The best Star Wars movies ranked, from A New Hope to Solo

An image from one of the best Star Wars movies, Rogue One

Trying to pick the best Star Wars movie is like trying to decide the best ice cream flavour... it's all ice cream, so unless you're lactose intolerant, you're happy! We're big fans of the ranked list here at GR though, mainly because it gives us a chance to discuss in detail what we love about each movie while we argue over the order of said list. So, when it comes to ranking every Star Wars movie, we can't get enough! 

What do you think the best Star Wars movie of all time is? It's undoubtedly one of the Original Trilogy films, but which one? And for that matter, what do you think is the worst? One of the prequels, right? Everything in between is a bit trickier, Rogue One (opens in new tab) is very good, but does it deserve to be ranked in the top three Force films of all time? And don't even get me started on The Last Jedi (opens in new tab)... whether you loved or hated the latest Star Wars flick, you probably won't agree with our ranking at all. Then there's Solo (opens in new tab) - where does that fall in your favourite Star Wars films of all time? 

While you think about your perfect ranking, feel free to scroll on down and check out how we ranked every Star Wars movie from worst to best. You'll undoubtedly disagree with some of it, so let us know what your ranking is in the comments section below, and while you're at, why not get your friends together for a movie marathon? Just make sure you start with the best Star Wars movie of all time... whatever that is.

10. Attack of the Clones (2002)

An image from Attack of the Clones

Though it’s not bogged down by trade negotiations or explanations about midichlorians, Attack of the Clones (opens in new tab) is easily the weakest of the prequels. Obi Wan’s investigation into and eventual discovery of the clone army isn’t awful, though the reaction of “oh, hey, neat, free army” is definitely a head-scratcher. The location itself, with its soft-spoken alien administrators is appropriately spacey, and the fight with Jango Fett, which inadvertently leads to the creation of Boba Fett, is also a fun bit of jetpack-infused chaos. But oh, lord, the developing “romance” between Anakin and Padme is genuinely painful to sit through. Hayden Christensen is a charisma vacuum who comes across as more of a creepy, peevish stalker than a charming, enigmatic protector. He provides zero reason for Padme to lend him a pen, let alone get naked with him. And that’s before he reveals his true feelings about sand. Susan Arendt

Read more: The 20 greatest Jedi moments in Star Wars history (opens in new tab) (and yes, that includes the prequels)

9. The Phantom Menace (1999)

The Phantom Menace

If we only focused on the worst bits of The Phantom Menace (opens in new tab) - poor Jake Lloyd's whiny young Anakin, alien designs that vaguely evoke racist caricatures, the entirety of Jar-Jar Binks' existence - we could ostensibly be here all day. So instead, let's highlight what the first prequel gets right, despite just how much people love to hate it. Regardless of your feelings towards the Gungans, Naboo's verdant rainforests, Atlantean underwater cities, and utopian palaces serve as gorgeous backdrops unlike anywhere else in the Star Wars universe. The prolonged podracing scene, while a bit hokey, is a fun advanced-tech take on Ben-Hur's timeless chariot race, the wuh-chur-chur sound of the vehicles' thrumming engines no less distinct than a TIE Fighter's scream. And the grand finale lightsaber duel is just phenomenal. Darth Maul and his double-bladed lightsaber versus Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan is easily one of the greatest fight scenes in the entire series. Lucas Sullivan

Read more: "An often deliriously exciting adventure" - You won't believe what the first Star Wars: The Phantom Menace reviews said (opens in new tab)

8. Revenge of the Sith (2005)

Revenge of the Sith

Revenge of the Sith wins a candy bar for being the least-worst prequel, but not a good one: a Payday, or Three Musketeers. General Grievous is wasted in an entertaining but throwaway fight; Mace Windu just stops, like the end of a used toilet roll; and Anakin’s youngling-killing turn to the dark side is laughable. Even the best bit, where Emperor Palpatine teases Skywalker into apprenticeship with talk of the Dark Side, is marred by Lucas’ weird, pointless edits. Don’t believe me? Just watch Anakin’s hair (opens in new tab). But despite this, Revenge of the Sith is oddly satisfying after two terrible prequels. Ewan McGregor finally gets to grips with Obi-Wan, and we see him at his dashing-yet-weary best. Thinking about that just makes me want that standalone Obi-Wan film (opens in new tab) even more. And the battle between Yoda and a full-evil Darth Sidious is thrilling, if brainless, fun. There’s a gulf between this and the next-best Star Wars movie, but at least it’s better than Attack of the Clones. Matt Elliott

