Ranking The Best James Bond Films

It’s been 53 years since that iconic James Bond theme first played in theaters and, amazingly, the franchise is still going strong. On Monday, Spectre, the 24th Bond film produced by Eon Productions, debuts in the United Kingdom – it launches on our shores Nov. 6.

In preparation for the latest film, I’ve spent the last three months watching and ranking every single Bond flick from worst to best.

Every catchphrase. Every eye-rolling pun. Every shootout with a weirdo villain. Every gadget from Q and more Aston Martins that I’ll ever view in real life. I’ve seen it all.

By the way, I’ve excluded the two films that weren’t produced by Eon – the original 1967 Casino Royal and 1983’s Never Say Never Again. Trust me, neither are worth mentioning. And, duh, this list contains THE DREADED SPOILERS, but if you’re going complain about plot details of movies that are older than many of your parents, you need counseling, not a movie review list.

Grab a vodka martini and revisit the best and worst of the world of Bond.

moonraker23. Moonraker (1979)

So yeah, let’s get THIS out of the way. In an attempt to leech off of Star Wars’ massive popularity, someone actually thought it was a good idea to throw Roger Moore in space and have him go full Han Solo.


What we got was a dumb scheme to kill everyone on Earth and repopulate it with boring “super geniuses” (villain Hugo Drax is basically Space Hitler), with the worst effects (OH NO a killer snake made of rubber!) and lamest dialogue ever – for instance, Bond just can’t FATHOM that dumb ol’ girls can be scientists. Bond’s a violent, manipulative, sex-crazed jerk but he isn’t THAT stupid. Oh, and remember Jaws, the unstoppable killing machine from “The Spy Who Loved Me?”  Cower in terror as the invincible behemoth is downgraded into freaking Lennie from “Of Mice and Men.” I know some fans love this movie ironically but they need to stop fooling themselves: Moonraker is a live-action Scooby-Doo movie. And a BAD one at that.


die another day22. Die Another Day (2002)

This one suffers from a lot of the trappings of the early ‘00s Bond films – a whole lotta flash and barely any substance. It’s loaded with awful CGI straight out of a cheezy PlayStation 1 fighting game. And speaking of fighting, Pierce Brosnan (an unappreciated Bond in my book) is totally out of gas in this film, save for a frenzied fencing scene that was admittedly cool. The plot is stale too – yet another in a long line of “bad guy hijacks satellite to do bad stuff.” The film’s saving grace is Halle Berry’s Jinx, a character so beloved that she was *thisclose*to getting a spinoff. Jinx was a rose among thorns but still not enough to save this one. You’re better off playing Battle Arena Toshinden than watching this – the CGI is better.


quantum of solace21. Quantum of Solace (2008)

Oh playa, this low ranking will make the hate mail flow like vodka martinis. Eh, somebody’s gotta keep it real. Daniel Craig’s brutish version of Bond is almost universally praised but, sorry ladies, his solemn baby blues and pouty lips can’t save you from the soul-crushing boredom of his second outing. First, the movie is handcuffed by being too closely linked to its vastly superior successor, Casino Royale. Also, in an attempt to rebrand the Bond series as all gritty n’ stuff, it veers too closely to the blueprint established by the Bourne trilogy – too many flash cuts, too many explosions, too much needless running around; it’s overkill. Craig does a decent job but this one lacks the heart and personality of even lower-tier Bond films.


live and let die20. Live and Let Die (1973)

When I started this journey into the Bond mythos, I was warned that this was the worst Bond movie of all time. And while BLAXPLOITATION BOND  is as cringeworthy as you’d expect (Actual quote from the ‘shuckin’ n’ jivin’ black cab driver: “For 20 bucks, I’ll take you to a Ku Klux Klan cookout!”) it’s oddly endearing at times. I mean, Bond spends the movie fighting voodoo priests in the bayou and kills the main villain by literally inflating him like a balloon – it’s so stupid that you can’t help but laugh. Of course, this film also gave us the Jar Jar Binks of the Bond franchise, Sheriff J.W. Pepper – a Southern racist stereotype who simultaneously offends black and white people with every syllable. This one is so bad it’s good mildly tolerable.


