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Jason Guerrasio

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I write about movies for numerous sites/publications including NextMovie, The A.V. Club, Village Voice, L.A. Weekly and Celebs.com.

Ridley Scott Vs. Tony Scott

With 35 years of directing between them, brothers Ridley and Tony Scott are masters at their craft. Both have left an indelible mark on Hollywood and pop culture alike, with individual styles that are instantly recognizable.

The brothers Scott (born seven years apart, with Ridley being the older) came onto the scene in the ’70s in the UK and were known for their visionary commercials. They were quickly pulled in by Hollywood: first Ridley with “Alien,” then Tony with “Top Gun” (more on these later). In 1995 they started the production company Scott Free, teaming to produce each other’s film projects like Ridley’s “Prometheus,” which opens Friday, and TV shows like “The Good Wife” and “Numb3rs.”

But enough of this brotherly love. Here we break down their directing work to find out, once and for all, who’s the great Scott.

FIRST FILM

Ridley Scott: The 19th-century drama “The Duellists” was praised by critics and won the Best Debut Film prize at the 1977 Cannes Film Festival.
Tony Scott: The vampire gothic tale “The Hunger” (1983) starred David Bowie, Catherine Deneuve and Susan Sarandon. A box office bust, the film is best known for its steamy lesbian scene between Deneuve and Sarandon.
Advantage: Tony. Damn the critics! If you land Bowie and get two icons to make out in your first film, you’re doing something right.

BREAKOUT FILM

Ridley Scott: Following “The Duellists,” Ridley made “Alien” in 1979 and it instantly became a landmark sci-fi film for its scares, amazing production value and the memorable tagline, “In space no one can hear you scream.”
Tony Scott: The 1980s super-producing tag team of Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer signed Tony three years after “The Hunger” to make “Top Gun.” Tony’s never-before-seen dogfights in the sky, mixed with Tom Cruise and the Kenny Loggins hit song “Danger Zone,” epitomized the summer blockbuster.
Advantage: This is a tough one. Though both are iconic films, we have to give the edge to Ridley, as “Alien” completely transcended genre filmmaking.

FEMALE CHARACTERS

Ridley Scott: Ridley has a long list of powerful, headstrong female characters through the years: Ripley (“Aliens”), Thelma and Louise (“Thelma & Louise”), Jordan O’Neill (“G.I. Jane”), Elizabeth Shaw (“Prometheus”).
Tony Scott: Tony has had his fair share as well: Karla Fry (“Beverly Hills Cop II”), Alabama Whitman (“True Romance”), Domino Harvey (“Domino”).
Advantage: Though we grant props to both Scott bros for giving meaty roles to women, we have to give Ridley the nod on this one. The women in his films never seem to need a man to get the job done.

VISUAL STYLE

Ridley Scott: Whether he’s visiting a futuristic city or roaming through medieval times, Ridley loves smoky atmospheric lighting. He focuses heavily on his set and costume designs, sometimes more so than on the stories he’s telling.
Tony Scott: No slouch when it comes to the fog machine as well, Tony’s style is a bit more action-focused. He tends to choose projects that are popcorn-fun and is a fan of jumpcuts, lens filters and different film speeds.
Advantage: This one’s a tie. Like it or not, each of their visionary styles has influenced a generation.

COMMERCIAL WORK

Ridley Scott: Having cut his teeth directing commercials in the ’70s, Ridley’s been known to go back to adverts to pay the bills since becoming an established filmmaker. His seminal campaign was the unveiling of the Apple Macintosh in an ad that aired during Super Bowl XVIII in 1984.
Tony Scott: One of Tony’s more eye-popping commercials never aired in the States. This stylish ad for Italy’s largest telecommunications company Telecom Italia features Marlon Brando. Yes, you read that correctly.
Advantage: Ridley. Brando was a major get for any advertiser, but we’re putting that up against the birth of the Macintosh computer, people!

FREQUENT COLLABORATORS

Ridley Scott: Russell Crowe (“Gladiator,” “A Good Year,” “American Gangster,” “Body of Lies,” “Robin Hood”)
Tony Scott: Denzel Washington (“Crimson Tide,” “Man on Fire,” “Déjà Vu,” “The Taking of Pelham 123,” “Unstoppable”)
Advantage: Ridley. Tony may have put Denzel in some entertaining roles, but the team of Ridley and Russell led to an Oscar win and some of Russell’s best work.

CULT CLASSIC
Ridley Scott: “Blade Runner”
Tony Scott: “True Romance”
Advantage: Both films have their staunch supporters, but there are few films so forward-thinking (and whose style has been so heavily imitated) as “Blade Runner.” Ridley takes this one.

CAREER BOX OFFICE
Ridley Scott: $1.1 billion
Tony Scott: 1.08 billion
Advantage: Um, they’ve both made quite a bit of money. Tie.

And the Winner Is …

After careful deliberation it goes to Ridley. Looking at his filmography is like looking at a “best of” list. And if “Prometheus” delivers the way we hope it will, it will only solidify his greatness.


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Tags: A good year, Alien, American Gangster, Blade runner, Body of lies, Crimson tide, Deja vu, Denzel washington, Gladiator, Man on fire, Prometheus, Ridley scott, Robin hood, Russell crowe, Sigourney Weaver, Susan Sarandon, The taking of pelham 123, Tom cruise, Tony Scott, Top gun, True Romance, Unstoppable, Vs.

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