Ridley Scott has achieved a unique feat in his four-decade career as a director, creating films that have greatly impacted the science fiction genre, influencing numerous movies, TV shows, comics, video games, and anime. Known for his epic storytelling, Scott’s films delve into themes such as mortality, destiny, religion, AI, technology, and the dynamics of human relationships, as seen in films like Gladiator, Kingdom of Heaven, and Matchstick Men.
Where to Watch the Best Ridley Scott Films Online
Scott’s filmography is diverse and spans over four decades, showcasing his talents as a producer, director, and writer. He has been responsible for some of the most critically acclaimed films in recent history, and has also been recognized for his contributions to the film industry through various awards and nominations. While some of his films may have not been as well received, it cannot be denied that Scott has left an indelible mark on the film world and continues to be a prominent figure in the industry. As his new films, “The Last Duel” and “House Gucci,” are set to release in the coming months, it’s a great opportunity to take a look back at some of his most notable and outstanding films and where you can watch them today.
In 1977, the release of Star Wars revolutionized both science fiction and filmmaking as a whole. This led to a surge in the production of action-adventure sci-fi movies by studios looking to replicate the success of Star Wars. Even James Bond’s Moonraker, released in 1979, was heavily influenced by Star Wars. However, that same year, Ridley Scott’s Alien, a science fiction horror film, was released and quickly gained widespread recognition and acclaim.
The movie Alien, which Scott is perhaps best known for, is about a space crew that responds to a bizarre distress call and comes face to face with a hostile alien lifeform that soon escapes and starts hunting the crew down one by one.
Alien has been praised for its atmospheric tone and design, Ridley Scott’s direction, the convincing performances of the actors, and its slow-paced, methodical approach to horror with abrupt instances of shocking violence in addition to being one of the most recognisable science fiction movies ever made. One of the most adored sci-fi characters and a feminist icon, Ripley was portrayed by Sigourney Weaver.
Think about 1977 for a second. Star Wars, which was recently released, profoundly changed science fiction and film. Studios began to see the lucrative potential of action-adventure sci-fi movies, and the market quickly became overrun by imitations of Star Wars (heck, even James Bond went full-out Star Wars in that near-unwatchable mess, Moonraker). Then, in 1979, Ridley Scott’s science fiction horror movie Alien was produced, and it became immediately well-known.
Watching on Hulu (premium subscription required)
Ridley Scott is known for creating multiple versions of his films. One of his most well-known works, Blade Runner, has seen a plethora of cuts and edited versions, similar to many of his other films like Kingdom of Heaven, Legend, Black Hawk Down, Gladiator, and The Martian. The main plot of each version of the film remains the same, with the protagonist, Rick Deckard (played by Harrison Ford), tasked with hunting down and eliminating self-aware androids.
Deckard, the main character of the film, is tasked with hunting down a group of advanced, military-grade androids and must grapple with the moral implications of his job and his complex feelings towards an android named Rachael (played by Sean Young). While all versions of the film are generally well-regarded, the 2007 re-edited version, known as “The Final Cut,” is considered the definitive edition. In this version, Director Ridley Scott had complete creative control and was able to fully realize his initial vision for the film. The Final Cut features dense, smog-covered cityscapes, striking neon-lit structures, and delves deeper into themes of technology, death, artificial intelligence, and human emotion.
Blade Runner is widely recognized as one of the greatest science fiction films of all time, with outstanding performances by Harrison Ford and Rutger Hauer being a significant factor in its success. Ford, known for his roles in Star Wars and Indiana Jones, delivers one of his best performances in the film. Hauer’s final monologue is considered to be one of the greatest movie speeches of all time. The film also features an unforgettable soundtrack by Vangelis and stunning visuals and cinematography that pay homage to classic noir films, but with a science fiction twist.
Streaming on Netflix
“Gladiator” draws inspiration from historical epic films of the 1950s such as “Spartacus,” “Julius Caesar,” and “Ben-Hur,” but doesn’t bring much new to the genre. However, the film’s mature themes, such as realistic violence and more graphic sexual content, which were not depicted in the 1950s, along with the contemporary filmmaking techniques used by Director Ridley Scott, helped set the stage for a new wave of historical epics set in the Roman and Greek eras, including “300,” “Troy,” and “Alexander.”
