FilmExodus Battle Royale: The Final Three Directors

First Rounds are over. Redemption has taken place. Now, the only thing left is the final Battle. “Let Them Fight!”, the series where we pit two directors with similar backgrounds against one another, has transitioned into the moment you’ve all been waiting for. Where all the previous winners duke it out, and only one director can be left standing when the dust settles. This is FilmExodus Battle Royale.

For an overview of past fights and what’s coming up, click here .

What to Consider

Obviously, which director do you think is better than the other? But what film of theirs proves your point. Remember, it isn’t so much about which film made the most money or was a critical darling, but in your mind which Director is better than the other in terms of style, risk, scope, etc.

How I Tally the Votes

I look at the comments posted (only first comments, no replies) to see who they picked. I don’t count comments that don’t give a clear answer on who they chose. If you want your comment to count make sure it is not a reply to someone else’s comment and has a clear definite winner.

Here we are Exiles, the last fight. When I started this series, it was back in April on the Disqus channel, and it pitted James Cameron against Ridley Scott. This is what it looked like:

Welcome to “Let Them Fight!”, the basic premise of shoving two people with similar movie backgrounds, and letting you, the commenters, fight on which one is better.

Today’s fight pits two legendary directors, who have made hugely iconic sci-fi films: James Cameron and Ridley Scott.

So, which director do you think is better than the other? What film of theirs proves your point. Who has the better style? Remember, it isn’t so much about which film made the most money or was a critical darling, but in your mind which Director is better than the other in terms of style, risk, scope, etc.

As well, this series started off without the badass Rocky logos DBMI later on. Instead, we had Ken Watanabe saying his now iconic line from Godzilla.

I’ve watched this series grow, and I never thought that I would have ended it with a massive tournament pitting the winners against each other. Yet, here we are, and there’s only 3 directors left. Only one can emerge victorious. Let’s see who made it to the end.

Steven Spielberg

Date of Birth: December 18, 1946 (age 70)

Highest Rated Film: E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) – 98% RT

Latest Directorial Feature: The BFG (2016)

John Carpenter

Date of Birth: January 16, 1948 (age 69)

Highest Rated Film: Assault on Precinct 13 (1976) – 97% RT

Latest Directorial Feature: The Ward (2010)

Ridley Scott

Date of Birth: November 30, 1937 (age 79)

Highest Rated Film: Alien (1979) – 97% RT

Latest Directorial Feature: Alien: Covenant (2017)

Only one can be declared the greatest director of all-time! Who will it be? FIGHT!

  • Poppity

    It’s hard to imagine that there was a time that Kate wasn’t with Spence. I’ve read about many of Hughes’ ladies but Kate’s name was never mentioned amongst them. She must have been with him quite early on.
    That’s a great clip, thank you! I haven’t seen the entire movie, at least not in one sitting. 🙂

  • zak1

    Oops. Correction – SIX decades, not four

    I haven’t read this, but I imagine it would be quite stirring – she always took such relish in her use of words

    Have you seen Cate Blanchett’s rendition of her? I was quite happy with it

  • zak1

    La Femme Nikita certainly does seem popular – the Besson original, plus a Hollywood remake, plus a Hong Kong remake, plus a 90s TV series starring Peta Wilson that ran 5 years, plus another TV series in the 2010s starring Maggie Q that ran another 4 years! So I guess Besson must be onto something!

  • Poppity

    I do like the American one as well and have a fondness for Gabriel Byrne. The French one was a lot rougher around the edges, that’s for sure. I haven’t seen enough of Besson’s stuff to form a valid opinion but he seems like the violent, destructive type. Interesting to hear that they made one in Hong Kong as well. I guess the story must be very popular! 🙂

  • Poppity

    Hepburn does indeed hold the record for four Oscars but Streep holds the record for most nominations. I don’t think she’ll break Hepburn’s record at this rate. I haven’t seen many recent movies due to lacks of both interest and availability but I did like Streep in her early days.

