From Ugnaughts to Ewoks: Ranking the Star Wars Movies

Two new Star Wars movies have been released so far since Disney acquired Lucasfilm back in 2012 for over 4 billion dollars.

Before the sale, most fans thought the saga was complete. Now, there is no end in sight. With that in mind, I thought it might be interesting as a pulse check to rank the Star Wars movies as they stand today from best to worst.

#01 Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
#02 Star Wars (1977)
#03 Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015)
#04 Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983)
#05 Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005)
#06 Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002)
#07 Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999)
#08 Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Animated-2008)
#09 Rogue One (2016)
#10 Ewoks: The Battle for Endor (TV-1985)
#11 The Ewok Adventure (TV-1984)
#12 The Star Wars Holiday Special (TV-1978)

The Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars are nearly a tie for me. While Empire has held my personal top spot for decades, Star Wars has been gaining ground in recent years – particularly when watched without two unnecessary scene additions present in the 1997–2011 edits of the film that only serve to slow the pace.

Set to open on December 15 of this year, I wonder how Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi will shake up this list? Will it be a true contender like The Force Awakens, fall short like Rogue One, or land somewhere in between?

Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) battles Darth Vader (David Prowse) in THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (20th Century Fox, 1980)

Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) battles Darth Vader (David Prowse) in THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (20th Century Fox, 1980)

7 thoughts on “From Ugnaughts to Ewoks: Ranking the Star Wars Movies

  1. I agree it’s sometimes hard to separate the SWANH and ESB films. In the end I always go for the original as it serves as a complete story as well as a builder for the two that followed. I haven’t seen the Ewoks movies or Clone Wars animations. My list would go something like this:

    #01 Star Wars (1977)
    #02 Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
    #03 Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983)
    #04 Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015)
    #05 Rogue One (2016)
    #06 Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999)
    #07 Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005)
    #08 Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002)
    #09 Star Wars: The Holiday Special

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for commenting and providing your list. Though these kinds of ranking debates are well worn topics no doubt dating back to 1980, I always enjoy seeing how fellow fans evaluate the various movies.

      Star Wars is certainly the only movie in the franchise that can truly stand on its own, so I agree that is a strong point in its favor. Being the original is also a strong argument.

      Empire, on the other hand, established that the story did not necessarily have to end there, and that there really was a franchise.

      I suppose I will remain forever torn for the top two. I have the same problem, with the same two titles, when attempting to rank the soundtracks.

      Interesting that you chose to include the holiday special. I discounted it as being a “TV special” rather than a “TV movie,” but I have reconsidered now and edited my list to include it.

      Thanks again!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great idea for a list! While Empire remains my favorite Star Wars film and will probably always be at #1, the others have shifted over time. Here’s my current ranking, based on the ones I’ve seen.

    #01 Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
    #02 Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983) *This is the one that has risen the most on my list over the years.*
    #03 Rogue One (2016)
    #04 Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Animated-2008)
    #05 Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015)
    #06 Star Wars (1977)
    #07 Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005)
    #08 Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999)
    #09 Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Interesting! Thank you for sharing your list.

      What do you feel has made you re-evaluate Return of the Jedi over the years? Have you found new aspects of it to enjoy?

      I first saw Return of the Jedi in the theater as an 8-year-old in 1983, and it immediately became my favorite. It was only when watching the trilogy on VHS in the early 1990s that The Empire Strikes Back and, eventually, Star Wars passed it for me. Though Jedi has a fantastic ending, I liked the overall story structure better in Empire and Star Wars.

      Also, out of curiosity, do you primarily watch the 1997-2011 edits of Star Wars? Or the earlier versions? The only reason I ask is that it really jumps out as unusual to see that movie in the bottom half of your ranking.

      While I was obviously watching the previous versions until 1997, I now tend to watch both iterations – so it is about half and half for me. If a pre-1997 cut ever gets an official High Definition release, though, I would probably just stick with that. I think it is only HD that draws me back to the later edits. This is true for Empire and Jedi as well. (I guess we won’t be able to refer to it as “Jedi” anymore now that the new movie also includes that in the title. But you know the one I mean!)

      Thanks again for commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

      • The power of the film’s final act, with Darth Vader’s final struggle between dark vs. light, has made Return of the Jedi one of my favorite Star Wars films. I thought it was a poignant end to Anakin’s tragic story arc. I actually loved ROTJ more after watching the Clone Wars animated series, since I thought they did a much better job of portraying Anakin’s character than the live action prequels. I think that series made ROTJ’s ending more powerful for me.

        I bought the DVDs of the original trilogy in college, so I got the ones with the revised edits (it was 2009, I think). I wasn’t familiar with the differences between the versions then . I’m hoping to eventually upgrade to Blu-Ray and it would be nice if they had the remastered original versions and the newer versions on separate disks.

        Again, great post!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Return of the Jedi definitely had a great finale. I still get the chills when Luke defiantly says, “I am a Jedi, like my father before me.” By that point, he was the only one who believed there was still good in his father, and he was willing to put his life on the line for that conviction. It turned out that Luke had a lot of his mother in him, for Padmé no doubt would have done the same.

          Dating back to the 2008 movie, I have not been able to get into The Clone Wars. I have tried the series on NetFlix a few times, and I found it just did not hold my attention.

          I did enjoy the Clone Wars micro-series that ran in 2003-2005. Perhaps that is why I have found the subsequent series unappealing. I may try it again someday. Even mediocre Star Wars is better than a lot of other entertainment options. I have yet to watch an episode of Rebels because my impression of it is that it looks like The Clone Wars again.

          Thanks for the fun discussion!

          Liked by 1 person

        • The ending of ROTJ always makes me a little teary-eyed, no matter how many times I’ve seen it. You’re right about Luke’s faith in Anakin’s goodness being reminiscent of his mother.

          Although The Clone Wars hooked me right away, I’ve heard others say that it took a bit later in the show for it to really click for them. The series actually goes to some pretty dark and interesting places later on. I’ve enjoyed Rebels but not *quite* as much as Clone Wars.

          Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.