Ever since author Cormac McCarthy (No Country for Old Men) sparked a bidding war with his screenplay about a corrupt lawyer on the wrong side of a drug trade, all eyes have been on director Ridley Scott to see if he can deliver a film that appeals to Oscar the way that No Country did.
But this is not the first time Ridley Scott has found himself in the running for awards season. To celebrate the Oct. 25 release of The Counselor, we run down Scott's best and worst films.
By Phil Pirrello
5. G.I. Jane (1997)
The late '90s found the director doing the filmmaking equivalent of treading water and spinning his wheels with films such as G.I. Jane, starring Demi Moore as a Navy analyst forced to test drive the military's new program to prove a woman's worth in combat. Technically impressive but dramatically flawed, it lacks any worthy emotional payload to warrant a top spot on the director's resume.
4. White Squall (1996)
Despite impressive production values, a thrilling storm-at-sea sequence and Jeff Bridges' performance, this 1996 drama is disposable filler. The type of movie you vaguely remember kinda wanting to see when it was theaters and, to this day, have still only seen bits and pieces of on TNT.
3. Prometheus (2012)
Ridley Scott's first sci-fi film since Blade Runner, Prometheus aggressively tries to be both its own movie and a prequel to Alien. As a result, it succeeds at neither, creating a few memorable thrills that are ultimately overshadowed by the story's many problems. Damon Lindelof and Jon Spaihts' script suffers from inconsistent characterizations and a slasher-y third act that sullies the good will of the first two.
2. Robin Hood (2010)
Remember when this was supposed to be a movie told from the Sheriff of Nottingham's point-of-view? Just knowing that little kernel of what could have been makes Scott's lifeless epic even more unbearable. One can practically hear the script furiously being rewritten to accommodate a needless "Robin Begins" origin tale just as the film slips through its director's fingers.
1. Hannibal (2001)
The sequel to the Oscar-winning Silence of the Lambs opened big at the box office but quickly fell into "what the hell did I just watch?!" territory, eschewing the former's slow-burn tension and grounded thrills for an aimless and excessively violent affair. Despite a script from David Mamet and Steven Zallian, Hannibal succeeds at leaving us wondering why anyone would risk tarnishing Silence's legacy with such a venture.
After suffering that '90s career slump, Scott rebounded with the Oscar-winning (and maybe overrated) Gladiator. Scott's first collaboration with Russell Crowe is arguably his best, casting Crowe as a Roman general turned gladiator in the type of epic they just weren't making enough of at the time. A first-rate supporting cast and Hans Zimmer's stirring score have earned the film its place on many a home-video shelf.
4. Thelma & Louise (1991)
Starring Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon in respective career-defining roles, the movie is much more than just "two girls on the run from the law." It's a movie about friendship and the messiness therein, about how far loyalty can go in a world increasingly becoming bankrupt of it. Throw in a then-unknown Brad Pitt (who re-teams with Scott for The Counselor) -- and you have one of the director's best acting showcases.
3. Black Hawk Down (2001)
In the same year that Scott made one of his worst films ever, he also crafted one of his best. Black Hawk Down is pure polish; a gritty, military procedural centered on the harrowing real-life events surrounding a group of soldiers who crash land in war-torn Mogadishu. Scott delivers a detailed account, underscored with white-knuckle tension and a welcome dose of emotional heft. One of the best war movies ever made.
2. Alien (1979)
The movie's only problem is that it ends. If only more genre fare could be as tense and restrained and exciting as this, Scott's most frightening film. When it comes to picking Scott's best film, it's a Sophie's Choice between Alien and this genre-defining classic…
1. Blade Runner (1982)
No matter how many times we watch Deckard (Harrison Ford) struggle to "retire" some more human than human androids, no two viewings are alike. Almost by design, Blade Runner yields a different viewing experience every time -- you catch a new detail here or thematic idea there. So many movies have tried to pay homage to the film's iconic aesthetic, but few (if any) have pulled it off.
Agree? Disagree? Sound off below and get tickets to The Counselor.