    Have you read Hepburn’s autobiography, by chance? I think it would be an amazing read and I just have to remind myself to put it on my wish list! 🙂

  • zak1

    Incidentally, I actually prefer the American version – I think the French one took itself too seriously – but my favorite version is Black Cat from Hong Kong, starring Jade Leung. Hong Kong is the master of derivative trash cinema – they add an extra dose of giddy nuttiness that makes it way more fun

  • zak1

    Hepburn had an astonishing career spanning four decades as a major star – ranging from her early comic brilliance to her late renaissance as a tragedienne in works by Williams, O’Neill, and Euripides. George Cukor, one of her early colleagues who had directed her in Little Women and Philadelphia Story, directed her much later in Love Among the Ruins, alongside Laurence Olivier, in which he paid homage to Hepburn’s lauded stage performance as Portia in Merchant of Venice.

    In terms of her status and ambition, and the scope of her career, I think only Meryl Streep compares – and Hepburn still holds the record with four Oscars for her performances. Plus, I feel Streep has retreated into easier roles in mediocre films that showcase her technique, whereas Hepburn challenged herself increasingly, breaking new ground in her later years with risky and formidable projects

  • zak1

    I believe what they meant was that now, since Nikita was so successful, we’d see the French film industry shifting to imitate Hollywood’s commercial schlockbuster model that’s been in place since the 80s –

    a sad fate for the film culture that brought us the Lumieres, L’Atlante, Beauty and the Beast, Jules and Jim, La Jetee, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg –

    Renoir is a great reference point because his father was Auguste Renoir, the great Impressionist painter, and on the international scene, French cinema seemed securely anchored in their incomparable cultural tradition –

    this is the nation that brought us Rabelais, Moliere, Poussin, Delacroix, Hugo, Flaubert, Proust, and the same Paris that incubated the painter Renoir and his compatriots, and then their successors as they figured out what visual representation would mean after the invention of photography – when cinema was born, Paris was the home of the avant garde, the home of Picasso –

    this was the locus where the exponents of cinema would figure out how this new medium could evolve into an art form comparable to its predecessors. It was Andre Bazin and his progeny, the Cahiers du Cinema film critics who would grow into the New Wave directors – these are the ones who conceptualized the Director as Author, and who first recognized and celebrated key Hollywood directors like Alfred Hitchcock as creative artists, whereas in the US at that time a Hitchcock would have been regarded as two steps away from a circus performer.

    One could say that, in his lineage and in his own artistic achievement, Jean Renoir represents this link between cinema and the larger tradition of the arts and humanities – he is the director who represents the link between cinema and humanity, the ultimate exponent of cinematic art as an exploration of life

    This post has gone on longer than I expected – so I’ll try to tie it together in relation to this thread topic – it’s hard for me to pick a Greatest Director – quite a few of the greatest films I find to be one-offs, mired in chance and accident – but Renoir is one of the few who immediately spring to my mind

  • Poppity

    I got the TCM collection of Hepburn’s films and I have not gotten a chance to see them although I have previously seen Stage Door which is marvelous. I must say that I have not seen enough of her to become a huge fan but I always keeps an open-mind, particuarly since there is so much room for growth within the Classic Film genre. I will keep your comments in mind when I watch Baby again! 🙂

  • Poppity

    I had never heard of La Femme Nikita referred to in such a way, how very interesting. I first watched it after I saw the “remake” Point of No Return and I was shocked how much the American version mimicked the French one, almost line per line in some scenes.

