Mid-Week Poll: Better Scott – Ridley or Tony?

I think we’ve probably dwelled on the negative and cynical enough in recent polls about worst movie, worst director, etc. Let’s spin things around this week and start looking for the best in our cinematic entertainment. To that end, this week’s poll was originally suggested by Dick a while back: As filmmakers, which is the better Scott brother – Ridley or Tony? Vote after the break.

I expect that Ridley Scott will probably walk away with this one. After all, he’s the guy who made ‘Alien‘ and ‘Blade Runner‘. These are genuine masterpieces. Brother Tony has nothing that approaches those. Even some of Ridley’s failures like ‘Legend‘ or ‘1492: Conquest of Paradise’ are at least fascinating failures. And as much as I may hate it, I must recognize that people seem to think that ‘Gladiator‘ is a good movie too, for some reason I’ll never comprehend.

However, before we rush to judgment, I suggest that we should look over the totality of Ridley Scott’s career. After ‘Blade Runner’, the man hasn’t made anything on that same level since. Honestly, I think that the production problems on ‘Legend’ broke something inside him. In interviews these days, he brags about liking to work quickly and not waste too much of the actors’ time. Is this the same man who agonized over every centimeter of every frame in ‘Blade Runner’?

In recent years, Ridley Scott has mostly churned out glossy but forgettable movies like ‘American Gangster‘ or ‘Body of Lies‘, and several truly dreadful ones like ‘Hannibal’ and ‘Robin Hood‘.

Meanwhile, Tony Scott has never had anywhere near the pretension of his brother. Tony seems content to focus his efforts on populist action movie fare like ‘Top Gun‘ and ‘Crimson Tide‘. He’s never pretended to be an auteur or lobbied for an Oscar. While he may not have a masterpiece of ‘Blade Runner’ caliber in him, ‘True Romance‘ is a really terrific movie. Although he may have never strived for greatness, I might also argue that his failures aren’t quite as bad as some of Ridley’s either.

Even so, I’ll probably vote for Ridley. I mean, really, the guy made ‘Alien’ and ‘Blade Runner’. Those two movies alone secure him a place in cinematic history.

If it helps, here is the list of movies that each has directed:

Ridley Scott
  1. ‘The Duelists’
  2. ‘Alien’
  3. ‘Blade Runner’
  4. ‘Legend’
  5. ‘Someone to Watch Over Me’
  6. ‘Black Rain’
  7. ‘Thelma & Louise’
  8. ‘1492: Conquest of Paradise’
  9. ‘G.I. Jane’
  10. ‘Gladiator’
  11. ‘Hannibal’
  12. ‘Black Hawk Down’
  13. ‘Matchstick Men’
  14. ‘Kingdom of Heaven’
  15. ‘A Good Year’
  16. ‘American Gangster’
  17. ‘Body of Lies’
  18. ‘Robin Hood’
Tony Scott
  1. ‘The Hunger’
  2. ‘Top Gun’
  3. ‘Beverly Hills Cop II’
  4. ‘Revenge’
  5. ‘Days of Thunder’
  6. ‘The Last Boy Scout’
  7. ‘True Romance’
  8. ‘Crimson Tide’
  9. ‘The Fan’
  10. ‘Enemy of the State’
  11. ‘Spy Game’
  12. ‘Man on Fire’
  13. ‘Domino’
  14. ‘Déjà Vu’
  15. ‘The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3’
  16. ‘Unstoppable’

Now it’s your turn to vote.

Who Is the Better Director: Ridley Scott or Tony Scott?

View Results

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  1. I agree, I think Ridley will walk away with this one, if simply for the fact that I would think more people are familer with his work. I had never heard of Tony Scott, although I am familer with the titles you mentioned. Top Gun was the only one I had seen, and as great as it is, it just doesn’t come close to Alien and Blade Runner.

    However, I will admit I am a bit biased – I’m a sci-fi junkie.

    • vihdeeohfieuhl


      Really? You weren’t familiar with Tony Scott at all? It seems like his name has been thrown around so much over the years. Every time a new director makes a quick cut, frantically paced, multiple angles at once action film, the obligatory Tony Scott comparisons come flying out.