Among the many historical epic films that followed, none received as much acclaim as Gladiator. The film stars Russell Crowe as the skilled Roman general Maximus, and Richard Harris as Emperor Marcus Aurelius, who sees Maximus as a potential successor. However, in order to secure his own inheritance, the unstable Emperor’s son, Commodus (played by Joaquin Phoenix), kills his father and orders the murder of Maximus and his family. Maximus, who manages to escape, is sold into slavery and made a gladiator in the Colosseum as he plots his revenge.
What makes this film stand out is Scott’s contemporary aesthetic approach to it, with excellent framing and close-up shots that contrast the intense action with the grandeur of the Colosseum. This classic story of vengeance also features thrilling sword battles and combat sequences. Gladiator won several awards including Best Picture, Best Actor for Crowe, Best Costume Design, Best Sound, and Best Visual Effects. Even today, it is still considered a highlight in Ridley Scott’s filmography.
Streaming on Netflix
Scott’s most underrated and comical film is undoubtedly “Matchstick Men.” Adapted from Eric Garcia’s novel, this dark comedy follows the story of two con artists, Roy (played by Nicholas Cage) and Frank (played by Sam Rockwell). Roy is a seasoned con man while Frank, who is still learning the ropes, is his protégé.
This story tells the story of Roy, a con artist who, though initially successful, suffers from severe OCD and agoraphobia, which makes him and his protégé Frank extremely difficult to deal with. Roy visits a psychiatrist in an attempt to improve his mental health, who suggests he reaches out to his 14-year-old daughter. With their superb performances, the three lead actors elevate this film that is similar in many ways to “Paper Moon,” another movie about a con artist father and his young daughter, and leave viewers wondering who is pulling the strings.
Many people hope that Ridley Scott will create more comedic movies as “Matchstick Men” showcases his comedic talents at their best. It is a shame that the film did not receive more recognition and did not rank higher on other reviewers’ “best of Ridley Scott” lists, possibly due to the fact that it is more grounded and realistic than his typical grand historical epics.
Streaming on HBO Max
Thelma & Louise
Ridley Scott is typically immediately linked to bigger, more ambitious movies with either historical or science fiction themes. Scott’s other works, especially those that depart from his usual epic themes and follow shorter, more personal narratives, are occasionally overlooked or do not receive as much attention as his more intricate works, though.
“Thelma & Louise” is a powerful and thought-provoking film that explores themes of female empowerment and the consequences of taking a stand against injustice. The film’s portrayal of the characters Thelma and Louise, two women who take control of their own lives and break free from societal constraints, has made it a cult classic and a feminist classic. The film features strong performances by both Davis and Sarandon, and is considered one of Scott’s most significant works. It has received widespread critical acclaim and is considered a landmark film in the history of cinema.
“Thelma & Louise” was praised for its unique perspective on a female-centered story and went on to receive numerous accolades, including an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay and nominations for Best Director and Best Actress at the Academy Awards. The film, which has been described as a modern-day “Bonnie and Clyde” style road movie, focuses on the bond of female companionship and feminist ideals, as portrayed by lead actresses Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis.
Streaming on YouTube (free with ads)
Black Hawk Down
In the early 2000s, Ridley Scott enjoyed a prosperous period. In between his critically acclaimed films Gladiator and Hannibal, which was largely disappointing, he had another widely acclaimed picture.
Despite having a largely disappointing sequel to “The Silence of the Lambs,” “Hannibal,” Ridley Scott was a highly successful filmmaker in the early 2000s. He began the new millennium with the critically acclaimed film “Gladiator” and followed it up with a second acclaimed film. “Black Hawk Down” is a war film that tells the true story of the 1993 US Army invasion of Mogadishu. The film depicts the mission of a joint force of Army Rangers and special operations forces to establish a stable government in Somalia and provide food aid to the local population. The film features a talented ensemble cast including Josh Hartnett, Ewan McGregor, Eric Bana, Tom Sizemore, William Fichtner, Sam Shepard, and Jason Isaacs in notable roles. All the actors deliver strong performances, which is typical of their work in general.
Streaming on HBO Max
Scott’s 2015 hard science fiction endeavour, The Martian, marked his comeback to his best form after a stretch of movies that underwhelmed critically for almost 10 years. The movie, which is based on Andy Weir’s best-selling book, centres on a single astronaut (Matt Damon), who is unintentionally abandoned by his team on Mars and must now fend for himself while trying to reach Earth in order to request rescue.
