Yes, the definitive list of James Bond movies, ranked, is now available to you. Have you ever wondered which Bond film to watch if it’s on TV or which to purchase on Blu Ray? Well here is the definitive listing, ranking the films from worst to first. Feel free to frame this article and give it as a gift to those you love.
The films are listed by title, year of release, which actor portrayed James Bond, and a brief summary of the film.
As a caveat, I did not include Casino Royale (1967) or Never Say Never Again (1983), because those two films are not recognized in the canon. I enjoyed Never Say Never Again, but it was really just a reboot of Thunderball.
24. Die Another Day, 2002, Pierce Brosnan
This movie is the biggest piece of garbage in the entire catalog of Bond films. The acting is forgettable, the CGI is overwhelmingly omnipresent and awful, and the plot is just downright ridiculous. However the main reason this ranks dead last is the inclusion of perhaps the stupidest sequence in all of Bond film history - tsunami surfing. This film sucks out loud.
23. The World Is Not Enough, 1999, Pierce Brosnan
While not as horrible as Die Another Day, this Bond film is mind-numbingly idiotic. Robert Carlyle is utterly wasted as the villain. When I heard he was the antagonist, I imagined Begbie from Trainspotting. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case. Sadly, his villain is not the worst part of this film. That honor goes to Denise Richards, who as Dr. Christmas Jones (that’s so bad), is as vapid a personality as one can find in the history of cinema. Avoid this film unless you like to waste your time on the cinematic equivalent of premature ejaculation.
22. A View to a Kill, 1985, Roger Moore
We bid a fond farewell to Roger Moore in this film. His Bond was certainly the oldest, as Moore was 57 when the film was released, and his Bond was definitely showing his age. The film also lacked any real style or substance, instead devolving into the trappings of found in other 80s action films. That’s the whole point - Bond films are supposed to be escapism, not cookie-cutter Schwarzenegger explode-o-ramas. The film also wasted Christopher Walken in the role of Zorin.
21. Moonraker, 1979, Roger Moore
Hey! Star Wars did great! Close Encounters of the Third Kind did great! Let’s put James Bond in space! This movie is bad. The campiness of it just absolutely kills me. And hey, why not put Richard fucking Kiel’s Jaws in this movie too? Wait, let’s make him fall in love and switch allegiances. Oh by the way, the leading lady’s name is Goodhead. Moonraker sucks.
20. Tomorrow Never Dies, 1997, Pierce Brosnan
I can’t stand Jonathan Pryce. I can’t stand Rupert Murdoch. When you have Jonathan Pryce portraying a Rupert Murdock-type villain, it leads me down the path to the dark side. “Oooh, let’s be relevant and take on the idea that the media is omnipresent and therefore destroying our world.” Bond is best when he’s not socially conscious.
19. Quantum of Solace, 2008, Daniel Craig
While I still defend this movie, I can’t rank it higher than this. I like the idea of the film. I thought the villain (Dominic Greene, as portrayed by Mathieu Amalric) was fairly high concept. However I’m drawn to my previous assertion that Bond is best when he’s not socially conscious. Everyone likes gritty, but this installment was way too gritty. The excitement that Craig brought to Casino Royale had lost its luster by the time Quantum of Solace was released.
18. Octopussy, 1983, Roger Moore
The only reason this movie ranks this high is because Louis Jourdan says the name “Octopussy” in such a cool, French accent. I hate clowns, and Roger Moore dresses Bond in disguise as a clown. That’s just bad.
17. Spectre, 2015, Daniel Craig
The movie started out strong! The bomb-stopping plot, followed by the chase and fight, followed by the helicopter fight sequence was awesome! And then Bond finds the octopus ring which we know means SPECTRE! Unfortunately, the movie starts to bog down and drag out. I like Ralph Fiennes as the new M, I like Ben Whishaw as Q, I like Naomie Harris as Moneypenny, and I even liked Christoph Waltz as “Oberhauser,” but we really know who he is. Sadly, the movie goes in the direction that Quantum did, and it becomes bloated and slow.
16. You Only Live Twice, 1967, Sean Connery
As much as it pains me to put a Connery film outside of the top 15, this movie kind of deserves it. Holy Jesus, Bond disguises himself as a Japanese man. This does not turn out well. The movie is gorgeous to look at, the plot (Blofeld steals rockets from the East and the West, hoping to prompt aggressions to start World War Three) is fairly high concept, and the acting is sufficient to the time. I just can’t get over James Bond going the way of Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
15. For Your Eyes Only, 1981, Roger Moore
After the dumpster fire that was Moonraker, the powers that be decided that a back to basics approach to Bond was in order. They were absolutely right. This movie has some criticisms for being too “serious,” however I think it’s because Moore’s Bond was very much dependant on the sight gag gadgetry provided him by Q. By ‘81, Bond would need a little seriousness.