  • zak1

    I know Jean Gabin but not these others. My own knowledge of French cinema mostly boils down to Renoir and the New Wave – I remember one reviewer referring to La Femme Nikita as “the end of French cinema as we know it” and in many ways it feels true

  • zak1

    I certainly agree about the working conditions – I was referring just to the films

    Mixed thoughts about the question of actor salaries – I certainly agree about the frequently subpar work, but if the film makes a lot of money, it seems to make sense that the actors should get a share of that – the stars may be a big part of what attracted the crowd – as opposed to where else that money might go – but it is unfortunate how many stupid films make so much – I think there’s an interesting issue there about how films get marketed and distributed in today’s industry

    I agree about Cary Grant in Arsenic, but in Baby I think he’s well calibrated to the overall tenor of that film, exaggeration and all – and I think that is also one of Hepburn’s best roles, though sadly the film didn’t do well and she wasn’t so adventurous again with her comic persona

  • Poppity

    I don’t doubt that the results change with each new poll. In any case, I’m happy to see Hitchcock at the top of the list and am quite certain that he’ll always remain part of the top directors of all time. 🙂

    My interest in French cinema is limited, I must admit. I love American/British cinema but particularly the English language. Since living here, though, I have gotten to know some important classic players like Jean Gabin, Louis de Funès, Bourvil and Lino Ventura, amongst others. I’ve seen some contemporary/modern films but my interest is quite absent from the French pop culture scene.

  • Poppity

    Your thoughtful and detailed post is most appreciated, Zak! 🙂

    I’m a huge fan of the studio system era and the productions of the time although I’m not keen on how most of the players got treated in terms of salaries, suspensions, and contract terminations. That being said, I also think that today’s practise of paying actors millions upon millions of dollars for, on the whole, subpar work is ludicrous.
    I didn’t know that tidbit about Carpenter but now that you mention it, I think I’ll read up on it a bit further!

    I have seen a number of Howard Hawks movies and actually am going to do an upcoming review for a horror flick that he produced for RKO. I’ve also got the AFI review for Bringing Up Baby and it’s really due for a re-watch. Admittedly, I did not care for it the first time around but I think it’s mostly due to Cary’s over-the-top comedic style. I suppose I preferred him as a debonair gentleman. (I’ve had the same problem when watching Arsenic and Old Lace.)

  • zak1

    I think it’s fair to be bold if you’re going to pose the question in the first place – the whole concept of “greatest director” is by definition a matter of opinion

    If you’re curious, here is a link to a more widespread poll for this question:

    Every 10 years, Sight and Sound magazine asks hundreds of critics and directors their choice for best film ever

    What this website here did was count the total number of votes the films from each director received in the Sight and Sound poll, and used that to rank the filmmakers

    I think they just did that with the latest poll, from 2012 – so you see even on this level it’s hardly unanimous, and the results change with each new poll!

    But I think this particular outcome will make Poppity happy 😉

  • zak1

    I see you’re a fan of the studio system era – interesting because John Carpenter is certainly of that tradition and he has said he wishes he’d been born earlier so he could have been making films under that system

    Of these three here, my vote would have gone to Spielberg, because he is like Griffith in that among today’s filmmakers he most fully embodies that filmmaking tradition (for better or worse) – he IS Hollywood

    But I also would have voted for Hitchcock over Spielberg – he went further and extended the boundaries for everyone else – I think his biggest impact may have been how he got under the skin of the audience and drew attention to the act of looking and made the idea of voyeurism central to how we think of our role as a film-going audience. There’s also something thrilling in how far he flirts with artifice – as if all his films were actually dreams

    But my favorite Hollywood filmmaker is Howard Hawks – he worked so brilliantly across such a range of genres and his films in each aren’t only considered the greatest in those genres – they’re considered among the greatest films period – westerns with Red River and Rio Bravo, noir with The Big Sleep, WW2 thrillers with To Have and Have Not, sci-fi/horror with The Thing, gangsters with Scarface, and screwball comedy with Bringing up Baby and His Girl Friday. I think his secret was that in a sense he turned ALL his films into screwball comedies – there’s a sense of some kind of underlying cosmic joke underneath all his work that he was somehow able to translate with such amazing variety that elevated his work

    The thing about Hollywood, though, is how far it stubbornly insists that films are “just entertainment” – so when its people go further they’re almost apologetic about it. There’s a whole other world out there of people engaging more directly with life’s mysteries, trying to bring cinema to the level of the other arts. Welles, Ozu, Dreyer, Murnau, Bunuel, Renoir, Mizoguchi, Bergman, Godard, Antonioni, Eisenstein, Angelopolous, Ray (Satyajit), Dovzhenko, Tarkovsky, Oshima, Yimou, Marker, the Quays, Brackage, Deren, Rocha, Jarman

  • Truth.