Read more: The original Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith ending had Padme founding the Rebel Alliance and almost killing Anakin (opens in new tab)

7. Solo (2018)

An image from Solo

When Disney announced its second spin-off story would be a standalone Han Solo movie, fans around the globe panicked. Harrison Ford's Solo is such an iconic character that it's hard to imagine anyone else playing the scoundrel, but thankfully Alden Ehrenreich stepped up to the plate and knocked it out of the park. After some behind-the-scene wobbling after original directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller were replaced by Ron Howard, most can agree that Solo (opens in new tab) is a solid Star Wars movie, which respects the universe while delivery something new and exciting. Plus, can we talk about Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian? Oh wow! He was definitely one of the best things about this film, with many calling for a standalone Lando movie once they'd seen his performance. If Solo is so good then, why is it only seventh on our ranked list of the best Star Wars movies ever? Well, let's be honest, it's fun and definitely falls into the 'good not bad' category, but that's mainly because we had pretty low expectations going in. And let's not forget, there's so many more great Star Wars movies to come. Would you put Solo above The Last Jedi (opens in new tab) or any of the original trilogy? Maybe... maybe not. Lauren O'Callaghan

Read more: What does the Solo: A Star Wars Story ending (opens in new tab) mean? And 9 other questions we have

6. The Last Jedi (2017)

An image from The Last Jedi

It might seem a little harsh putting the latest Star Wars film, The Last Jedi, just above the prequels, but like we said, there's a big gap between Revenge of the Sith and this film. The Last Jedi isn't bad. In fact, it's a great Star Wars movie - it's just very divisive (opens in new tab) as we saw when it was first released. Some fans love it, some fans hate it, but I think most of can agree that it's not as good as the original trilogy (or probably The Force Awakens (opens in new tab) and Rogue One). That's why it's only the sixth best Star Wars movie. That said, there's lots to love about this movie no matter how you feel about some of its more questionable decisions. Rey and Kylo Ren's emotional (and slightly sexual, right?!) relationship is one of the best, and most human things, we've ever seen in a Star Wars movie. Even Luke's return - no matter what you thought of the decisions made for his character - is something Star Wars fans only used to dream of! And any time Carrie Fisher is on screen you can't help but feel like you're seeing history in the making as this is her last Star Wars film. The Last Jedi is definitely one of the best Star Wars movies ever - it's just not The Empire Strikes Back (opens in new tab) good. Lauren O'Callaghan

Read more: 15 things we learnt from the Star Wars: The Last Jedi director's commentary (opens in new tab)

5. The Force Awakens (2015)

An image from The Force Awakens

We were all super nervous before The Force Awakens came out. Who could blame us? The last attempt to resurrect the Star Wars film franchise hadn't gone so well, and with Disney taking the reins, fans were worried we'd be returning to a very different galaxy. That's why it was so amazing when we actually got the really good and very faithful The Force Awakens film! In continuing the Star Wars story, Episode 7 re-establishes the visual language and boundaries of the Star Wars universe - this feels like the same place - but dares to break our hearts at the same time. The good guys didn’t win after the Emperor was defeated. Life just kept going in the galaxy, and the glorious new age we all thought Luke and the reborn Republic would usher in never happened. So we’re treated to a story about the scrapper Rey and the rebel Stormtrooper Finn finding new hope at the same time as seeing our old heroes contend with the failures and challenges of aging. We get a deeply human story more concerned with character than lightsaber fights (which in turn makes the lightsaber fight that does happen feel meaningful again). Some might say it's just a remake of A New Hope, but hey, A New Hope is one of the best Star Wars movies! Anthony John Agnello

Read more: Star Wars: The Force Awakens ending (opens in new tab) - 14 questions we need answered

