What is the Best Star Wars Movie in the series? The Star Wars Movies RANKED!
By: Preston Simmons | Written: January 11th, 2022
May the Force be With you
Star Wars is one of the most iconic series in pop culture. Loved by fans of all ages, Star Wars has had such an essential role in the entertainment industry and so many people’s lives around the world.
It all started in 1977 with the release of Star Wars: A New Hope and the simple words stating, “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away,” and from there, Star Wars forever changed the world. Since 1977, countless stories have been told in the Star Wars universe, including books, comics, tv shows, and video games. However, Star Wars movies are considered the most important of all forms of media.
As of 2022, there have been 11 Star Wars live-action movies released since 1977.
The Star Wars Movies, in order of release, include:
- Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)
- Star Wars, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
- Star Wars, Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983)
- Star Wars, Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999)
- Star Wars, Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002)
- Star Wars, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
- Star Wars, Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015)
- Star Wars: Rogue One (2016)
- Star Wars, Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (2017)
- Star Wars: Solo (2018)
- Star Wars, Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)
Of these 11, which is the best Star Wars movie? This debate has been long going since the end of the original trilogy, the reemergence of the prequel trilogy, and more recently since the sequel trilogy concluded. Each fan of the series has their own opinion on this topic, and more than likely, if you ask five separate people their thoughts, you’ll get five different answers.
Some say the best Star Wars movie is located in the original trilogy. Others say the best Star Wars movie is situated in the prequel trilogy. And some more brave fans claim that the best Star Wars movie is in the sequel trilogy.
What is the best Star Wars movie? Let’s find out!
RELATED: Do you consider yourself a Star Wars fan? Have you seen all the Star Wars movies? Take the Ultimate Stars Wars Movie Trivia Quiz and see just how strong the Force flows through you!
#11 – Star Wars, Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker
Number 11 is Star Wars, Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker. This is not the best Star Wars movie ever made, but it is instead, in my opinion, the worst.
This movie was meant to be the conclusion to a 40-year saga that started with A New Hope. The Rise of Skywalker accomplished very little adding to the Star Wars universe. All it did was unnecessarily re-do storylines that other Star Wars films had already done 35 years prior in a mediocre fashion.
The forgettable characters, weak plot points, and unremarkable writing plague this final installation leaving a bad taste in the mouth. The only positive that the Rise of Skywalker has is that the cinematography and action sequences are incredible. It’s a shame because the acting is excellent, especially from Adam Driver and Daisy Ridley.
The only thing that The Rise of Skywalker accomplishes is confirming that widespread fan suspicion that the writers for the sequel trilogy had no idea what story they wanted to tell. They didn’t know how to finish it, so instead, it felt as if the writers put a bunch of Star Wars keywords on a dartboard, threw a few darts at it, and came up with a sub-par story corresponding with the keywords the darts landed on.
“Somehow, Palpatine returned.”
No. Just, no.
Ironically, I think this movie has one of the best trailers in the series; chills every time.
#10 – Star Wars, Episode VIII: The Last Jedi
Number 10 is Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi. After Star Wars: The Force Awakens, fans were so excited to get to see Luke again after so many years finally. Luke, the chosen one, is the hero who saved the Republic and defeated the Empire. The last remaining Jedi who, after 30 years, could only be more powerful than anyone could ever imagine, right?
Well, as we all know by now, that’s not the story Rian Johnson told us. What we got instead was a Luke who turned away from the Force altogether, disavowed the Jedi Order, and became a cranky older man who likes to drink blue milk straight from the Alien teat. Disappointing is an understatement.
Apart from Luke, The Last Jedi is ranked as the second-worst Star Wars movie because the plot does absolutely nothing to progress the overall story of the sequel trilogy. You could say if The Last Jedi didn’t exist and the films went straight from The Force Awakens to The Rise of Skywalker, nothing would change in the story. The Last Jedi felt meaningless and honestly did nothing more than ruin previously beloved characters (flying Leia? Come on.).
I will give The Last Jedi some credit, though. The movie looked incredible. The cinematography, CGI, and color scheme used throughout were breathtaking. Standouts include the overhead shots on Luke’s island, the color red used during the Snoke throne room battle sequence, the Crait sequence, and finally, Holdo’s sacrifice. All of those sequences or shots were beautiful to look at and some of the best use of cinematography in the series.
But beautiful, shiny bantha poodoo is still bantha poodoo, and The Last Jedi is Bantha poodoo.