      His last four films have been so “Helter-Skelter” it seems like no director can do anything that includes quick cuts and feverish pacing without being called a Tony Scott ripoff.

      • Josh posted a full list after I posted my comment. I own Man on Fire too, which is a great movie. That and Top Gun are the only ones of his that I have seen. Both were great movies, but they just do not compare with Ridley Scott.

  2. Alex

    I’m going to give this one to Ridley for the truly masterful work he’s done in his career, but I have to admit that Tony is a good, solid director, who puts out stuff that is always, if nothing else, watchable. Plus, I really, genuinely enjoyed “Unstoppable.”

  3. EM

    Yeah, my initial reaction to the poll question was, “Who the hell is Tony Scott?” Having looked over his filmography, I recognize one movie I’ve seen—and would have been happy not to see. I actually haven’t seen much of Ridley’s either, but I must hand him this particular trophy on the basis of Alien, if nothing else.

    • vihdeeohfieuhl

      You frequent HDD and the Bonus View blog, and you had no idea who Tony Scott was? That is absolutely mind boggling! You must be either a film enthusiast, or a high-def enthusiast, and yet you were not familiar with Tony Scott at all? Have you been living under a rock? Or in a coma?

        • vihdeeohfieuhl

          Only when it comes to the truly mannerless such as yourself, my tactless fellow HDD frequenter. 😉

          Haha! Your pardons please. I think you took me the wrong way.

          I’m simply shocked that a film/high-def enthusiast such as yourself has no familiarity whatsoever with Tony Scott. He’s one of the most famous directors of the last few generations.

          • I can sing along with songs on the radio all day, doesn’t mean I know who sings them or what album they are on. Half the time I will watch movies or TV shows and not know who people are. Shoot, it was just about a month ago I found out that the lady who played the first lady in Independance Day also played the President in Battlestar Galactica. How the heck did I miss that? And that the little girl is Mae West, who does TONS of voice acting work. Of course, I knew who Jeff Goldblum, Will Smith and Brett Spinner were.

            Point is, it is perfectly okay to watch a movie – and even be a movie enthusiast, and not know, or care, about who directed it or who is in it. I tried for a while to search out movies based on actors / actresses and even directors, and found a TON of crap movies (ever seen Hansel and Grettel? Despite its all star cast, DON’T WATCH IT!!!!!)

          • vihdeeohfieuhl

            You’re absolutely right William. My apologies again. I never intended to make either of you feel like it wasn’t okay. Just highly surprised that there was such a lack of familiarity with one of the most famous directors of the last 25-30 years. I don’t think I could name more than maybe 5-7 directors that debuted in the last 25-30 years that are more famous than Tony Scott.

            Still… please pardon my tone/poor explanation.

  4. Barsoom Bob

    Don’t leave out Kingdom of Heaven – Director’s Cut. Inspite of Orlando Bloom, actually he’s not that bad, this was a beautifully shot, sweeping spectacle that had heart and something to say about the contempory situation in the middle east. The additions in the D.C. improved this story dramaticaly. Go Team Ridley.

  5. Alien AND Blade Runner? Nothing his brother has done can even come close to those. He’s a great action film maker but Ridley makes you think and I prefer that to blatant violence and action. Don’t get me wrong I love alot of Tony Scott’s movies, True Romance is pure genius and unstoppable was pretty fun. They are both great film makers they are just too different and I prefer Ridley’s work.

  6. I do have to make a special point about Man on Fire. That movie is Tony Scott’s best and anyone who has not seen it really owes it to himself to. Dakota fanning is amazingly directed in that film and Denzel is, well, better than he has ever been before. Great film and one that really shows how close these two brothers could be in their directing style at times.

  7. vihdeeohfieuhl

    I ultimately went with Ridley, but from I feel like this question comes down to whether you like Russell Crowe or Denzel Washington more. 😉

    In a nut shell, I agree with everything that Josh states above. I feel like Ridley has enough genuinely brilliant films to put him just a hair above his brother. However, if you scored each film, and came up with a median number, I feel like Tony might come out on top.

