The James Bond Movies Ranked

6. Skyfall (2012)

The three current (soon to be four) most modern James Bond films have, in all contexts, been some of the best years of 007. When we look back at Daniel Craig’s work in the role, he will rank at or near the top of the list not only because of his own acting quality, but of the gorgeous films that were built around him. Sam Mendes’ Skyfall is like a beautiful tapestry that eventually gets filled with bullet holes. But in those quiet moments, before the action ignites, it’s simply stunning. Cinematographer Roger Deakins has been nominated 12 times for an Oscar. This should have been his first win, but he lost to Claudio Miranda’s work on Life of Pi. That’s a damn shame, as Deakins’ heart and soul is in the look of this movie. That is not even to mention the wicked villain (Javier Bardem) and the balls-to-the-wall action sequences that drive this movie like a bullet train. The other two Craig-led films may have slid higher on this list (spoiler alert, if you didn’t skip ahead), but none of them ‐ and none of the others ‐ ooze visually poetic, artful beauty quite like Skyfall. (Neil Miller)

5. The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)

What was it with Roger Moore and skiing? Nevermind the question. That’s perhaps another article entirely. There’s nothing wrong with Roger Moore skiing in this film, because this film is one of those nearly perfect Bond films. It had a fantastic pair of villains (Curd Jurgens as Stromberg and Richard Kiel as Jaws) that wanted to destroy the world and form a new civilization under the sea. It had a quintessential Bond girl in Barbara Bach, whose Anya Amasova was tough, sexy, smart and always dangerous. It has some of the coolest gadgets, including Lotus Esprit that goes underwater. And it has one of the best scores, delivered by the incomparable Marvin Hamlisch. Everything that is right and good about James Bond movies exists within The Spy Who Loved Me. Some would call that sticking to the formula setup by the 9 movies that preceded it. I call it a full-force realization of what’s great about the franchise. (Neil Miller)

4. Quantum of Solace (2008)

James Bond: Quantum of Solace

I know what you’re thinking… “Quantum of Solace at #4? These FSR guys are idiots.” Maybe so imaginary reader, maybe so, but that doesn’t change this movie from being a fantastically effective and affecting entry in the Bond canon. Quantum is best-viewed as a thrilling coda to Casino Royale ‐ it may not be necessary, but it syncs beautifully with that film’s story arc and emotional journey, and it offers a smaller, original narrative with the Camille character before tying the two together. Complaints about the action are nonsensical gibberish as every action beat here ‐ yes, including the opening car chase ‐ is exciting and geographically sound. Camille is a supremely capable female, a concept the series has only really touched on once before (in Tomorrow Never Dies), and she’s something of a prototype Imperator Furiosa who earns our respect through her ability and drive. Do yourself a favor, and if you can go in with an open mind rewatch Casino and Quantum in one sitting for the full effect. Or don’t. It’ll still be here at #4 on our list. (Rob Hunter)

3. From Russia with Love (1963)

James Bond: From Russia with Love

Across the history of the Bond franchise ‐ at least until the last few movies starring Daniel Craig ‐ there haven’t been any one-two punches quite like Dr. No and From Russia with Love. Both Sean Connery and director Terence Young entered their second Bond adventure with great confidence, creating one of the best slow-burns of the franchise as 007 unwinds a tale of revenge involving SPECTRE’s response to his dispatching of the first film’s villain. Like Dr. No, this one introduced a number of long-lasting Bond elements: the pre-titles action sequence and the franchise’s obsession with high-speed vehicles without four wheels (speedboats and helicopters). It also features an ferocious fight inside a train, another form of transportation that has ultimately been a favorite battleground of 007. Even though it’s got a slow, simmering dramatic energy to it, From Russia with Love moves incredibly well thanks to its many modi transportation. Connery is also in top form, further cementing Bond’s signature style. (Neil Miller)

2. Dr. No (1962)

James Bond: Dr No

Sometimes there’s no one more memorable than for your first. And while Dr. No isn’t going to top our list, there is so much that every other film in the franchise owes to Sean Connery’s opening salvo. Dr. No established much of what would become essential to the franchise. The way 007 introduces himself (“Bond… James Bond.”) to the beautiful women who inhabit his journeys (sexual awakenings were created by Ursula Andress’ emergence from the sea in that white bikini) to the over-the-top villainry (and their fancy evil lairs). It’s all there in Dr. No. And while a number of these iconic elements have been refined, rebooted and revisited to greater effect over the years, there’s no substitute for what was a very innovative, pitch-perfect introduction to Ian Fleming’s enduring creation. (Neil Miller)

1. Casino Royale (2006)

James Bond: Casino Royale

It probably shouldn’t have come as a surprise that Martin Campbell, the director who previously rejuvenated the Bond franchise with Goldeneye, could repeat the feat eleven years later, but no one expected a success this complete. The first film of Daniel Craig’s tenure is a masterclass in action, wit, emotion, and style, all while balancing an appreciation for the old and in invigoration of the new. It’s the rare origin story that works effortlessly in shaping a character through experiences rather than exposition ‐ we watch Bond grow from blunt object to finely-tuned weapon. Action scenes big and small, Bond’s dark sense of humor, and Eva Green’s best performance all mix together beautifully, and while Rene Mathis’ running commentary during the poker games keeps the film at arm’s length from perfection it remains the best Bond film. (Rob Hunter)

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