All of that said, once again, the trailer for the movie was amazing, which adds to the disappointment.
#9 – Star Wars, Episode II: Attack of the Clones
Number 9 on the list to find the best Star Wars movie is Star Wars, Episode II: Attack of the Clones. The main issue I have with Attack of the Clones is that there is virtually no chemistry between the central characters in the movie, Anakin and Padme. Unfortunately, more than half of the film is dedicated to Anakin protecting Padme and, in doing so, falling in love with her and vice versa.
Half of the time, Anakin is an angsty teenager, while Padme comes across as a much more mature figure. Anakin constantly complains about how much everything sucks and how everyone holds him back in life while Padme sits there and listens to him whine and pats him on the back.
Then in what was probably one of the most forced and out of nowhere confessions ever spoken in cinema history, Padme declares her undying, deep love for Anakin. True, they were about to die when it happened, but even still, nothing previously shown in the movie supported that declaration at all. This is weird, considering their entire plotline was focused on their relationship.
However, the final thirty minutes or so of the movie, which just so happens to be immediately after the confession, is fantastic. The Execution, the biggest Jedi battle in the entire series, the arrival of the Clone Army, and finally Yoda’s first on-screen lightsaber duel with Count Dooku were all very well done. The problem is that it takes a full hour and fifty minutes to get to the good parts of the movie, and for that, Episode II comes in at number 9.
#8 – Star Wars, Episode I: The Phantom Menace
Number 8 is Star Wars, Episode I: The Phantom Menace. There are two issues with the Phantom Menace that prevent it from ranking any higher in the list leading up to the best Star Wars movie in the series. The problems come in the form of two characters, Jar Jar Binks and Anakin Skywalker.
Before I begin, I’d like to say that both of the actors did the best they could with the material they were given. Jake Lloyd, who played Anakin, was a kid barely over 10 when the film was made, and he did really well for a kid his age. Ahmed Best, who played Jar Jar Binks, also did a great job bringing the character to life. So, what was the problem if it was not the actors? It was in writing.
The writing in The Phantom Menace is simply atrocious at times. Nearly all of Jar Jar Binks’ lines are without any redeeming qualities, besides being hilarious for all of the wrong reasons. Take these three lines, for example: “Muy muy I love you!”, “Exqueeze me!” and “Icky icky goo!” How about these two gems from Anakin: “I’ll try spinning, that’s a good trick!” or “Now this is Podracing!”.
Looking back nearly 22 years later, and thanks to the friendly folks at r/prequelmemes, I find almost all the lines said by Jar Jar and Anakin to be hilarious and, in a way, I sort of love them. But objectively speaking, the writing for these two characters is terrible.
However, two moments in this movie almost make up for the characters mentioned above. The Pod Race and the Duel of Fates are worthy of being top 10 moments in Star Wars. The Pod Race is just amazing. The sound design, the lack of dialogue, and its uniqueness compared to the rest of the series make it a standout moment. Thanks to John Williams and his masterpiece score, the Duel of Fates is probably the third-best fight in the series.
Overall, if it weren’t for Jar Jar and Anakin, The Phantom Menace would be much higher on the list and much closer to the best Star Wars movie.
#7 – Solo, A Stars Wars Story
Number 7 on the list is Solo, A Star Wars Story. Solo is the origin story of Han Solo, the most famous smuggler in all of Star Wars. It covers how he got his name, met Chewie and Lando Calrissian, and ended up with the Millennium Falcon. It’s a fun story and overall a good movie, not to mention, like pretty much all of the newer films, it looked stunning.
The problem with Solo is that it’s a good movie, but that’s it. It’s not great, it’s good. It’s enjoyable and worth watching, but only maybe once. The movie as a whole, especially compared to the films that will appear later in the list, is pretty forgettable. Only one scene in the film is memorable: the famous Corellian Run.
When Solo first was released in theaters in 2018, it got a bad rep immediately. Fans wrote off the movie before it was even released. Honestly, that was a shame because Solo was nowhere near as bad as people made it sound. Because of the film’s terrible reception, Disney decided to indefinitely put on hold all future stand-alone Star Wars “stories,” like Solo.
It was an excellent one-and-done popcorn movie. Unfortunately, being just good sometimes isn’t enough.
#6 – Star Wars, EPisode VII: The Force Awakens
Number 6 is Star Wars, Episode VII: The Force Awakens. This movie was perhaps one of the most hyped movies in the last decade. This was the return of Star Wars and the beginning of a new trilogy directed by J.J Abrams, who was previously famous for his Bad Robot production company known for many incredible series like Lost and the rebirth of Star Trek.
