What are the best Star Wars movies? The franchise from a galaxy far, far away, is one which we hold very close to our hearts, so picking a favourite movie out of the 11 currently released isn’t easy.
Since the Skywalker saga began back in 1977, we have seen the original trilogy establish itself as one of the pioneering triple bills in sci-fi movie history. The prequel trilogy in the late 90s and early 00s was… less successful, shall we say? And then, in 2015, Disney ushered in a new era with the sequel trilogy, introducing us to a fresh band of incredible Star Wars characters. Disney has also given us two spin-off Star Wars movies, which flesh out the vast lore of Star Wars.
So, which Star Wars movies deserve to be heralded among the upper echelons of Star Wars history, and which installments are letting the franchise down? We have ranked all 11 Star Wars movies, from worst to best.
The Star Wars movies ranked:
11. Attack of the Clones
10. The Rise of Skywalker
8. The Phantom Menace
7. Rogue One
6. A New Hope
5. Return of the Jedi
4. Revenge of the Sith
3. The Force Awakens
2. The Last Jedi
1. The Empire Strikes Back
11. Attack of the Clones (2002)
Politics has always played a pivotal role in the conflict at the heart of all Star Wars movies, and we love that about it. But, that doesn’t mean we want to sit and watch political debates for two hours, just to be rewarded with a fairly dull battle at the end of it all.
Between the scenes in the senate, the plot-hole-ridden side-quest of Obi-Wan Kenobi’s investigation into the clones, and Anakin and Padme’s cringe-worthy romantic moments, Attack of the Clones is a forgettable and lethargic entry into the franchise, which does little to actually develop the narrative journey.
10. The Rise of Skywalker (2019)
You know when parents say they’re not angry, they’re just disappointed? Well, when it comes to The Rise of Skywalker, we’re actually both very angry and very disappointed. After building such a strong foundation with the first two installments in the sequel trilogy, Disney just needed to tie it all off nicely with the final film in the Skywalker saga, and we would have been very happy.
Sadly, what transpired is a messy and thoughtless attempt at fan service which not only derails the sequel trilogy, but actually does serious harm to the entire Star Wars legacy. Somehow, Palpatine returned, and we hate it!
9. Solo (2018)
Retreading the story of one of the most iconic Star Wars heroes was always going to be a tricky path to navigate, and to be fair, Alden Ehrenreich does a pretty good job of respecting the legacy of Harrison Ford, while also adding his own take on the character of Han Solo.
Solo is not a bad film by any means. On a technical level it’s as strong as you’d expect from Disney, and it also gives us a fantastic performance by Donald Glover as a young Lando Calrissian, for which we are eternally grateful. Unfortunately, it’s ultimately a story which didn’t really need to be told, and one which adds very little to the Star Wars experience.
8. The Phantom Menace (1999)
Now that’s pod-racing! Back in 1999, Star Wars finally returned to the big screen, and there’s lots to love about The Phantom Menace. We got a brilliant villain in the form of Darth Maul, which also gave us the timeless Duel of the Fates musical cue, and the epic three-way battle between Maul, Kenobi, and Qui-Gon Jinn.
However, it’s important to remember that this movie also introduced us to Midichlorians, and of course, Jar Jar Binks! While there are plenty of fun moments in The Phantom Menace, it’s still a chaotic mess of CGI and silly plot points, that just about survives on nostalgia alone.
7. Rogue One (2016)
In similar fashion to Solo, this spin-off feels like another entry into the Star Wars series which doesn’t necessarily need to exist. Rogue One bridges the gap between Episode III and IV, with a particular focus on the successful acquisition of the plans for the Death Star. The movie introduces us to a few new heroes, but the nature of their suicide mission makes it hard to become too attached to any of them.
Nonetheless, what Rogue One does offer is some of the finest cinematography we’ve ever seen in Star Wars movies, thanks to the skill of Greig Frasier (who also worked on The Batman and Dune). And, arguably, the coolest scene in Star Wars history, as Darth Vader goes full horror movie mode on the rebels.