14. Live and Let Die, 1973, Roger Moore
There are really only two reasons I rank this film as highly as I have. Number one - Roger Moore slipped into the role fairly smoothly. Number two - for some reason, Yaphet Kotto makes every film better. His villain, Dr. Kananga, sort of mirrors Idi Amin, albeit in the Caribbean.
13. License to Kill, 1989, Timothy Dalton
This was the second Bond film to star Dalton. His Bond films never get the credit they deserve. He was exactly the right actor to take up the mantle from Moore. Sadly, he only got to play Bond twice, but I feel both films were successes. I loved this one: Bond resigned his MI6 commission and went dark in order to seek revenge on those responsible for critically wounding his old CIA ally Felix Leiter. Plus, Robert Davi is the villain! Robert Davi! The man was born to play villains. Keep an eye out for a very young Benicio Del Toro as well.
12. Diamonds are Forever, 1971, Sean Connery
Sean Connery returned to play Bond after 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, where Bond was portrayed by George Lazenby. This was Connery’s final Bond portrayal, and he played the character as world weary and detached. The film, however, lacked some gravitas. It was kind of kitchy, with sausage boy Jimmy Dean, Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd, and our hero driving a moon buggy. A fucking moon buggy. *sigh*
11. GoldenEye, 1995, Pierce Brosnan
GoldenEye was the first James Bond film in six years. People had thought the franchise dead and buried. Brosnan stepped into the role and did a great job with this film. Unfortunately, I think this was his only good Bond film, and he went from zero to campy in about three seconds. This film, however, was a good reintroduction to the world of James Bond. It has a good villain in Sean Bean, a good hench(wo)man in Famke Jannsen, and Tina Turner doing her best Shirley Bassey imitation belting out the film’s theme song. Also, you have to admit the GoldenEye Nintendo 64 game was awesome.
10. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, 1969, George Lazenby
This film is the redheaded stepchild of the Bond franchise. It’s the uncle nobody feels comfortable talking about. The movie gets a bad rap. OHMSS is a good Bond film. Lazenby was good in the role, but he made the mistake of following Connery. There was no way he could ever live up to the reputation of Connery’s Bond, and Lazenby languished in his shadow. The film does have some really great parts though. Telly Savalas as Blofeld is inspired casting, and for the love interest/wife of James Bond, the filmmakers chose Diana Rigg to play Contessa Terese DiVicenzo (Tracy). Maybe it’s just teenage me, but 1969 Diana Rigg was so incredibly sexy that perhaps it colors my impression of the film.
09. The Man with the Golden Gun, 1974, Roger Moore
Another solid villain is found in this installment. Francisco Scaramanga, played by Christopher Lee, is essentially the evil doppelganger of James Bond. He’s a ruthless assassin, and he uses a golden gun with gold bullets. This film has been slagged for its campiness and comedic approach. However I feel Scaramanga, his lair, and the action sequences make up for those drawbacks. Also, HERVE VILLECHAIZE!
08. The Spy Who Loved Me, 1977, Roger Moore
This is the best of the Roger Moore Bond films. It’s Moore’s third turn in the role, and he inhabits it well. The opening sequence was lauded as a fantastic opening, paying homage to the United Kingdom. The plot sounds familiar, with a megalomaniac attempting to pit the super powers against one another, but it works well regardless. Barbara Bach is excellent as KGB Agent XXX, and Karl Stromberg, as played by Curd Jurgens, is a worthy adversary.
07. Thunderball, 1965, Sean Connery
From the Tom Jones theme song, to the final skyhook rescue, 1965’s entertaining Thunderball does a good job following up the massive success of Goldfinger. The plot (ransom demands of an exorbitant amount) is perhaps uninspired, but Connery dominates the screen in his fourth turn as the British superspy. The film also finds SPECTRE at its most prominent. Monetarily speaking, this is the most successful Bond film ever, adjusted for inflation and such, until Skyfall. I always say, watch this film immediately after viewing Goldfinger, and you’ll understand the allure of the Bond film universe. This film was also remade as 1983’s Never Say Never Again, which I did not include on this list because technically it’s not canon.