Watching Ridley Scott return to the genre that began his career was fascinating since he is well renowned for his work in science fiction owing to films like Blade Runner and Alien. Scott manages to juggle three fascinating plotlines (Damon’s survivor story, his team coming to terms with accidentally abandoning him and then resolving to save him, and NA) even though audiences might have dozed off at the scientifically accurate discussions of space travel or heard Damon’s astronaut discuss the botanical logistics of growing potatoes on Mars.
While it might not be as thrilling or captivating as Alien or Blade Runner, it’s a nice addition to Scott’s science fiction works and still makes for a highly fascinating movie.
Streaming on Hulu (premium subscription required)
Kingdom of Heaven
Additionally, the director’s cut also includes more of the historical context and background of the story, which adds depth and complexity to the overall narrative. The expanded version of the film provides a more immersive and satisfying viewing experience, giving audiences a better understanding of the characters and their motivations. Furthermore, it also allows for more exploration of the themes and ideas that the film addresses. Overall, the director’s cut of Kingdom of Heaven offers a more comprehensive and satisfying interpretation of the story than the theatrical release.
Both the theatrical version and the director’s cut of Kingdom of Heaven feature Orlando Bloom as a 12th-century blacksmith who travels to Jerusalem to defend the city from Muslim ruler Saladin during the Crusades. The director’s cut, which is over three hours long, is similar in style to other historical epics by director Ridley Scott. The expanded version delves deeper into the main character’s personal journey to understand his beliefs and the potential conflicts and unity between different religious groups. This added depth elevates the film to a work of art.
While Liam Nesson, Edward Norton, Eva Green, Jeremy Irons, Ghassan Massoud, and David Thewlis all give strong supporting performances, Orlando Bloom isn’t the ideal actor to play the protagonist in a movie of this scope and subject matter. Bloom comes out as relatively flat and has a limited emotional range. Don’t settle for anything less than the director’s cut of this one; see it only as intended.
Not currently streaming, but can be rented on Prime Video
The Last Duel and Scott’s debut film as a director, The Duellists, seem to share a lot of similarities. In the movie The Duellists, which is inspired on a short story by Joseph Conrad, two French officers from the Napoleonic era (Harvey Keitel and Keith Carradine) engage in ongoing conflicts.
“The Duellists,” directed by Ridley Scott, is a noteworthy debut film that stands out on its own merit, despite its similarities to Stanley Kubrick’s “Barry Lyndon.” Despite its shorter length, it features engaging themes and scenes, such as exploring the meaning of life and death. Scott’s interest in historical films is also evident in this historical drama. The film was released when Scott was 40 years old and it also includes a powerful scene where Keitel’s character’s life flashes before his eyes as he nearly loses a fight.
Although it could take some time to recognise Scott’s style in this movie, his influence is clear in its themes, plot, Kubrick homages, and some risky aesthetic decisions (such as the unique camera choices used during the actual duelling portions).
Not currently streaming, but can be rented on Prime Video
This choice for a list of “Ridley Scott’s top movies” will undoubtedly spark debate. Scott’s attempts to make an origin story for his most well-known movie, Alien, that takes place before the events of his 1979 masterpiece have been met with a relatively muted reception. His new trilogy’s opening film, Prometheus, received criticism for having an absurd plot and equally absurd, dumb characters.
some others think it to be a little pompous. The origins of mankind, its future interplanetary destinations, and its ability to cohabit with other life forms were some of the topics covered in these debates. The main character of Alien: Covenant is a group of alien colonists who leave Earth and find a far-off planet that they believe could be habitable. But as they continue to explore what may be their future home, they suddenly encounter a horrifying threat that puts the whole gang in danger.
Streaming on Hulu (premium subscription required)
Ridley Scott is a highly influential figure in the world of science fiction film making. His movies such as Alien and Blade Runner have had a significant impact on the genre, and are considered cult classics. He is often compared to fellow filmmakers George Lucas and James Cameron, who have also made notable contributions to the genre. Scott’s large-scale historical productions like Gladiator, Black Hawk Down, and Kingdom of Heaven have received critical acclaim and have won many awards.
Scott’s films like Thelma & Louise have also received recognition for their strong performances and thought-provoking themes. As he continues to direct films, fans are eagerly looking forward to his upcoming releases The Last Duel and House of Gucci, which are set to release in October and November of this year respectively. With a career that has spanned many years, it will be interesting to see how these new films fit into the director’s already impressive filmography.