Love these articles Patrick - please keep em coming!
Need to put on my FX fan boy hat though regarding the Alien suit, Giger did win a Acadamy Award for it, for Visual Effects back in the day!
I don't think at that time anyone sighed and thought ill of it when looking at it on set, it was an amazing, unseen design in its hey day sculpted and executed by Giger. To top it off they got an imposingly tall, super thin, 7'2 dude (Bolaji Badejo) to stomp around in it. Totally agree with you though that Ridley Scott knew what to do in respect to subtlety and working with its strengths (and weaknesses) and how to shoot it, (with that exception being the last awkward shuttle shot - not great, with you there).
That suit, the design, its execution (especially without modern silicone or other modern molding materials) - brilliant! I am taking an ongoing sculpting class with Stan Winston Studios that started earlier this month (the studio that later worked on Aliens), and that suit is really respected in the FX community, it was amazing!