James Bond 007 Ranked

 

Skyfall

Aren’s Ranking of the James Bond 007 series:

1. Skyfall (2012) dir. Sam Mendes – The definitive statement on the franchise’s legacy and the enduring appeal of James Bond as a mythic hero.

2. Goldfinger (1964) dir. Guy Hamilton – The most perfect encapsulation of the Bond formula, acing every one of the franchise’s signature elements to create the gold standard of blockbuster entertainment.

3. Casino Royale (2006) dir. Martin Campbell – A profoundly moving love story that lets us glimpse the soul of James Bond.

4. From Russia with Love (1963) dir. Terence Young – The closest the franchise ever came to a straightforward spy thriller, with tremendous stunts and a robust narrative.

5. Dr. No (1962) dir. Terence Young – A muscular introduction to cinema’s greatest spy, featuring the most memorable star-making performance of all time by a then-31-year-old Sean Connery.

6. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969) dir. Peter Hunt – A structural and formal oddity that’s rigidly faithful to Ian Fleming’s novel as well as surprisingly complex and touching.

7. GoldenEye (1995) dir. Martin Campbell – In terms of pure action filmmaking, few Bond movies (or movies in general) match the energy and appeal of this film.

8. Licence to Kill (1989) dir. John Glen – A tantalizing glimpse at a harder, angrier Bond film, with an electric Timothy Dalton at the centre.

9. Live and Let Die (1973) dir. Guy Hamilton – The only successful attempt of the Bond films to grapple with racism, while also introducing Roger Moore at the height of his charismatic powers.

10. The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) dir. Lewis Gilbert – Although it lags in terms of pace, the film is Lewis Gilbert’s best attempt at a design-centric, grand-scale action extravaganza.

11. Spectre (2015) dir. Sam Mendes – An overlong but thrillingly operatic melding of the psychological realism of the Craig era with the franchise’s broader formula.

12. Moonraker (1979) dir. Lewis Gilbert – Sublimely silly entertainment whose sincerity and technical accomplishments overshadow any tonal quibbles.

13. The Living Daylights (1987) dir. John Glen – A solid late-period Cold War thriller, with Timothy Dalton lending the series some much-needed psychological depth.

14. You Only Live Twice (1967) dir. Lewis Gilbert – Extravagantly designed and wonderfully entertaining, but also uncomfortably colonialist and occasionally lumbering.

15. Thunderball (1965) dir. Terence Young – The height of the Bond formula’s spectacle and bloat.

16. The World Is Not Enough (1999) dir. Michael Apted – Brosnan really owns the role in this admittedly-convoluted film operating in high-action mode.

17. The Man with the Golden Gun (1974) dir. Guy Hamilton – The narrative is a shambling mess, but Christopher Lee and Roger Moore make the film much greater than the sum of its parts.

18. Quantum of Solace (2008) dir. Marc Forster – Overly imitative of its action contemporaries, but small grace moments, mostly involving Craig’s performance, make it worthwhile.

19. For Your Eyes Only (1981) dir. John Glen – A streamlined Cold War thriller—with the stakes and the performance brought down to Earth—that’s soured by its dreadful open and close.

20. Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) dir. Roger Spottiswoode – A handsome action film, but with no thematic or narrative heft.

21. Octopussy (1983) dir. John Glen – Contains moments that are as bad as any in the entire Bond series, but also a mostly-rousing adventure flick.

22. Diamonds Are Forever (1971) dir. Guy Hamilton – Connery is having fun, but the whole film is a massive miscalculation, with no idea of how to handle James Bond in a new decade.

23. A View to a Kill (1985) dir. John Glen – Essentially a remake of Moonraker without that film’s exuberance, compounded by a too-old-for-this-shit Roger Moore.

24. Die Another Day (2002) dir. Lee Tamahori – A Bond film as nothing more than ugly camp. What were Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson thinking?

 

 

Casino Royale 2

Anton’s Ranking of the James Bond 007 series:

1. Casino Royale (2006) dir. Martin Campbell – The origin story of 007, Casino Royale is an illuminating study of the character of James Bond, an exciting action picture, a riveting spy thriller, and, yes, an affecting drama.

2. From Russia with Love (1963) dir. Terence Young – More streamlined in structure and psychologically raw than the other Connery pictures, From Russia with Love is 007 in classical thriller form.

3. Dr. No (1962) dir. Terence Young – Dr. No lacks some of the delights of the Bond formula that were established later on, but it’s lean and muscular and at times even archetypal.

