It’s still the season for rankings!

Following Star Wars: Episode XIV – The Rise Of Skywalker, here are my Star Wars Movie rankings as of the day of publication…

Ranking these movies is a tough task because my feelings toward them blend both subjective childhood excitement to more tangible, critical approaches. It’s hard to balance, and for sure people are not going to agree with this list. Everyone’s got their preferences. It all depends when you were introduced to Star Wars, in what order you watched them, how people around you approach science fiction…there are a ton of variables.

Regardless of how you rank the movies, one can’t deny that Star Wars is a cultural touchstone that has touched people in numerous ways.

Now as you begin to scroll, the list goes from my least favorite to ultimate favorite.

Number 11

Star Wars: Episode II – Attack Of The Clones (2002)

Director: George Lucas
Writer: Jonathan Hales, George Lucas
Cinematographer: David Tattersall

Staring: Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Hayden Christensen, Christopher Lee, Samuel L. Jackson

By far the worst dialogue and acting among all the Star Wars movies. I used to think that Anakin and Padme’s relationship was something to strive for…

I am confident in saying this will be the basement level of my Star Wars rankings for the foreseeable future.

Only redeeming quality is the Yoda vs. Count Dooku lightsaber duel.

Number 10

Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise Of Skywalker (2019)

Director: J.J. Abrams
Writer: Chris Terrio, J.J. Abrams, Derek Connolly, Colin Trevorrow, George Lucas
Cinematographer: Dan Mindel

Staring: Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Issac, Anthony Daniels

Is this recency bias? Maybe. Do I place it here knowing that regardless? You betcha.

The worst screenplay of any of the Star Wars movies. No plan, no conviction, no payoff. The most exciting parts of the movie or undone literally minutes after they happen.

This movie’s failure falls mostly on Disney and larger enterprise of harmful fan fiction and over-coddling satisfaction.

“Star Wars: Episode XIV – The Rise Of Skywalker” – An Overload Lazy Sendoff

Number 9

Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999)

Director: George Lucas
Writer: George Lucas
Cinematographer: David Tattersall

Staring: Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Ian McDiarmid, Jake Lloyd, Liam Neeson

Close your mouth. I know I have this ranked above Episode IX.

I know, maybe its blasphemy. But still The Phantom Menace left in impact on me as a kid. I’d go “pod racing” when sledding as a kid, and there is no denying the duel sided lightsaber of Darth Maul was ridiculous important to my childhood self.

Upon re-watching, the political plotline is befuddling and the whole story is raptured by some odd choices (Midichlorians…virgin savoir mother?), but there was a plan. It was a bad plan, but a plan none the less. It was like the Daenerys Targaryen movie; loves to plan, but makes the wrong moves.

And so explains why The Phantom Menace is above The Rise Of Skywalker. I like knowing there was some sort of coherent thought process rather than drawing through lines from Reddit comments.

Number 8

Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)

Director: Ron Howard
Writer: Jonathan Kasdan, Lawrence Kasdan, George Lucas
Cinematographer: Bradford Young

Staring: Alden Ehrenreich, Joonas Suotamo, Woody Harrelson, Emilie Clark, Donald Glovers

This movie gets a bad reputation, and it doesn’t deserve as much blow back as it gets. Sure Alden Ehrenreich wasn’t all everyone wanted as the titular Han Solo, but there are others that shine. I think Emilia Clarke as Qi’ra and Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian are both stellar. Also Phoebe Waller-Bridge seems to be having so much fun as the sassy and liberating L3-37.

Maybe we (Star Wars fans in general) wanted more from Solo: A Star Wars Story, but just because expectations weren’t met doesn’t mean it was bad. The double twist at the end is effective, but admittedly the Darth Maul reveal was a bit too much.

Enjoyed how Solo shot Beckett first to re-emphasis the universally accepted original version of A New Hope’s showdown again Greedo.

Number 7

Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi (2017)

Director: Rian Johnson
Writer: Rian Johnson, George Lucas
Cinematographer: Steve Yedlin

Staring: Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Issac, Mark Hamill

I readily admit that I was not a big fan of The Last Jedi when it came out, and I still have major gripes about it, but there is not doubting that it raised up in my rankings after the disaster of The Rise Of Skywalker.

The Last Jedi is the most visually striking of the modern Star Wars editions. Along with his eyes, Rian Johnson wrote the movie to strike a chord. Battling against the traditional hero’s journey, this movie put Rey in a different light compared to what people expected. There is no Arthurian tale of rightful power; it’s a climb from nothing to hopefully something. There isn’t a guarantee or glory…well so we thought until The Rise Of Skywalker just retconned it all.

“Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi” Movie Review – Stanko Take

Number 6

Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge Of The Sith (2005)

Director: George Lucas
Writer: George Lucas
Cinematographer: David Tattersall

Staring: Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Hayden Christensen, Christopher Lee, Samuel L. Jackson

I stand for Revenge Of The Sith. As part of a trilogy that admittedly had two pretty sub-par movies, this third act rounded out things as strong as it could. Hayden Christensen dramatically improved his acting from Attack Of The Clones despite more than a few moments still being ham-fisted.

