Director’s Spotlight: Ridley Scott
If you compile a list of the best working directors, Ridley Scott’s name would undoubtedly be in the mix. He’s had a string of successes since the late 1970’s with a strong emphasis on creating a unique visual style. It started way back with Alien and continued through last year’s sort-of-sequel Prometheus.
Starting this weekend, The Counselor, his next feature film (number 21 overall), finally releases. It stars Michael Fassbender, Javier Bardem, Brad Pitt, Cameron Diaz, and Penelope Cruz and is written by “No Country For Old Men’s” (the novel) Cormac McCarthy.
Before the release, I thought I’d spotlight director Ridley Scott in the inaugural “Director Spotlight” Movie Chat. Below you’ll find a quick biography, ranging from his directing roots to present day. I’ll also go through some of the numbers and I’ll finish with a comment on his movie legacy.
Ridley Scott was born in England on November 30, 1937 (yes, making him 75 years old). His family moved around a bit during World War II but settled back down in England soon after the war ended. Scott went on to study at the Royal College of Art in London where he helped establish the film department.
After graduating, Scott went on to direct TV episodes in series like Z Cars, Thirty-Minute Theatre, Adam Adamant Lives, Half Hour Story, The Informer, and Mogul between 1965 and 1969. This led to his feature film directorial debut The Duellists in 1977. It was an action drama starring Keith Carradine (Nashville).
Scott’s big break came in 1979 with Alien. Not only was it well received, but it set a precedent for sci-fi alien movies that still exists today. It also marked Scott’s first film with an Academy Award nomination and win (Best Visual Effects). James Cameron came back with Aliens – an equally as successful movie – that helped it become one of the best sci-fi franchises to date.
From then on, Scott has created an array of films with varied success. His most notable work was probably Blade Runner in 1982, which has been a bit polarizing, but ultimately well-received. In fact, the movie has been such a hit, it’s usually in the conversation when people start debating best movie of all-time (more on this later). A Blade Runner is even in the works and Scott is attached.
Blade Runner marked Scott’s critical high point, though, because since 1982 he has yet to make a movie that has matched up with reviewers. However, movies like Thelma & Louise, Gladiator, Black Hawk Down, Matchstick Men, and American Gangster have been generally well-received. Academy Awards-wise, Gladiator killed the rest of his movies when it received 12 nominations and 5 wins (for Best Sound, Best Costume Design, Best Visual Effects, Best Actor, and Best Picture). Unfortunately for Scott, it was one of the rare instances where the Best Director (Steven Soderbergh) didn’t line up with the Best Picture winner.
Like I previously mentioned, Scott returned to the Alien franchise last year with Prometheus. While I certainly liked the film, there was a fair amount of dissent due to the pacing and overall storyline. This year, he’s come back with a more traditional movie in The Counselor, which is a crime thriller more than anything else.
As for the future, Exodus is his next scheduled release (December 12, 2014). It’ll star Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton, Aaron Paul, Ben Kingsley, and Sigourney Weaver. However, as you can tell, he’s continually lining up project after project, on top of his duties as a Producer (for films like Stoker, The East, The Grey, and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford)
Here are some numbers to put his career in perspective:
21: Films made by Ridley Scott (if you include The Counselor)
12: Oscar nominations for 2000’s Gladiator
4: Oscar-nominated films (Alien, Thelma & Louise, Gladiator, and Black Hawk Down)
3: Best Director nominations (Thelma & Louis, Gladiator, Black Hawk Down)
97%: Highest Rotten Tomatoes Percentage (Alien)
25%: Lowest Rotten Tomatoes Percentage (A Good Year)
$187,705,427: Highest domestic total (Gladiator)
$155,000,000: Largest budget (Robin Hood)
757: Lowest amount of opening theaters for any movie recorded (Alien)
20: Blade Runner’s ranking in Empire Online’s Top 500 Movies of All Time
9: Different studios that have financed his films
7: Commercials he’s directed, including an Apple commercial in 1984.
1: Times Scott was knighted (2003).
When we look back on Ridley Scott, it’ll be his early career that spawns the most conversation. Like I mentioned, he had a knack for creating sci-fi landscapes that predated some of today’s bests. He’s listed as an influence for many directors now and in the future. Alien is probably the best example if you had to pick just one film.
As for individual movies, Blade Runner will probably go down as his most notable. It still holds up more than 30 years later, and I honestly don’t see that changing.
It’ll be interesting to see how his future movies fare. At 75 years old, the bulk of his filmmaking is obviously behind him, but that doesn’t mean he has to stop soon. I’m excited to see his future projects, including the aforementioned Blade Runner sequel. Having frequently worked with great actors like (but not limited to) Russell Crowe, Brad Pitt, Sigourney Weaver, Idris Elba, and Michael Fassbender, he’ll always have the starpower to along with his name.
And for a guy like him, his name goes a long way.
What are your thoughts on Ridley Scott? I’ve admittedly painted a positive picture of the director with some deeming him “overrated.” Let us know below!
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