4. Goldfinger (1964) dir. Guy Hamilton – I’ve never had a strong personal affinity for Goldfinger, but it’s undeniably the textbook example of a James Bond 007 film. Very enjoyable and damn sturdy!

5. Skyfall (2012) dir. Sam Mendes – The closest the 007 series gets to a critical apology for Bond. Skyfall not only defends the relevance of Bond within the world of the film, but it also demonstrates the series’ continued vitality after 50 years.

6. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969) dir. Peter Hunt – Rough around the edges, both formally and emotionally. The most nonconformist film in the series.

7. GoldenEye (1995) dir. Martin Campbell – Not only a revitalizing reboot in its own right, but also one of the most all-encompassing and entertaining entries.

8. Licence to Kill (1989) dir. John Glen – It’s not quite the lone wolf in the series that it wants to be, but at its best it’s electrifying.

9. Live and Let Die (1973) dir. Guy Hamilton – Roger Moore at his most energetic and engaging.

10. Thunderball (1965) dir. Terence Young – Although it is a bit over-extended, Thunderball is a solid, entertaining example of formula.

11. The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) dir. Lewis Gilbert – Another solid, entertaining formula picture, but my choice for the most drawn out Bond film. Ambitiously and handsomely staged, but the pace is as slow as the title song.

12. You Only Live Twice (1967) dir. Lewis Gilbert – The first half is a superior thriller; the second half is the first real example of the producers overdoing it.

13. The Living Daylights (1987) dir. John Glen – Underappreciated as a pretty good Bond flick.

14. The World is Not Enough (1999) dir. Michael Apted – Unfairly savaged. Elektra King is actually one of the more developed Bond girls, and the film as a whole, while uneven, is a more interesting attempt at a more serious Bond picture than is usually recognized.

15. Moonraker (1979) dir. Lewis Gilbert – If Casino Royale taps deep into the serious veins running throughout the series, Moonraker is the most extravagant articulation of its essential fantasy and silliness.  

16. Spectre (2015) dir. Sam Mendes – At turns thunderous and intimate. A not-entirely-satisfactory melding of character development, thematic depth, and action formula.

17. Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) dir. Roger Spottiswoode – Just decent.

18. Quantum of Solace (2008) dir. Marc Forster – Frantic editing and a screenplay that peters out diminish this direct sequel to Casino Royale.

19. Diamonds Are Forever (1971) dir. Guy Hamilton – The most trashy Bond film, but it’s still fun.

20. For Your Eyes Only (1981) dir. John Glen – Refreshingly subdued, for Moore that is, but the pre-credits and final sequences are just awful.

21. The Man With the Golden Gun (1974) dir. Guy Hamilton – Undeniably messy, but with a memorable villain.

22. Octopussy (1983) dir. John Glen – Bond as clown.

23. A View to a Kill (1985) dir. John Glen – Not so much poorly made as devoid of energy.

24. Die Another Day (2002) dir. Lee Tamahori – The only 007 movie I consider an outright bad movie. There’s little to recommend. It’s both poorly conceived and inadequately executed. The Batman & Robin of the franchise.

 

From Russia with Love 2

Anders’ Ranking of the James Bond 007 series:

1. From Russia With Love (1963) dir. Terrence Young – The best Bond film, in my estimation, is anchored by Hitchcock-worthy spy thrills and the best villain in Robert Shaw’s Red Grant, earning its place among the best thrillers of the era.

2. Goldfinger (1964) dir. Guy Hamilton – It sets the bar most of the others try to reach though it could never be made outside of the mid-sixties, standing as a testament to the series’ influence.

3. Casino Royale (2006) dir. Martin Campbell – The most moving Bond film rebooted the series and found the dark emotional core of the character. Eva Green’s Vesper Lynd would get my vote as the best Bond girl.

4. Skyfall (2012) dir. Sam Mendes – Skyfall manages to be everything one could want from a slickly produced action film: it’s a stylish, gorgeous, and endlessly entertaining film that honours the series’ traditions while looking forward.

5. Dr. No (1962) dir. Terrence Young – The very first Bond film brings Fleming’s character to the screen so assuredly that it remains among the best in the series to this day, even if it was still exploring the formula.

6. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969) dir. Peter Hunt – The underrated George Lazenby gives his lone performance as Bond in this close adaptation of one of the key Bond novels, which offers thrills and an emotional arc for the character.