  • Amen.

  • Nokoo

    I dunno, LEGEND and BLADE RUNNER were certainly off on their own boughs back in the day.

  • William Dhalgren


    I love all of these directors for various reasons. Kid me would vote for Spielberg. Blade Runner fan me would vote for Scott. But right now me says the guy who is responsible for They Live, Assault on Precinct 13, Escape From New York, The Thing, and Halloween deserves a win.


  • He does two things! He writes and directs. And he does them exceedingly well.

  • Poppity

    Or blame you for having voted Spielberg when you could have voted Hitchcock, leading to a tie. Tisk, tisk. 😉

  • Poppity

    As am I, accompanied by Mother Bates. She seeks revenge.

  • *blank stare*
  • sailor monsoon

    Go with your gut
    Which says carpenter

  • Frank Henenlotter


  • NoDuh!

    Wait, WHAT?!

  • NoDuh!

    Because he only does one thing…

    …although he does it well though!

  • NoDuh!

    Wait, so why NOT pick Carpenter?

  • NoDuh!

    The problem with this choice is that, each of these directors is very good in ways, totally different from the others. Without going into each one’s virtues, I’m going to vote for John Carpenter.

    Reason being, he is the one director of the three, that is willing to crawl out onto a limb and create those movies (and succeed) that most people, if they heard the premise for the movie before hand, would ask , ‘What the hell are you smoking?’.

    An urban police station, cut off from everything else, containing a handful of officers and civilians with dwindling firepower, surrounded by an endless onslaught of gang members?!! And you don’t have enough money to hire enough actors to play the bad guys, so you’ll just reuse the same guys and never show their faces??!!!

    A truck driver gets pulled into a supernatural, Asian gang war and has to fight mystical beings to save his girlfriend… and his truck??!!!

    Manhattan is a prison??!!!

  • Is that a vote for Spielberg then?

  • Larry Version 3

    I’m gonna go Spielberg. Never really watched much of Carpenter. Scott has his own style which I’ve enjoyed many times but he’s also put out a couple of meh films. Spielberg wins overall for me.

  • Joshua Martyniouk

    Im going to be for a while!

  • Completely random

  • Nokoo

    …isn’t enough.

  • Tanis11

    My heart says Ridley, but my mind is telling me Spielberg.

  • Tanis11

    Rigged bracket system.

  • sailor monsoon


  • Kemosabe

    It’s a mutiny and I’m onboard.

  • Kemosabe

    “*clears throat… J-Mart voice*”

    You don’t get to do that. I get to do that.

  • Nokoo

    As perfect a movie as THE THING is, and as fun as some of his other movies are, that’s not enough to say Carpenter’s filmmaking capabilities are up there with the other two.

  • sailor monsoon

    It’s the only logical solution

  • sailor monsoon

    I tried to judge objectively.
    Weighed their impact and influence over the other contenders.
    I personally like Spielberg more but Hitchcock inarguably left a bigger footprint
    You’re lucky akira kurosawa wasn’t included or you’d all be dead

  • Isn’t even in his top two picks. Sailor tries to sway him anyway

  • Hitchcock was close but Spielberg is more my form of cinema.

  • IsmackayoufacE

    I don’t care how about the number count of critically acclaimed movies or any of that pretentious bullshit. All I care about is that Carpenter directed two of my favorite movies, Halloween and Escape From New York. I pick Carpenter by a mile.

  • sailor monsoon

    They’re young
    Young people don’t know but you should’ve known better

  • Carpenter for his awesomeness. Spielberg is a close (very close) second.

  • sailor monsoon

    Vote carpenter.
    You know you want to

  • Nokoo

    Tough to decide between Scott and Spielberg. I abstain…

  • Nokoo

    You’re still in your childhood, Josh…

  • Oh pish posh, blame the two people who voted Tarantino who could have voted Hitchcock.