Not only that, but the trailer for this movie is a pop culture phenomenon. It was all people could talk about when it was released. I can’t even tell you how many times I watched it when it first came out. It was that good.
And those trailers are probably the best thing that has come out of these sequels.
Like Solo, the Force Awakens is a good movie but not a great one. It’s more memorable than Solo is, but not by much. However, the building blocks that this movie set up for the rest of the trilogy were great. Rey and Finn’s backstory, what happened after the Empire was destroyed in Return of the Jedi, what was Kylo Ren’s story on how he turned to the Darkside, The Force Awakens provided so much potential for character building and expansion of the universe as a whole in the next two movies in the series.
It didn’t happen, but after watching this movie, the possibilities of the sequel trilogy being amazing was not too far-fetched.
#5 – Star Wars, Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
Number 5 is Star Wars, Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. We’re finally getting closer to what the best Star Wars movie is. There will be a lot less criticism from here on out because these are the best Star Wars movies in the series.
Return of the Jedi was the epic conclusion of the original trilogy. After the massive revelation in Empire Strikes Back, a year had passed by, and Luke now is a full Jedi. Here, he must confront Darth Vader and the Emperor once and for all and end the evil rule of the Empire.
But before he can get to that, he needs to rescue his friends from Jabba the Hutt and, after that, take down the shields of the newly built second Death Star that is remotely controlled on the Endor moon inhabited by the native Ewoks.
Through the Ewoks, Return of the Jedi places fifth on the list and not higher. The Ewoks are not good at all. The entire Ewok plotline is just bad and uninspired.
But, other than that, the rest of the movie is excellent. The final confrontation between Luke, Darth Vader, and the Emperor is amazing. The space battle with the Millennium Falcon and the Rebellion fleet feels epic and works as a conclusion to the trilogy.
Return of the Jedi felt like the proper ending that the trilogy deserved and solidified the original three movies as being the best complete trilogy in the series.
#4 – Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope
Number 4 is Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope. This is the one that started it all. The movie created countless fans and forever changed pop culture as we know it.
A New Hope is, by far, the most iconic, memorable, and re-watchable movie on the list. Pretty much every scene in the film is remarkable in some way, whether for the creativity, the set pieces, the costumes, music, or writing. The chemistry between our three leads, Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher, is off the charts. It’s one of many aspects that the original trilogy does so much better than either the prequels or the sequels.
But what I think deserves attention is just how groundbreaking this movie was cinematically and how different this movie was compared to anything else ever made at the time. George Lucas created Star Wars in 1977 when CGI was barely a thing; therefore, almost all of the effects were practical effects. The Death Star, the Millennium Falcon, the X-Wings, and all alien species were real. Sure, most were miniature models or puppets, but the sheer amount of creativity that the movie displayed had never been done before.
Indeed, A New Hope is an incredible piece of art that is so important to modern filmmaking as a whole and, in a way, culture in general.
With that said, why is it only ranked 4th and not higher?
Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope is just the Hero’s Journey in film form. If you put all of that aside and look at the story objectively, it’s one of the simplest stories in the series that, in a way, has been told hundreds of times before. Every single story beat corresponds to the Hero’s Journey perfectly.
It’s a fantastic movie, arguably a masterpiece, but not, in my opinion, the best Star Wars movie.
#3 – Star Wars, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
Number 3 is Star Wars, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. For many years (and still to this day), many people considered the Empire Strikes back the best Star Wars movie ever made, for good reasons.
The score is iconic with the Imperial March, Yoda, and his wisdom during his training with Luke is filled with memorable lines, finally, the film’s ending. Perhaps the greatest plot twist of all time in an ending that almost every person above the age of ten knows. Which is also, by far, the most well-known, yet misquoted, movie line of all time, “No, I am your father.”
I think it’s because of the ending that so many people believe the Empire Strikes Back is the best Star Wars movie ever made. However, I need to argue against that notion because I can’t agree.
The Empire Strikes Back is fantastic in so many ways, but it’s not perfect. The movie has a languid middle section that I think many people forget about due to the sheer overpowering nature of the ending. Does the phrase Giant Worm ring any bells? Yes, in my opinion, Han Solo and Leia’s stay in the giant asteroid, a giant worm’s mouth, brings the movie down. Not only that, I would argue that until Han Solo and Leia are captured in Cloud City, their storyline isn’t that great in general. It’s, I hate to say it, boring.