The scene with Supreme Chancellor Palpatine and Anakin Skywalker at the opera is incredibly important and very well acted by Ian McDairmid. The opening sequence is thrilling, and I remember being blown away with the way it looked when first seeing it.


Number 5

Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015)

Director: J.J. Abrams
Writer: Lawrence Kasdan, J.J. Abrams, Michael Arndt, George Lucas
Cinematographer: Dan Mindel

Staring: Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Issac, Harrison Ford

If I am being honest, part of the reason The Force Awakens is this high on my rankings is because of its first trailer release. When that Millennium Falcon swoops into the sky and the score crescendos, I melted into a puddle of tears.

But as a movie itself, The Force Awakens is a wonderful rehash. It’s what J.J. Abrams does best. He had source material to pay homage to, and the story and characters toe the line of playing with the familiar and introducing the new so wonderfully.  The movie was meant to submerge you in the Star Wars world again and it do so perfectly.

Also upon rewatch, Rey’s force grab of the lightsaber when battling Kylo Ren is freaking amazing. Goosebumps more now then when I remember seeing it the first time. It was magic. It was Star Wars wonder.

Number 4

Star Wars: Episode VI – Return Of The Jedi (1983)

Director: Richard Marquand
Writer: Lawrence Kasdan, George Lucas
Cinematographer: Alan Hume, Alec Mills

Staring: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams, James Earl Jones

This was my favorite as a kid, and for that reason it is this high. It’s fair to say this is the safest of the original trilogy, but it’s still a very good capstone for a hero’s journey.

Luke gets his version of Excalibur with his green lightsaber, and the moment he first reveals it going full gymnastics avoiding the Sarlacc is still engrained in my head. I played that out with my action figures countlessly.

The Ewoks appear hooky now. The acting is not as strong in Return Of The Jedi as its predecessor, and the rehash of the Death Star is repetitive…but still somehow it has magic. I remember being inspired by Luke showing courage to go face Darth Vader; good not being afraid of evil.

It left an impact on me and will be ingrained in my mind as a successful conclusion to the ultimate trilogy.

Number 3

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

Director: Gareth Edwards
Writer: Chris Weitz, Tony Gilroy, John Knoll, Gary Whitta, George Lucas
Cinematographer: Greig Fraser

Staring: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Alan Tudyk, Ben Mendelsohn, Mads Mikkelsen

Oh, this movie looked so freaking cool. Rogue One has some of the best action movies in the entire franchise. The guerilla style of warfare is different from the grand scale of “formations” type of confrontations Star Wars fans are used to.

I really liked Felicity Jones in the role of Jyn Erso, and Alan Tudyk puts forward the best droid performance and persona with K-2SO.

But really, THAT ENDING THOUGH! Darth Vader lightsaber wielding like a badass and just slaying rebels left and right. Simply remarkable.

On a bit of a deeper note, the ability to close out a movie well when everyone knows the ending is incredibly difficult. Rogue One does so extremely well, sifting emotion through all points it can with characters you care about.

Number 2

Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977)

Director: George Lucas
Writer: George Lucas
Cinematographer: Gilbert Taylor

Staring: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, James Earl Jones, Alex Guinness

The one that started it all. It must up near the top; there is no other option.

A New Hope was the first of its kind and remains one of the most influential pieces of movie history ever.

This ranks second among the Star Wars movies for me because it launched my love for the franchise and science fiction genre. It’s pretty cut and dry: A New Hope is iconic.

Number 1

Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Director: Irvin Kershner
Writer: Lawrence Kasdan, Leigh Brackett, George Lucas
Cinematographer: Peter Suschitzky

Staring: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams, James Earl Jones

This is the best movie of the bunch. It may be the best sequel ever made.

The Empire Strikes Back is the peak of the “Star Wars” franchise on so many levels. Besides getting knockout performances from the cast (in particular Harrison Ford), and delivering some of the most iconic lines of dialogue in cinematic history…The Empire Strikes Back stands above the rest because it took risks and flourished in their consequences.

Harrison Ford leads the charge in terms of acting with his charisma just spewing off the screen. His romantic banter with Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia is how romantic tension is meant to be played out. Take notes Attack Of The Clones.

This movie expanded the power of the force to levels people didn’t expect. It left an impact on the culture that sent massive ripple effects and that people had to wait to get the conclusion of. The Empire Strikes Back is science fiction and fantasy movie royalty.

Stanko Stance – Favorite 10 Movies Of The Decade Podcast
“Just End The Suffering” Podcast, Episode 88: Star Wars Special
“Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise Of Skywalker” – An Overloaded Lazy Sendoff
Stanko Stance: “The Rise Of Skywalker” Instant Reaction (Spoilers…and NSFW)

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