06. Casino Royale, 2006, Daniel Craig
This movie reinvigorated the franchise after Pierce Brosnan sunk into the land of punchlines. Four years after the release of the utterly forgettable Die Another Day (TSUNAMI SURFING!), Daniel Craig stepped into the role and immediately brought a gravitas and force unseen since the films of Timothy Dalton. Craig’s Bond is brutish, detached, rough-hewn, and efficient in all he does. The film reboots the franchise and we meet James Bond very early on in his double-0 career. He’s still learning the ropes and has a long way to go before he truly understands the subtle nuances of the License to Kill he now possesses. The villain is played by Mads Mikkelsen, and he is as excellent in this as he is in everything else. The film also establishes a story arc which continues through the next three successive Bond films. I have found there are those who believe this is Craig’s best Bond film. While I may disagree, I feel it’s a great way for him to have kicked off his take on the series.
05. The Living Daylights, 1985, Timothy Dalton
This is Dalton’s first Bond film, and he inhabits the role and the Bond universe quite admirably. The action sequences are first rate, the plot is slightly above average, and the pace is quick. I thoroughly enjoyed Dalton as Bond, and this film really sets the stage for what should have been a long run in the role, however the writer’s strike occurred after License to Kill, effectively killing off any momentum that Dalton had. By the time the series relaunched six years later, the public was ready for lightweight Brosnan to take over the role. This is a shame. If Dalton had been able to continue his role in a timely fashion, his may have developed into the second-favorite Bond. As a side note, the film was released at the height of the AIDS scare. It was the first time Bond was seen to be monogamous. The only real drawback to the film is Joe Don Baker, mostly because he’s Joe Don Baker.
04. Skyfall, 2012, Daniel Craig
This is the best of the Craig Bond films. The storyline is strong, the villain is the perfect balance of over-the-top and menace, and the direction by Sam Mendes is unparalleled in the history of the series. The movie offers internal politicking to eliminate the double-0 division, the forced retirement of Judy Dench’s M, the rise of Ralph Fienne’s character Gareth Mallory, and an introduction to Bond’s childhood home. Skyfall also features a theme song by Adele, and she belts it out in the vein of Shirley Bassey. Javier Bardem is excellent as the villain Silva, and Ben Whishaw’s Q is exactly the type of quartermaster that Bond requires. Skyfall delivers the required punch necessary after the lukewarm reception to Quantum of Solace.
03. Dr. No, 1962, Sean Connery
The cinematic debut of James Bond! It has the standard bearer of Bond girls in Ursula Andress, a nefarious nehru-wearing bad guy in Dr. No, and the exotic locale of opposite-England, Jamaica! This film established how the franchise would be seen in the decades to follow. It was formulaic, and that formula was ultimately very successful. The film had some hiccups, some less-than stellar acting from some in the supporting cast, and a lack of any Q-gadgets to name only two. However the movies that followed Dr. No simply built upon the foundation set by it. While it lacks the gun barrel sequence that opens other Bond films, it does introduce our protagonist in a grand way - at the Baccarat table and introducing himself to a lady. In this film, Bond is more of a pure spy or secret agent than in any other installment.
02. From Russia With Love, 1963, Sean Connery
The second film in the Bond series finds our hero again doing battle with SPECTRE, this time in the form of Rosa Klebb and the incredible pre-Jaws-Quint Robert Shaw in the role of Red Grant. The film also introduces the venerable Desmond Llewelyn as Q, and the uber-villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld. I have to admit, it took me multiple viewings to really appreciate From Russia With Love. The film does many things well, and it certainly lends itself to repeated watchings. While not as sexy as other Bond films, it is an excellent installment and worthy of its #2 ranking.
01. Goldfinger, 1964, Sean Connery
Here it is, the gold standard of Bond films, no pun intended. The third movie in the franchise hits its stride with the main villain, his henchman, a pseudo-neutral “love” interest, multiple scantily clad buxom beauties, exotic locales, memorable automobiles, and even a few sarcastic quips from our hero to lighten the mood. Gerte Frobe (what an awesome name - GERTE FROBE!) plays Auric Goldfinger, a bad guy intent on robbing Fort Knox. His henchman is Oddjob, a mute mountain of a man. The love interest is Honor Blackman’s Pussy Galore (PUSSY GALORE!), a woman whom Bond seemingly turns from lesbian to straight. Bond plays golf, and it’s because of him I have occasionally chosen to play with Slazenger golf balls. James Bond also plays with a seemingly neverending conga line of women, further cementing his role as cinema’s leading lothario. Goldfinger is the greatest installment in what can be argued as the greatest series in cinematic history.
I’m not saying this is the definitive ranking of all the Bond films, but it’s the definitive ranking of all the Bond films. Go ahead and rewatch all of them. You will agree that this ranking is spot-on. Since 1962, we have lived vicariously through James Bond. We have traveled to exotic locales, we have fallen in love with various women, we have fought villains, we have escaped certain death with the narrowest of margins, and we have always come out on top.