7. GoldenEye (1995) dir. Martin Campbell – Brought the franchise through the end of the Cold War, moved it into 90s blockbuster mode, and features a great turn from Sean Bean as Alec Trevelyan.

8. Thunderball (1965) dir. Terence Young – Some say it drags too much to be great, but it’s jaunty and entertaining while setting the template for much of the series to follow.

9. Live and Let Die (1973) dir. Guy Hamilton – Roger Moore’s best entry is fascinating for its racial angle, not in spite of it, and features Paul McCartney & Wings’ iconic theme song and George Martin’s score!

10. Licence to Kill (1989) dir. John Glen – Dalton’s twin entries would probably rank higher with better scripts, but Licence to Kill is Bond in 80s action-revenge mode, which is damn entertaining.

11. The Living Daylights (1987) dir. John Glen – Dalton gives a great performance and the film manages to be both more dangerous and more classic than the films immediately preceding it. Very entertaining.

12. Spectre (2015) dir. Sam Mendes – With thrilling action and the return of a bit of high concept glamour to the series, Spectre keeps Daniel Craig’s tenure among the series best.

13. You Only Live Twice (1967) dir. Lewis Gilbert – While it descends into silliness (and cringe-worthy Orientalism) at moments, it’s still a very fun film and Connery’s last quality outing in the role.

14. The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) dir. Lewis Gilbert – As a big thrilling spectacle, it’s fun; but Stromberg is a second-rate Blofeld and the film is too glib and slack to be really great.

15. Quantum of Solace (2008) dir. Marc Forster – Craig’s Bond is a formidable force here, but the filmmaking is too slapdash with the shaky-cam and it shows that the script was nearly fatally hurt by the writer’s strike.

16. The World is Not Enough (1999) dir. Michael Apted – Brosnan’s second best entry has some very interesting stuff and a pair of solid villains, but also has to contend with some very lame material at times, which keeps it from being very good.

17. For Your Eyes Only (1981) dir. John Glen – A solid, mid-level entry in the series, especially marred by a misguided opening that makes mockery of some of the series most cherished elements.

18. Moonraker (1979) dir. Lewis Gilbert – Neither as awful as its detractors make it out to be, but also a fairly silly flight of fancy. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it was outlandish enough for the series to require a retooling a couple of years later.

19. Octopussy (1983) dir. John Glen – Again, some great Bond moments marred by elements that kill any tension or cool; more forgettable than should be possible for a film with that title.

20. Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) dir. Roger Spottiswoode – A bland entry that epitomizes mid-nineties non-style. It manages to waste one of the series more interesting Bond girls in Michelle Yeoh and a good idea for a villain.

21. The Man With the Golden Gun (1974) dir. Guy Hamilton – In the pro column, it has Christopher Lee giving a great turn as Scaramanga: in the con, it has that damn slide-whistle!

22. A View to a Kill (1985) dir. John Glen – One of the series weakest films. Roger Moore overstayed in the role and it has some terribly edited action scenes. Christopher Walken and Grace Jones inject enough interest to keep it from last place.

23. Die Another Day (2002) dir. Lee Tamahori – It’s cheesiness might have worked if this film hadn’t been so double-minded in tone (torture! puns!) and so poorly-executed in technical elements. Instead it feels like a fiasco. Still it triggered the fail-safe reboot that gave us the Craig films.

24. Diamonds Are Forever (1971) dir. Guy Hamilton – Boring and cringe-worthy, poor Connery was let down upon his return to the role. I give the film extra demerits for making my favourite actor look bad in his most iconic role and for being a lackluster follow up to OHMSS. But, the question is, how can my least favourite Bond film have the best theme song?

What do you readers think? Notice any patterns amongst us, any extreme divergences? More importantly, how would you rank the Bond canon? Let us know your ranking in the comments below.

About Anton

An admirer of classical cinema, Anton is generally traditional, but he also enjoys poetic filmmaking, new cinematic techniques and technology, and narrative experimentation. He greatly values the visual aspect of a motion picture, as well as the storytelling and editing. Fascinated by archetypes, he is also interested in the construction of genre. Though he likes science fiction, fantasy, and epics, he is an omnivorous film watcher. He hails from the Prairies but currently resides in Toronto, Ontario. Some of his favourite movies are: 2001: A Space Odyssey, Citizen Kane, The Godfather, Lawrence of Arabia, Rear Window, Schindler's List, Star Wars: Episode IV-A New Hope. His favourite directors include: Hitchcock, Lucas, Kubrick, Kurosawa, Nolan, Spielberg, and Welles.