May the 4th be with you: a ‘definitive’ ranking of Star Wars films from worst to best

Star Wars. Ranked. For May 4th. Groundbreaking.

Hello there. Today, on this most forceful celebration, I’m going to rank all of the Star Wars films – yes, all of them – from worst to best.

We have all nine ‘Skywalker Saga’ films, or the three trilogies (original, prequel, and sequel), and some spinoffs old and new to get rankin’.

Join me, and we can judge the galaxy, together – as reader and writer! Muahahaha.

12. THE WORST: Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)

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The origin story of Han Solo. So bad I can barely remember most of it, this film stands out as the only screen property to completely waste an appearance from Donald Glover. It’s not his fault – he is doing the most to embody the spirit of Lando Calrissian – but it’s all for naught. Solo is a pointless origin story and a waste of time I could be using to play lightsabers with my niblings.

11. Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure (1884), and Ewoks: The Battle for Endor (1985)

Ok I haven’t actually seen these but everything I’ve read about them tells me they are terrible. And nobody over the age of twelve actually likes ewoks, right?

The eyes. The eyes!! Image: Disney/Lucasfilm

10. The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

I’ll just leave this here.

Somehow…Palpatine returned. Image: Disney/Lucasfilm

This film may as well have been called The Rise of Characters You Thought Were Dead Because We Are Very Much Out Of Ideas.

9. The Phantom Menace (1999)

Perhaps the vitriol lobbed at this entry to the Skywalker Saga is a tad unfair. In the case of attacking innocent actors like Ahmed Best (who played Jar Jar Binks), it’s definitely unfair and totally uncool. And in the case of pod racing, I actually dig it! There should have been more pod racing in the series. But this film has far too many borderline-racial stereotypes (Watto, Boss Nass) to warrant a ranking any higher than this.

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8. Attack of the Clones (2002)

Definitely the most lacklustre of all of the trilogies’ middle points. And I say that as someone who is fully aware of how badass Yoda looks in his major Attack of the Clones fight scene. I’m just not into little wrinkly green dudes flipping about.

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7. The Last Jedi (2017)

I simply do not get the hype for Rian Johnson’s take on Star Wars. He’s a fine director, don’t get me wrong, but I found this middle point of the Sequel Trilogy to be choppy and confusing, laying a bunch of story threads down piecemeal and then never picking them up again (though I definitely think that’s a studio issue, not a director issue). Plus the scrappy editing gave me a headache. Where’s Marcia Lucas when you need her?

Image: Disney/Lucasfilm

6. Revenge of the Sith (2005)

Revenge of the Sith is my favourite of the prequel trilogy. It’s got a kick-arse opening sequence (that still looks incredible decades later), amazing fight sequences that are simultaneously heartbreaking, and a pitch-black conclusion to Anakin Skywalker’s narrative arc. That’s why I’ve decided to give it the high ground.

Image: Disney/Lucasfilm

5. The Force Awakens (2015)

This film briefly but fiercely re-ignited my love for Star Wars, with me thinking at the time that the female lead would inspire more female leads in the sci-fi genre. Well, it didn’t really, and nor did it balance out the overrepresentation of male directors in sci-fi either. Sigh.

Image: Disney/Lucasfilm

4. Return of the Jedi (1983)

Read: Return of the Jedi is the best Star Wars film – come at me

With apologies to ScreenHub’s critic Stephen A. Russell, Return of the Jedi is not the best Star Wars film. But I still rate it pretty highly, for pretty much all the same reasons Stephen listed in his article. Luke facing Emperor Palpatine and having to fight his father, Darth Vader, once more, is a stunning, emotional sequence. But if I wanted to see a bunch of little furry things running around the woods, I’d go to the dog park on sausage sizzle day.

Image: Disney/Lucasfilm

3. A New Hope (1977)

The original and the best? Almost! A New Hope is a ripper – the film that started it all! – but there are two more that I’m going to put higher, because their ideas had more time to develop.

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2. Rogue One (2016)

I rate Rogue One so highly mainly because it spawned the greatest Star Wars television series ever, Andor. Sure, its intent was only to bridge the story gap between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, something we didn’t really need (because audiences are smarter than studios seem to think we are …), but it opened up the world enough to make us care about something other than the bloody Skywalkers.

There were other rebels doing their bit to stop the evil Empire, but until Rogue One we didn’t hear much about them. Now Cassian Andor is a figurehead for rebellion against oppressive regimes, and it’s all thanks to his grit and determination – not magic blood like Luke Skywalker relied on. Ooh!

Image: Disney/Lucasflm

1. THE BEST: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

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Not just the best Star Wars film, but one of the best films of all time, period. The twists! The training montage! Lando Calrissian! The dark, ambiguous ending! Plus, the film looks gorgeous. Empire is by far the most pleasingly aesthetic Star Wars has ever been. I’ll regularly put it on to watch just for the heck of it – far more than I would with any other Star Wars films. It’s just so good, so meticulously crafted that it warrants as many viewings on the big screen as possible.

DOESN’T COUNT: The Star Wars Christmas Special (1978)

You can watch the monstrosity that is The Star Was Christmas Special on YouTube (I won’t link you to it, but I will say it’s quite easy to find), which many speculate Disney hasn’t taken down because a Copyright Infringement Notice would mean having to admit they own it.

So how come the two Ewok movies count and the made-for-TV Christmas Special doesn’t? Well, the answer is very simple my friend. It all started when- wheeeeeeeeee (Editor’s note: Silvi has procured a speeder bike and raced away from their desk at a rapid pace).

Silvi Vann-Wall is a journalist, podcaster, and filmmaker. They joined ScreenHub as Film Content Lead in 2022. Twitter: @SilviReports