Everything else, though, is pure *chef’s kiss*.
#2 – Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
There is a difference between what I consider my favorite Star Wars movie and the best Star Wars movie. Number 2 is Star Wars, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. Revenge of the Sith is my favorite Star Wars movie, but not what I think is the best Star Wars movie.
Let me get my problem with this movie out of the way. The opening act is not that good. I would argue that if the entire Palpatine rescue mission were cut from the film, this would be what I would consider the perfect Star Wars movie. But I guess they had to eliminate Count Dooku, and it couldn’t be done off-screen, so they figured it was best to do it as quickly as possible. Not the best decision, but an understandable one.
If, instead, they cut General Grievous out of the film altogether and replaced the Grievous scenes with Dooku, I think it would have been a massive improvement overall. I love Grievous, but Dooku should have been Obi-Wan’s antagonistic foil during that part of the movie instead.
Okay, with that out of the way, from the moment Anakin and Obi-Wan land Grievous’s ship on Coruscant, the film is perfect. Watching the tragedy unfold is heartbreaking and watching the destruction of the Jedi Order is like watching a modern-day Shakespearean play. Anakin’s struggle between doing what he believes is right and doing what the Jedi are ordering him to do is so poetic. Internally, his battle between love and what’s right is perfect storytelling.
And it all leads up to what I consider the most incredible duel in all of Star Wars; Obi-Wan vs. Anakin. This duel is one of the best action sequences not only in Star Wars but in all of cinema. The music, the ferocity, the sheer pain and anguish that Hayden Christensen and Ewan McGregor display throughout truly makes you forget you’re watching actors on screen. And interspersed between the fight is Yoda vs. the Emperor, which is so good.
This movie is simply incredible and so close to being the best Star Wars movie ever made. For a long time, I thought it was. But then, an unexpected film was released in 2016. It was a movie that no one asked for, a movie that arrived with little hype, a movie that blew all expectations out of the water.
It is what that I believe to be the best Star Wars movie ever made.
#1 – Star Wars: Rogue One
The best Star Wars movie ever made is Rogue One. It’s not my favorite in the series, that title belongs to Revenge of the Sith, but it perfectly captures everything Star Wars is. In my opinion, Rogue One is the best Star Wars movie and the perfect Star Wars movie.
Star Wars is a universe filled with ordinary people at the end of everything. It isn’t only Jedi and Sith fighting with lightsabers and using the Force. Star Wars is a story about ordinary people doing extraordinary things, fighting against an insurmountable evil. Out of all the films in the series, Rogue One lives up to the title of “Star Wars” above all others.
In Rogue One, none of the characters have force powers, none of the characters have plot armor, and none of the characters feel unrealistic. Rogue One is the grittiest, most brutal, and war-like film in the series.
Rogue One also acts as a perfect bridge between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. It builds upon the universe in meaningful ways and places itself in the series to feel completely necessary to watch to get the complete picture.
There are two main aspects of Rogue One that deserve special attention; the Death Star and “that” hallway scene.
The Death Star in Rogue One is breathtaking. Incredibly, even though at this point, we had seen the Death Star, or versions like it (in The Force Awakens) multiple times by this point. We’ve known what it was capable of for so many years. We saw it in action.
Yet, it wasn’t until Rogue One that we honestly could understand how devastatingly powerful and downright scary the Death Star was until we witnessed its power on the actual planet that is attacked. Seeing the destruction of Jedha was incredible and unlike anything I had ever seen in a film. Then seeing the Death Star appear at the final moments during the Battle of Scarif, knowing just how hopeless of a situation we find our main characters in, showed just how mighty the Empire was.
The second aspect that I must highlight is the hallway scene. If you need a refresher, check it out here. Now think back. Have you ever seen Darth Vader appear that powerful before in any of the films? No.
In those aspects, that is why I believe Rogue One is the best Star Wars film in the series. Not only is it an incredible film as a stand-alone, but it also makes all the other Star Wars films better. Rogue One puts A New Hope in an entirely new light. Rogue One somehow made Darth Vader even cooler than he already was. Rogue One did the best in showing what war was really like in Star Wars.
Rogue One is the best Star Wars movie in the series.
Star Wars stands alone in sci-fi and film. The series is a cultural phenomenon that will still be around far into the future. Star Wars is special for so many reasons, all of which make it one of the best universes anyone can experience.