    If we decided to go with a scare of 1 to 10, Tony probably doesn’t have any 10’s, but he also might not have any 1’s. Ridley would definitely have some 10’s, but he might have enough 1’s to fall below his brother.

    It’s interesting, if you asked this question even 10 years ago, Ridley runs away with it. If you ask this question 20 years ago, Ridley wins in a landslide, and wipes his brother’s carcass off the muddy hillside. But as time has passed, Ridley continues to make more stinkers — is anybody even genuinely excited for the Alien prequel? Or pretty much having to talk themselves into it? — while Tony keeps on making films that are of the same quality all of his films have been.

    It reminds me of a debate that I recently thought of while watching the NBA finals. Dirk Nowitzki vs. Larry Bird. Would you rather have 8-9 transcendent years followed by 2-3 mediocre years (Bird), Or 13+ — probably at least 15 if not more — really solid, possibly even great years (Nowitzki). Obviously this argument isn’t really parallel to Scott vs. Scott. Bird’s first 8-9 years would have been like Ridley putting out an Alien or Blade Runner for 9 straight years. But the comparison is still entertaining.

    • I totally follow you! I don’t dislike Tony at all, in fact, the movies of his I have seen I love. Its just that, in my book, Alien and Blade Runner just slightly outshine Man on Fire and Top Gun. But I cannot admit to watching the complete works of either director – if I did, my opinion could be swayed to go Tony. They are both wonderful directors!

  8. ridley. although its a 51/49 with alien being the classic that it is. i like both i. do think ridley gets to much credit and tony not enough when they even each other out. i give the edge to ridley for not really tight close ups and the batman angle shots.

  9. motorheadache

    Definitely Ridley for me. In addition to Alien and Blade Runner, I’m also quite a big fan of Black Hawk Down, Gladiator (sorry Josh), and Kingdom of Heaven (Director’s Cut, of course).

    I also give him major props for the way he handled the DVD/Blu-Ray release of Blade Runner, and doing everything right in that situation that George Lucas did wrong. Not only was his “enhanced” version actually good, he seems happy to offer his non-preferred cuts of the film to those who like them. Well done, sir.

  10. Jane Morgan

    Ridley has made more iconic movies than Tony, and yet, by my count, I’ve watched more of Tony’s movies than Ridley’s, 11 to 9.

    Filmography aside, I vote for Sir Ridley, based on future anticipation.

    I’m looking forward to ‘Prometheus’ a lot more than ‘Top Gun 2.’

  11. TagCloud

    My vote goes to Tony. I think as highly of Blade Runner and Alien as the next chap, but personally I’d put Man on Fire at the same level – all are total masterpieces in my eyes. However, I am in total agreement with Josh as for Ridley’s later films, none of which even come close to Alien/Blade Runner level. A couple of good titles, but mostly forgettable ones.

    As for Tony Scott, I just completely love the guy’s directorial style. Even when the story has problems, as with Top Gun or Pelham 1-2-3 (where John Travolta is another problem), I find his movies so incredibly watchable and entertaining. Ridley’s stuff post Blade Runner is rarely up to that level, and judging by their entire body of work, for me it’s a pretty easy win for Tony.

  12. Eric

    I think you can make an argument that Ridley Scott has produced the best movie of all time in two different categories. Alien is without question a classic, that has never left my top five favorite films, and it never will. I consider it the greatest sci-fi/horror film of all time. I also believe Black Hawk Down is tremendously underrated as a war film. Next to the storming of Normandy beach scene in Saving Private Ryan, I have never been so immersed in a war film as I was in Black Hawk Down. The difference being that Black Hawk Down throws you into the war for almost the entirety of the film. I know a lot of film fans like to credit older films as great war movies, but for me BHD is the best. I like Tony Scott, but the diversity Ridley has shown to me makes him one of the greatest of all time and superior to his very talented brother.

  13. CK

    I went with Ridley, as well. Tony has several good movies, and a few that I watch often (True Romance, Spy Game, Man on Fire and Enemy of the State), but he also has The Last Boyscout, which takes off several points for me; I know a lot of people like that movie, but I’ve never been able to get through it. I like both, but Ridley has the classier movies and when he’s good he’s really good, while Tony seems to top out at highly entertaining; which isn’t bad.