6. A New Hope (1977)
Credit where credit’s due, if it wasn’t for A New Hope, we wouldn’t be writing this list right now, and our lives would have a Star Wars shaped hole. George Lucas and his crazy space opera had to start somewhere, and this movie builds some pretty strong foundations for what is to follow. We meet our legendary trio of heroes in Luke, Leia, and Han; we learn the ways of the force from old Obi-Wan Kenobi, and we come face to face with the fearsome Darth Vader.
But, let’s not ignore the fact that a lot of this movie is just Luke Skywalker being a moody teenager, who learns how to be a Jedi about as quickly as he forgets about his Aunt and Uncle being burnt to a crisp. It’s not the most exciting of Star Wars movies, but A New Hope is a crucial cog in the franchise.
5. Return of the Jedi (1983)
Again, we have to respect the importance of the original trilogy, and Return of the Jedi is a pretty damn cool movie too! The epic fight scene as the trilogy comes to a close is right up there as one of the best moments in Star Wars history, with the emotional father-son connection between Luke and Vader proving too strong for Palpatine and the dark side of the force.
The movie opens with Luke saving his friends like an absolute bad-ass too. There’s Boba Fett’s infamous demise, lots of jumping around, and questionable shooting accuracy. It’s not perfect, but we appreciate the energy.
4. Revenge of the Sith (2005)
Say what you will about the prequel trilogy, but Revenge of the Sith is a truly brilliant conclusion to the second chapter of the Star Wars franchise. As we see Anakin lured to the dark side, and Palpatine’s sinister Order 66 executed with eerie precision, Star Wars goes darker than ever before, and is all the better for it.
The thrilling duel between Anakin and Obi-Wan on Mustafar is an epic and emotional conflict, and is one of the most intense battles of the franchise. Anakin’s eventual demise at the hands of his Jedi master gives extra weight to the eventual rise of Darth Vader, and even more significance to their meeting in A New Hope.
3. The Force Awakens (2015)
It’s safe to say many Star Wars fans were sceptical about Disney revisiting the franchise, but while the sequel trilogy isn’t perfect (looking at you, Episode IX), it kicked off in style with The Force Awakens. Some of the best characters in the whole franchise are introduced here; from heroes like Rey and Finn, and of course, the formidable Kylo Ren.
We love seeing Rey develop her Jedi mind tricks, Finn battling his old Stormtrooper buddy, and Han Solo reconnecting with his long-lost son. Admittedly, the narrative beats are somewhat reminiscent of A New Hope, but the new characters imbue this movie with plenty of fun, thrills, and wonder.
2. The Last Jedi (2017)
Is it safe to say The Last Jedi absolutely rules yet? The fanbase got pretty toxic about this movie at the time of release, and all because Rian Johnson dared to do something a little bit different. Honestly, we love that this movie threw out the Star Wars rulebook and subverted expectations.
The Last Jedi not only adds nuance to, and offers a poignant conclusion to Luke Skywalker’s legacy, it also boasts one of the coolest lightsaber battles of all time. The throne room team-up of Kylo and Rey pretty much lives in our head rent-free.
1. The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
As much as we love two of the newer Star Wars movies, you just can’t beat The Empire Strikes Back! From Luke’s training on Degobah with Yoda, to the tension-filled escapades on Bespin, culminating in the most iconic twist in movie history, Episode V has it all.
This movie looks great, the story is wonderfully crafted, and the set pieces are truly epic. This is not just the best Star Wars movie, it’s one of the best movies all time, period.
So, that’s all the Star Wars movies ranked! Remember, this is entirely subjective, and we’re sure there are plenty who would do it differently. But, at the end of the day, we love all the franchise – we just love some of it more than others. Why not check out our ranking of the Batman movies next!