May the 4th, Rank the 4th

The 'Star Wars' movie rankings in 2024
May the 4th, Rank the 4th

As we get farther and farther away from the last of the Star Wars movies (December will mark five years since The Rise of Skywalker), it feels like the perspective of how good (or bad) they are is coming more into focus. So naturally, we must rank the movies, as David French did. I think he's close. Here's how I would rank them:

  1. The Empire Strikes Back
  2. Rogue One
  3. A New Hope
  4. The Force Awakens
  5. Return of the Jedi
  6. The Last Jedi
  7. Solo
  8. The Rise of Skywalker
  9. Revenge of the Sith
  10. Attack of the Clones
  11. The Phantom Menace

Or, if you prefer without the tangential films, here's the Roman Numeral order:


I like how it's nearly a perfect ascending and descending ramp in form (and you could certainly make a case to switch VI and VII, which would make it so).1

In the main list, I honestly wasn't sure where to put Solo. I haven't seen it in years but I recall it being decidedly 'meh'. Not awful, but just not necessary. The most interesting element was Qi'ra and yes, Darth Maul. So I left it right where French put it, which is just ahead of Rise of Skywalker and all the prequels.

While those prequels have been getting more nostalgic love in recent years, they remain pretty awful. Certainly in dialogue, but more so the absolute murdering of your senses (in both sense) with way too much CGI. Ewan McGregor remains great (though Obi-Wan Kenobi, the series, nearly broke him) and while they've been trying to rehabilitate Hayden Christensen with Obi-Wan and especially Ahsoka, he'll never be able to outlive some of those George Lucas lines.

There's seemingly been a sort of resurgence of respect for Revenge of the Sith, the third and final prequel. It is the best of the them, no doubt, but it's still worse than any of the other films. Yes, that includes the whiplash-inducing Rise of Skywalker.2 Which was such a mess because of the strange battle between two filmmakers, J.J. Abrams and Rian Johnson. They clearly – clearly – should not have had Abrams come back to close out the trilogy he started. I know he was sort of forced into it, but my god, there has never been a retconning like we got in episodes VIII and IX.

It's frustrating to think what could have been...

Rogue One was great when it landed (despite quite a bit of turbulence in the making of it) and has only gotten better with age. It remains a good lesson, which no one has yet to duplicate in cinema (though Andor has on the small screen): just make a good movie that happens to be set in the Star Wars universe.

Help us, James Mangold. You're our only hope.

1 This order also would best showcase that while the prequels got better over time, the sequels got worse. Meanwhile, the original trilogy was the most balanced, with the second film being the best.

2 Though you almost have to put Rise of Skywalker into the bottom three for one of the laziest plot crutches in cinematic history: "Somehow, Palpatine returned."