Ridley Scott Movies

Thursday, February 17, 2011 at 7:16 am

For over four decades, Ridley Scott movies have been entertaining audiences and racking up big numbers at the box office. From intimate, character-driven stories to legendary sci-fi movies and period pieces, this English director and producer has left an indelible stamp of the history of filmmaking. In this article, I’ll be taking a look at my ten favorite Ridley Scott films and explaining why they should be your favorites, too.

His background as a graphic artist has given his movies the feeling of a vast canvas, and other recurring elements include conflicts between fathers and sons, slow pacing leading up to action sequences, the frequent use of smoke and fog, and strong female protagonists. His younger brother, Tony Scott, is also a noted director, having helmed such projects as Man on Fire, Top Gun, Crimson Tide, and Unstoppable.

Almost all Ridley Scott movies are available from Netflix, the largest online rental service in the United States. Becoming a Netflix member is a snap, and you’ll be blown away by their vast selection (over 100,000 films and TV shows), fast delivery, and multiple subscription plans.

The Duellists (1977) – Focusing on themes of honor and obsession, this historical drama is notable for its attention to period detail, especially in the military uniforms and dueling techniques of the lead characters. Keith Carradine and Harvey Keitel star as French officers during the Napoleonic Wars, and a perceived insult sets off a 15-year period of duels that play out while the world burns in the background. This was Scott’s debut film as a director, and it offers an enticing preview of the works that would follow.

Alien (1979) – One of the most influential science fiction movies ever made, Alien spawned a long-running franchise and launched the career of Sigourney Weaver. She plays Ellen Ripley, an officer aboard a commercial towing spaceship whose crew picks up an alien lifeform and suffers the consequences. Once described as “Jaws in space,” the film boasts a stellar cast (including Ian Holm, John Hurt, Harry Dean Stanton, and Tom Skerritt), relentless suspense, and a bloodthirsty creature that’s still menacing over 30 years later.

Blade Runner (1982) – Another classic in the sci-fi genre, Blade Runner stars Harrison Ford as Rick Deckard, a former cop who once specialized in tracking down and destroying artificial humanoids known as replicants. When a group of dangerous replicants (including Rutger Hauer) slip onto Earth, Deckard is forced back onto active duty and sent out to do what he does best. Scott demonstrates his fondness for cityscapes, Hauer’s Roy Batty gave Anne Rice her inspiration for the vampiric Lestat, and multiple layers of symbolism still have fans debating over whether the film’s protagonist was man or machine.

Legend (1985) – Tim Curry sports a gargantuan pair of horns as the Lord of Darkness, a force of evil looking to bring about perpetual night by killing off a pair of unicorns. He’s opposed by Jack ‘o the Green, a woodland dweller played by none other than a young Tom Cruise. There’s also a beautiful princess (Mia Sara), fairies, elves, and dwarves, making Legend a fantastical motion picture guaranteed to entertain both children and adults. I was especially drawn to Curry’s performance, given his ability to imbue even the most sinister creature with sympathetic traits.

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Thelma & Louise (1991) – A great example of female empowerment, this Ridley Scott film stars Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis as a pair of suburbanite pals who set off on vacation only to wind up wanted for murder and pursued by the authorities. Brad Pitt puts in an early film appearance as a handsome drifter, and Harvey Keitel manages to redeem the male gender as a sympathetic cop. Bolstered by strong performances from both Davis and Sarandon, as well as an iconic final scene, Thelma & Louise is feminist entertainment that still manages to appeal to the masses.

Gladiator (2000) – Russell Crowe became a superstar by portraying Maximus Decimus Meridius, a loyal Roman general who is betrayed and nearly murdered by the latest ruler of the empire, the bloodthirsty and incestuous Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix). After winding up in slavery and becoming a celebrated gladiator, Maximus looks to avenge his family and restore peace to his beloved Rome. Crowe displays a grim intensity throughout, but the real star is the film’s numerous action sequences, especially those which take place in the Roman Colosseum. Co-starring Connie Nielsen, Oliver Reed, Derek Jacobi, Richard Harris, and Djimon Hounsou.

Black Hawk Down (2001) – Looking for non-stop action? Well, look no further than this 144-minute war movie based on the real-life Battle of Mogadishu, a running gunfight between U.S. Special Forces and an army of faceless locals. Originally meant as a covert operation to capture a warlord, the stakes are raised when two Black Hawk helicopters are downed by RPGs. It’s chaos from that point forward, with plenty of opportunities to tout American heroism in the face of withering enemy fire. The cast is jam-packed with stars, including Josh Hartnett, Eric Bana, Ewan McGregor, Tom Sizemore, William Fichtner, Orlando Bloom, Jeremy Piven, Jason Isaacs, and Sam Shepard.

Matchstick Men (2003) – As a performer, Nicolas Cage is all over the place. One minute he’s turning in a great performance, and the next he’s starring in something that’s downright awful. This one falls into the former category, as his portrayal of con artist Roy Waller is both amusing and heartbreaking. Suffering from a litany of quirks and tics, Roy attempts to shed his panic attacks with the help of a therapist, but the revelation that he has a daughter (Alison Lohman) threatens to throw his life into total disarray. Sam Rockwell co-stars as Roy’s partner in the con game.

American Gangster (2007) – Since his brother Tony Scott has directed Denzel Washington is about 100 movies, Ridley decided to get in on the action with this film about real-life heroin kingpin Frank Lucas (Denzel) and the police detective (Russell Crowe) looking to bring him down. It’s always fun to watch Denzel play a badass, and Ruby Dee received an Oscar nomination for her role as his unassuming mother. If you enjoy crime movies such as Goodfellas and Blow, be sure to add this to the top of your Netflix queue.

Body of Lies (2008) – Based on the novel by David Ignatius, Body of Lies examines tensions between the Western and Arab worlds, as well as the modern-day technological advances in the war against terrorism. Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Roger Ferris, a CIA operative in pursuit of a terrorist leader. While falling for a Jordanian nurse (Golshifteh Farahani) and constantly butting heads with his calculating superior (Russell Crowe), Ferris must also attempt to cultivate a friendship with Hani Salaam (Mark Strong), the urbane and no-nonsense head of Jordanian intelligence. While it sticks to familiar spy movie territory a little too often, Scott’s technical proficiency and the fine performances from DiCaprio, Crowe, and Strong make this a film worth recommending.

To enjoy all the Ridley Scott movies listed above, be sure to sign-up and become a member of Netflix. It’s the largest online rental service in North America, and it won’t be long before its dominance has spread across the globe. We do get a tiny commission when you join through our site, but it doesn’t cost you anything extra. Besides, it helps us keep bringing you quality articles like this one.

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