Ridley Scott, whose new film, “The Counselor,” opened on Friday, has yet to come up with a musical or a western or a rom-com, but otherwise he’s done just about every genre Hollywood has to offer and turned out a winner in each. Here are five of the best.
The Duellists (1977)
For his feature debut Scott adapted a Joseph Conrad story about two officers in Napoleon’s army who just can’t get along. Their unending conflict serves as a microcosm of the wars around them, and a scene in which they feebly fight it out amidst the retreat from Moscow epitomizes macho absurdity.
Thelma & Louise (1991)
Is it a buddy movie or the ultimate chick flick? Scott, who made the case for tough heroines with Ripley in “Alien” (1979), here sends two damaged women off on an empowering crime spree which includes blowing up a phallic tanker truck and turning Brad Pitt into a boy toy.
“Unleash hell!” And while you’re at it, unleash $187 million at the box office and a best picture Oscar. Russell Crowe also scored a trophy for best actor as the general who becomes the would-be Spartacus of the title. And by the way, was it all a near-death experience, à la “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”?
Black Hawk Down (2001)
Scott unleashes hell once again in this excruciatingly realistic account of the botched mission in Mogadishu that cost the lives of 19 US soldiers and 1,000 Somalis. Some of the most harrowing combat scenes ever, with an especially grueling moment in which a medic tries to clamp a wounded soldier’s severed artery.
Matchstick Men (2003)
I’ll trust reader Don Caplin on this one, which is Scott’s only comedy. “Its con outdid David Mamet’s tricks,” he writes, “and was Nick Cage’s best since ‘Raising Arizona.’ ” Cage plays a lovable lowlife with lots of problems, and his best line, in my opinion, is “For some people money is a foreign film without subtitles.” How true.
Getting old is hard in real life, but fun on the screen, as can be seen in the antics of the geriatric stars of “Last Vegas” (opens Friday). Which cinema codgers hold up the best? And for Nov. 10, as “Thor: the Dark World” (opens Nov. 8) reminds us, superheroes have taken over Hollywood. Which comic book movie is your favorite? Send your choices to firstname.lastname@example.org or cast your votes at www.boston.com/cinemania.