Congratulations to Ridley Scott who turns 75 today! The director, who’s had a rough year with the suicide of his brother Tony, still looks set to follow the example of Robert Altman who kept on making good movies right up until the very end. This year, Scott delivered Prometheus and he recently wrapped The Counselor with Javier Bardem, Brad Pitt and Michael Fassbender, working out of a Cormac McCarthy script. His five best movies:
Alien – It’s impossible to present a list like this and not put his second feature film on top of it. It’s what comes after this film that makes a Ridley Scott list interesting.
Gladiator – The movie that almost won Scott a directing Oscar made a star out of Russell Crowe and renewed interest in the Roman empire, leading to the TV series Rome, among other things. An unusual example of a film premiering early in the year and then building to an eventual Best Picture Oscar win almost a year later.
Thelma & Louise – This 1991 road movie turned Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis into stars and garnered several Oscar nominations. Scott championed feminist strength already in Alien and returned to the issue in the far less successful G.I. Jane (1997).
The Duellists – Scott’s 1977 debut feature is a gorgeously photographed film depicting two Napoleon-era soldiers who keep dueling each other over several decades. Weird, and utterly engaging.
American Gangster – Yes, Ridley Scott knows how to make gangster movies as well. Scripted by Steven Zaillian, this depiction of the New York City gangster Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington) benefits from a strong star performance, a compelling story and dynamic direction.