The internet’s ranking of ‘Star Wars’ movies, from best to worst

Which Star Wars movie is the best?

With Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker headed to theaters in December, our minds are on a galaxy far, far away. More than three long months still remain before Jedi will grace the big screen again. In those months, many fans plan to review the 11 Star Wars movies leading up to Rey, Finn, Kylo and Poe’s undoubtedly climactic conclusion. The argument over the best Star Wars movie has been going for decades, and there is still no end in sight.

A ranking of the Star Wars movies

The Daily Dot is far from the law on Star Wars, so this list isn’t based on our opinions. Instead, it’s based on rankings from Metacritic, IMDb, and Rotten Tomatoes.

The internet has spoken: These are the best Star Wars movies, from best to worst.

1) Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Buy it: Vudu $19.99, FandangoNow $19.99

Empire Strikes Back - AT-AT star wars movies Star Wars/YouTube

Empire Strikes Back is, unquestionably, the most popular Star Wars film to date. Heightened emotions paired with thrilling visuals and a gripping story place this Star Wars installment at the top of most fans’ lists. Since its release, Empire has come to be considered one of the greatest films of all time. It follows Luke Skywalker on his continued journey toward becoming a Jedi Knight as war tears apart the galaxy around him. Romance blossoms, the war intensifies and characters grow and change over the course of this award-winning film.

2) Star Wars: A New Hope (1977)

Buy it: Vudu $19.99, FandangoNow $13.99

A New Hope - Luke Skywalker star wars movies Star Wars/YouTube

The first-ever Star Wars installment is also one of the most popular of the movies. Luke Skywalker’s first step toward becoming the hero of the Rebel Alliance was also a groundbreaking step forward in science fiction. A New Hope quickly became a hit when it was released, inspiring a fandom still strong today. The film follows Luke Skywalker and his companions Obi-Wan Kenobi and Han Solo on their quest to rescue the captured Princess Leia from the clutches of the Empire. It’s everything you want out of an epic tale: thrilling and heartfelt with a talented, passionate cast.

3) Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)

Rent it: Vudu $2.99, FandangoNow $2.99

Buy it: Vudu $14.99

The Force Awakens - Kylo Ren star wars movies Star Wars/YouTube

The first film in the most recent Star Wars trilogy was a hit among fans and critics alike. Gripping action sequences and memorable characters quickly made The Force Awakens a favorite. Its careful insertion of callbacks and nostalgic visuals lend to its popularity, as do the strong cast and engaging emotional arcs. Set 30 years after the original trilogy, The Force Awakens follows Rey, an orphaned scavenger living on the planet Jakku. The fallen Galactic Empire birthed the First Order, an insidious new force aiming to wipe out the New Republic. New characters and old meet on-screen for this thrilling introduction into the sequel trilogy.

4) Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)

Rent it: Amazon Prime $3.99, Vudu $2.99, FandangoNow $2.99

Buy it: Vudu $14.99

Stream it: Netflix

The Last Jedi - Rey star wars movies Star Wars/YouTube

The Last Jedi is a refreshing and intelligent continuation after The Force Awakens with powerful emotional arcs for each main character. It’s controversial due to unexpected creative choices and a quirky sense of humor, but it’s one of the strongest films in the franchise. You won’t look at Luke Skywalker the same way again. —Gavia Baker-Whitelaw

5) Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

Rent it: Vudu $2.99, FandangoNow $2.99

Buy it: Vudu $14.99

Rogue One star wars movies Star Wars/YouTube

As with the rest of the franchise, Rogue One’s production design is stunning. The tropical base on Scarif is like nothing we’ve seen before, and its sprawling battle scene feels tense and immediate. David Crossman’s costume design fits into the Star Wars universe while distinguishing Rogue One’s place in the beaten-down Dark Ages of the war. The lead characters dress in the tough, unwashed garb of guerrilla fighters. Jyn and Cassian look effortlessly badass in their scrubby jackets and layers of grimy shirts. Meanwhile, Baze Malbus and aging extremist Saw Gerrera contribute sci-fi style with their dented body armor and bulky weapons. As ever, the franchise’s visual world-building is second to none. —Gavia Baker-Whitelaw

6) Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith (2005)

Buy it: Vudu $19.99, FandangoNow $19.99

Revenge of the Sith - Anakin Skywalker star wars movies Star Wars/YouTube

It’s far from the most popular Star Wars movie. However, the final prequel film served to conclude Anakin Skywalker’s story and establish the launching point for the original trilogy. Revenge of the Sith is praised for thrilling action sequences and touching emotional arcs, but a general unevenness in storytelling earns it criticism. It remains one of the highest-grossing Star Wars films. Excellent battle scenes and tangible—if occasionally excessive—emotion make the prequel trilogy’s conclusion a fitting addition to the Star Wars family.

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7) Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (1983)

Buy it: Vudu $19.99, FandangoNow $19.99

Return of the Jedi - Boba Fett star wars movies Star Wars/YouTube

The final installment in the original trilogy, Return of the Jedi dove into darker themes than its predecessors. Its cinematic quality, action sequences and improved audio were all considered strong points. Unfortunately, issues with pacing and aspects of the storyline have plagued Return of the Jedi for years. The finale to Luke, Leia and Han’s story is still one of the strongest Star Wars films to date. It’s considered a worthy, entertaining conclusion to the epic trilogy that started it all.

8) Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)

Rent it: Vudu $2.99, FandangoNow $2.99

Buy it: Vudu $14.99

Stream it: Netflix

Solo - Han Solo and Qi'ra star wars movies Star Wars/YouTube

Of all the iconic Star Wars characters, Han Solo is the least viable for a prequel. His evolution begins when he meets Luke Skywalker, making him unavoidably static in his younger years. As a result, Solo feels unnecessary, despite a strong performance from Alden Ehrenreich. Gone are the sweeping mysticism of the Jedi and the creeping tendrils of the Empire’s backstory. Instead, viewers get a competently made blockbuster with nothing at its core. Solo lacks the energy of action-heist movies like The Fast and The Furious franchise, and it fails to become something deeper than an appeal to nostalgia like Rogue One did. Ultimately, Solo offers little new insight into the Star Wars universe. —Gavia Baker-Whitelaw

9) Star Wars: Attack of the Clones (2002)

Buy it: Vudu $19.99, FandangoNow $19.99

Attack of the Clones - Anakin and Padme star wars movies Star Wars/YouTube

It may be the most heavily parodied of all the prequel films, but Attack of the Clones put more emphasis on action than its predecessor. This served it well, as the thrilling fight sequences and breathtaking airborne scenes helped carry a film that hopes to lean on an uninspiring romance. The connection between Anakin Skywalker and Padmé Amidala is lackluster, dragging down a plot that places them at its center. Delightful visuals and the evolution of a new galactic threat help raise this film above its dull romance, but it only partly succeeds.

10) Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (1999)

Buy it: Vudu $19.99, FandangoNow $19.99

Phantom Menace - Anakin Skywalker star wars movies Star Wars/YouTube

The first installment in the prequel trilogy was met with mixed reviews at release. Feeling a bit overpopulated and somewhat lacking the emotional depth of the first three films, The Phantom Menace takes place 32 years before A New Hope. The film follows Jedi Knight Qui-Gon Jinn and his apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi in their quest to protect the Queen of Naboo. An excellent cast and stunning visuals make this film a gorgeous, if not flawlessly executed, entry into the Star Wars universe.

11) Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008)

Clone Wars - Animated Movie star wars movies Star Wars/YouTube

Inarguably the least-liked cinematic release of all the Star Wars films, some fans don’t even consider The Clone Wars as part of the wider Star Wars story. Most of the distaste for the film is placed on its blocky animation and lackluster script. Nestled between Anakin’s rise to prominence and his turn to the dark side, The Clone Wars‘ attempts to give the adult Skywalker more depth of character were mostly unsuccessful. Combine this with overall shoddy storytelling, and The Clone Wars earns its spot as the least-liked Star Wars cinematic release.

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Nahila Bonfiglio

Nahila Bonfiglio

Nahila Bonfiglio reports on geek culture and gaming. Her work has also appeared on KUT's Texas Standard (Austin), KPAC-FM (San Antonio), and the Daily Texan.