Ranking the Star Wars movies: No. 1


Sam Dunham


The holiday season is upon us and that means only one thing. No, not presents or sledding or chestnuts roasting on an open fire. Star Wars returns to the big screen yet again, and promises to be bigger and better than ever.

But before we look to see what Disney puts under our tree this year, it is only appropriate that we reflect on the Star Wars of Christmas (and Summers) Past. This science-fiction franchise has been a centerpiece of Hollywood since the 70s, and to this day is perhaps the most quotable and recognizable brand in all of America. Whether it’s the iconic lines, beloved protagonists, or infamous villains, everyone remembers Star Wars for something. Through its ups and downs, this timeless story has been just that: timeless. So without further ado, here is every Star Wars film ranked from worst to best.

Note: Not included in these rankings are the two animated films “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” and “Star Wars: Clone Wars” (yes, there’s a difference) since they are not a part of the complete saga. Also excluded is the 1978 “Star Wars Holiday Special”, a movie so horrendous that it should never be associated with any Star Wars list.

1) “The Empire Strikes Back”

No explanation needed.

However, for the sake of this article, a little explanation is necessary.

There are a few movies where everything just goes right throughout the whole two hours. There are no major flaws; in fact there are almost no minor flaws either. The plot is streamlined and simple yet incredibly well-done and interesting.  It goes without saying that the visual effects still hold up after all these years. Darth Vader becomes a truly magnificent villain in this film. After playing mostly just a menacing yet absent role in A New Hope, he truly asserts his dominance. The performances of all involved are amazing, and the darker tone this sequel took was both refreshing and a great decision by Lucas. And of course, Yoda is simply awesome.

You could go on and on about the endless amazing features of this movie. But the Oscar nominations, the Top-10 IMDB ranking, or the incredible twist-ending (I’d say spoiler alert but let’s be honest, we all know the line) of “No, I am your father!” all point to the same, unmistakable thing about “Empire Strikes Back”. From beginning to end, the amount of passion, inspiration, and innovation is palpable no matter where you look. Director Irvin Kirshner and creator George Lucas displayed their true talent for film-making as well as their love for the property and determination to see done to perfection. A true masterpiece of cinema, “Empire Strikes Back” is an absolute force of film-making that changed the landscape of science-fiction and movies themselves forever.

To read Dunham’s previous rankings:

No. 2:  “A New Hope”

No. 3:  “Return of the Jedi”

No. 4:  “The Force Awakens”

No. 5:  “Revenge of the Sith”

No. 6:  “Attack of the Clones”

No. 7:  “The Phantom Menace”