  • sailor monsoon

    And you voted for Spielberg
    So it was your fault!

  • Spielberg won by 1

  • Clearly the only true way to decide a winner is a Gladiatorial fight to the death. I bet Carpenter’s got some reach.

  • Are the other two motherfucking knights? Sir Ridley Scott!

  • Kemosabe

    Ridley Scott.

  • Kemosabe

    Hitchcock went over Spielberg? Aw man I missed that fight.

  • sailor monsoon

    It was Hitchcock
    Y’all voted wrong!

  • Poppity

    I must have missed the disclaimer addressing that this was all in fun. 😉

    This Battle Royale series is a lot of fun but it also demands some serious critical thinking on your behalf when it comes to choosing a “winner”. Most all of the guys (and eventual girls) mentioned in these match-ups are worthy to be in contention and it’s interesting to talk about the how’s and the why’s of their accompliments.
    I personally feel very strongly about Hitchcock in particular but also about other directors whose names and work have become faded and obsolete with time. Since most of my contributions revolved around Classic Film, it’s only natural that I should want to talk about them and, when it comes to a *fight* like we have here, defend them.

  • I was going to put /s after “greatest director of all time” as I meant it jokingly. We all know whoever wins isn’t really it. It doesn’t matter who wins because everyone has a different opinion of who the greatest director of all time with. There will never be a unanimous opinion. Remember this is all just for fun y’all!

  • Hitchcock.
    Ugh, seriously, how did Spielberg win over him? He almost only makes “movie” movies if that makes sense, there’s a reason his movies connect with everybody, they are just so archetypal…
    I’m in the same situation as @poppitypop:disqus below, I don’t really want to vote, but screw it, I’m going with Carpenter

  • Poppity

    Obviously Spielberg will win even though he is far from being the greatest director of all-time. He has done some important work like The Color Purple and Schindler’s List just to name two films but I don’t like his sci-fi themed movies or his latest stuff for the most part. Perhaps he should be coined the greatest director of the New Hollywood period but “of all-time” is just plain wrong.
    This is a fight, so I’m putting out my claws. I don’t just love Hitchcock for my own benefit or just as a reflection of my own cinematic tastes. He was beyond brilliant and is a founding father in the areas of film direction and film production. If it weren’t for him, neither Spielberg nor any other of the guys we have included in these past rounds would be where they are today. Hitchcock, Preminger, Wyler, Ray, Stevens, Cukor, and so many more forefathers deserve some credit.

    I don’t feel particularly enticed to vote but since I’m here, Carpenter gets it.

  • Hitchcock and Spielberg were paired with him in semi finals. He had a tough pairing.

  • Bowel

  • seriously, as a horror guy, Carpenter- I was raised on Big Trouble in Little China.

  • Spielberg

  • George Romero

  • Joshua Martyniouk

    Spielberg was my childhood!
    Carpenter just scared the hell out of me!
    The winner is Spielberg!

  • Wait… How is Tarantino not a finalist?

  • Man… As much as I prefer movies by Carpenter and Scott, Spielberg is more consistent with his craft, and basically created the summer blockbuster.

    So… Uwe Boll.

  • Joe Newman

    I really want to pick Carpenter, but it’s Spielberg.

  • Joe Newman
  • Steven Spielberg. The Martian is really my only favorite Ridley film and Carpenter I know has some classics but not enough.

    *clears throat… J-Mart voice*
    I’m voting for Spielberg because Ready Player One will be great!

  • TheDeadFellow

    There can be only one and his name is Ridley Scott.

  • DryButSoupy

    If this was a football game, it’d be one of those situations where the conference championships were more exciting than the super bowl.

    Spielberg by a mile.

  • Claudio Sanchez Hair

    Carpenter is clearly the best of the three.

    So I’m voting for Spielberg

  • sailor monsoon

    Spielberg is clearly the best of the three.

    So I’m voting for carpenter