4. A New Hope (1977)

An image from A New Hope

This is where it all began - the very first Star Wars movie. The film that introduced a whole new universe filled with characters, quotes, and scenes that would go on to influence a generation of fans and filmmakers alike. It wasn’t just the effects (which were great for the time) that blew people away, it was the cohesiveness of the world. Whereas a lot of sci-fi tended to feel almost magical, this was a dirty, ‘used’ universe, which somehow felt so real. Sure there were spaceships and robots, but there was something horrible practical and ordinary about it all - and in turn the story felt more grounded, even when it was in hyperspace. Into all this Lucas then weaved what was basically a classic Disney princess story where a lowly villager (Luke) discovers a higher calling and battles the evil space witch (Vader) to save the day. So why is the original Star Wars movies only fourth on our list? Because there's three other films which built upon this original and took things even further. Leon Hurley

Read more: Star Wars: A New Hope could have been a disaster - here’s how it was saved (opens in new tab)

3. Rogue One (2016)

An image from Rogue One

Who would have thought that one of the best Star Wars movies would be a spin-off with no Jedi, barely any lightsaber action, and only a couple of recognisable cameos? Rogue One is a tough sell for Star Wars fans given that it's about as far removed from the Star Wars universe as you can get, while still being a Star Wars movie. Somehow though, that's why it works. Rogue One is the Star Wars movie we need for a new generation, but also for the original Star Wars fans who have grown up and realised that things don't always work out. As much as we love the originals, they can come off as a little cheesy and camp nowadays, and Rogue One is the balm to this. It's basically a gritty war movie about never giving up despite the insurmountable odds, topped off with a major downer ending which you know is coming. It sounds depressing, but everything is actually very well balanced so that each loss actually means something without bringing things down too much. Plus, it leads into A New Hope seamlessly, so while the majority of Rogue One is its own very refreshing film, right at the end you get a couple of spine-tingling moments with Vader and Princess Leia. Chills. Actual, chills! Lauren O’Callaghan

Read more: You know how Star Wars: Rogue One ends… but that might actually make it a better movie (opens in new tab)

2. Return of the Jedi (1983)

An image from Return of the Jedi

Return of the Jedi (opens in new tab) is the rare trilogy closer that actually manages to pick up all the pieces left behind by its predecessors and give them satisfying conclusions. Tons of stuff happens in this movie, and save for a few pacing missteps, it all works and leaves us feeling like we got our fill. This is to say nothing of the actual resolution of the film, the climactic battle above Endor! The way the film jumps between the one-on-one fight between father and son, to the ground war of Stormtroopers vs Ewoks, to the space dogfights led by Ackbar and Lando without you feeling lost is masterful and gives us a taste of each level of conflict in this galaxy far, far away. And remember, this movie was our proper introduction to Emperor Palpatine. Lots of people forget that Return of the Jedi was the first time we had any real time with the villain other than short hologram calls to Vader - yet he clearly made an impression, even before his scheming was made old hat by the prequels. And admit it, you loved the Ewoks and their stupid yub-nub song (opens in new tab). Sam Prell

Read more: What order should you watch the Star Wars movies in? (opens in new tab) It isn't actually that obvious...

1. The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

An image from The Empire Strikes Back

Of course this is the best Star Wars movie. While some would argue the climactic resolution of Return of the Jedi offers more feel good factor, and the sheer wonder of the universe building in A New Hope trumps the rest, The Empire Strikes Back (opens in new tab) is a brilliant example of what makes Star Wars so magical. It certainly starts with the biggest bang - a battle for survival on Hoth, both on a personal level (Luke’s struggle with the Wompa) and a grander scale (snow speeders, AT-ATs, last minute Falcon escapes). In stark contrast to the fairytale feel of the preceding movie, Empire then gets very dark, very quick. There’s torture, genuine betrayal, disturbing visions, and that scene where Luke loses a hand, but gains a father. It’s the grand reveal of the Star Wars universe, a shocking revelation that shifts the perception of all that went before and after it. More than that, this scene - and the whole of Empire - shows Star Wars coming of age, maturing from regular sci-fi into something much more complex and deep. And who can forget some of those incredible scenes? Leia telling Han she loves him as he’s lowered into the Carbonite chamber. "I know". Luke nearly raising the X-Wing from Degobah’s swamp. And the final thrilling rescue of Luke, dangling from an antenna at the bottom of Bespin. Empire isn’t merely a bridging movie between the two ends of the trilogy - it’s the solid spine of the biggest entertainment franchise on the planet, and a superb movie in its own right. Andy Hartup

Read more: Fainting and Lucas going "apeshit" - here's the little-known story behind The Empire Strikes Back (opens in new tab)

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