What is the best Star Wars movie ever? From the original trilogy to the prequels and then the sequels, there are certainly plenty of films to choose from. But which entry in the sci-fi saga provides the greatest story in that galaxy far, far away? Here are the best and worst Star Wars movies ever, ranked.
What is the best Star Wars movie?
According to critics and viewers alike, the best Star Wars movie is 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back.
A darker follow-up to the hopeful optimism of A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back defied expectations and delivered one of the best sequels of all time.
What is the worst Star Wars movie?
The worst Star Wars movie is 1978’s Holiday Special.
The franchise’s first spin-off movie, the Holiday Special is infamous for its bizarre singalongs, awful story, and for weirdly being our introduction to Boba Fett.
All Star Wars movies ranked from worst to best
Here are all of the Star Wars movies released in theaters or in a TV special
15. The Star Wars Holiday Special (1978)
It is impossible for a Star Wars movie to be worse than The Star Wars Holiday Special, a ’70s fever dream that couldn’t even entertain the franchise’s most die-hard fans. Its awfulness is now legendary; Carrie Fisher reportedly played it at the end of parties when she wanted her guests to leave.
14. Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure
Ewoks were made to sell toys, but boy could they not sell films. Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure and its sequel were given limited theatrical runs that faced a tepid response, and they’re now mostly forgotten pieces of Star Wars history. Caravan of Courage is a simple kids’ film with poor acting and a meandering story.
13. Ewoks: The Battle for Endor
Palpatine returned Caravan of Courage received a sequel. Ewoks: The Battle for Endor took place six months after the events of the first film, and this time saw the Ewoks protecting their village from marauders. Despite its more exciting title, this was not an exciting film.
12. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)
The Rise of Skywalker made it clear that there was really no concrete plan for the sequel trilogy. An exhausting fetch quest stuffed with overstimulating nonsense, every possible story thread established by The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi is either abandoned or concluded unsatisfyingly. Say what you like about its predecessor, but at least The Last Jedi had confidence in its vision; The Rise of Skywalker wasn’t even confident enough to give C-3PO memory loss.
11. Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008)
Star Wars movies are rarely forgettable, but that’s exactly what we got with 2008’s The Clone Wars. It’s incredible that this mundane movie spawned one of the most beloved animated series of all time, with George Lucas himself calling it an “afterthought.” Taking place between a few episodes of the series’ first season, this is a bizarrely uneventful introduction to The Clone Wars series.
10. Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002)
Attack of the Clones exemplifies the worst elements of the prequel trilogy; awful dialogue, cringe-inducing romance, and highly questionable decision-making from its characters. There’s an alternate universe where Anakin and Padme is a love story for the ages, but here we have Anakin wooing the Naboo senator by bemoaning sand and killing Tusken kids. Count Dooku is an excellent addition, but the grey area of the conflict between the Jedi and the Sith that he represents is poorly illustrated.
9. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)
Rogue One has become a favorite for many Star Wars fans, but the best thing about it is that it eventually led to Andor. The spin-off pieces together a bit of Star Wars history that didn’t really need explaining, which would be fine if not for the forgettable clan of characters who take us on that journey. There are some excellent moments here — seeing Darth Vader in all his terrifying glory, the climactic battle on Scarif — but its darker and grittier approach wasn’t a lot of fun to watch.
8. Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)
Solo: A Star Wars Story got a bad rap at the time of its release, underperforming at the box office. We predict history will be kinder to this spin-off, which felt far more in line with the original trilogy’s pulpy adventures than it did the prequels or sequels. Alden Ehrenreich’s take on Han Solo was much more impactful than a mere tribute act, but the film suffered from filling in a backstory that was best kept mysterious.
7. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)
George Lucas infamously said of the prequels’ parallels to the original trilogy: “It’s like poetry — it rhymes.” Lucas may not have had anything to do with Force Awakens, but that ethos was clearly in director J.J. Abrams’ mind when he revisited A New Hope’s story for the first entry in the sequel trilogy. Yes, The Force Awakens borrowed heavily from ANH, and it can certainly be viewed as a very derivative work. But back in 2015, it was difficult to care when it was also such good fun.
6. Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)
Arguably the most controversial Star Wars movie ever made, director Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi subverted expectations and generated a whole heap of heated discussion in the process.
Few acknowledge that The Last Jedi is actually based on George Lucas’ own idea for a Star Wars sequel, with him wanting to portray an older and broken Luke Skywalker helping train a new Jedi, Kira. Johnson took this idea and ran with it, presenting an imperfect Luke struggling with his demons and contemplating both his and the Jedi’s role in the galaxy. It has its flaws, but The Last Jedi is one of the boldest entries in the entire series and opened the floor to a future for Star Wars beyond the Skywalker name. Unfortunately, The Rise of Skywalker did not agree with that future.
5. Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
The final chapter in Anakin Skywalker’s story before he becomes more machine than man, Revenge of the Sith is widely regarded as the best in the prequel trilogy. Some things prevent this from being the case — the rushed transition from Anakin to Darth Vader, the abrupt execution of Order 66, Padme’s entire arc — but there’s a lot to love here. The action is better than ever, John Williams’ score soars, and Ian McDiarmid puts on arguably the franchise’s best-ever performance as Palpatine.
4. Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983)
Return of the Jedi is a hopeful, pleasing conclusion to one of the best trilogies in film history. Back in the ’80s, this was the end of Luke’s story — him finally realizing his potential as a Jedi, taking down the Empire, and celebrating with those fuzzy little Ewoks on Endor. Now we recognize Return of the Jedi as Anakin’s redemption arc, fulfilling his prophecy as “the chosen one” by seeing the Light through the Dark Side. Either way, it’s a satisfying finale.
3. Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999)
The Phantom Menace would not get made today. A follow-up 15 years in the making, George Lucas decided to focus intently on the politics of his galaxy far, far away rather than giving audiences a crowd-pleasing follow-up to Luke Skywalker’s story. TPM is one of the most fascinating films in the entire Star Wars saga, showing a Jedi Council that is ostensibly a force for good, yet has been rendered so complacent and mired in bureaucracy that they don’t notice they’re sleepwalking into fascism. Yes, Jar-Jay is annoying and the dialogue is iffy, but this made Star Wars so much more compelling than a simple story of good vs. evil.
2. Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)
Here’s where it all began. A New Hope set a standard for blockbuster movies that, nearly 50 years later, has rarely been topped. George Lucas introduced us to a galaxy that is now part and parcel of popular culture, but back then felt like magic — every scene is bursting with ideas and creative energy, from sci-fi samurai duking it out with laser swords to an alien bar scene soundtracked by futuristic jazz music. A true classic.
1. Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
The best Star Wars movie ever is undoubtedly The Empire Strikes Back, a perfect sequel that wasn’t afraid to take risks. From the thrilling opening in Hoth through to its shocking conclusion, Lucas and director Irvin Kershner provided a middle chapter that had fans desperate to see how this story played out. Few films boast as many unforgettable scenes as Empire Strikes Back, and for a series not exactly well-known for its dialogue, the chemistry shared by Hamill, Ford, and Fisher leads to some of the most iconic lines in movie history.
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