the living daylights19. The Living Daylights (1987)

Timothy Dalton is by far the most unlikeable Bond ever cast. In every film he seems downright annoyed that he’s being paid a king’s ransom to portray the coolest man in cinema history.  So sorry for your struggle, my brother. The plot is pretty convoluted – a villainous international conspiracy to basically buy a bunch of drugs – and like most of the 1980s installments, it’s not so much bad as it is overwhelmingly boring. Dalton’s Bond is always too irritable to raise spirits, or interest.


license to kill18. License to Kill (1989)

It’s not Diamonds are Forever. It’s not Live and Let Die. THIS title theme, performed by Gladys Knight, is the best Bond song OF ALL THE TIMES. Even Patti LaBelle’s entirely out-of-place end credits theme is awesome. The film, though, is quite a few steps below awesome. Dalton’s Boring Bond is back in what is essentially an ‘80s revenge flick, and he chases down his friends’ killers. It might be paint-by-numbers but it’s not all that bad. The final showdown in the desert – with planes and flaming tankers and bad guys being burned to death – is as gloriously ‘80s as you can imagine. Also, those theme songs!


octopussy17. Octopussy (1983)

Sigh, yes, it’s the movie with the stupid name where Bond dresses like a clown to diffuse a bomb to avoid an international incident. Playa please. While it’s easily Roger Moore’s worst outing as Bond, it’s actually not that terrible of a film. Any movie that features villains wielding buzz-saw yo-yos can’t be all bad. Ignore Octomom’s dumb octopus cult and you’ve got and pretty solid action film. It’s certainly not as laughable as its reputation may lead you to think. Well, yeah it is. But it’s watchable at least.


tomorrow never dies16. Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)

An evil media mogul trying to rule the planet? Boy, does art imitate life. Anyway, the Brosnan Bond vs Fox News plot is a bit of a snoozer, but it’s elevated with the help of some really cool gadgets (cell-phone controlled car!) and the awesomeness of Bond girl Wai Lin, who cracked more skulls than even Bond did. Now THAT’s a character who deserved a spinoff.


for your eyes only15. For Your Eyes Only (1981)

This film is notable for serving as the final appearance of Bond’s arch enemy (and Dr. Evil inspiration) Ernst Stavro Blofeld, though he wasn’t named here because of a nasty trademark lawsuit. It’s probably why he was killed off in the dumbest of ways in the pre-credits screen – falling down a smokestack like a clumsy Santa. The actual film is pretty pedestrian, with Roger Moore’s Bond trying to get a missile-launching doohickey before those evil 1980s Russians get it first. It was especially nice to see Bond show some restraint when underaged figure-skater Bibi throws her draws at him. Bond might be a chauvinist, sex-crazed murder, but he’s no pedophile. Thank the Lord.


you only live twice14. You Only Live Twice (1967)

This one resides on the lower end of golden era Sean Connery films. Bond goes to Japan and masquerades as an Asian man for no good reason as he investigates a missing spacecraft. Also since we’re in Japan we get NINJAS. Lots and lots of NINJAS. This also marks the first time we lay eyes on SPECTRE’s mastermind Ernst Stavro Blofeld, who went unseen in earlier installments. This film might be the red-headed stepchild of the original Connery films but it’s still entertaining.


a view to kill13. A View to a Kill (1985)

Boy does Roger Moore look OLD in this one, but I digress. No one does evil like Christopher Walken and his villain Max Zorin is one of the best of the series – basically a psycho Steve Jobs who wants to put Silicon Valley underwater so he’ll have the monopoly in the technology industry. Y’all would need a lot of rice to dry out those computers. Anyway, Grace Jones’ Mayday gets a lot of love here, and yeah, she’s easily the best part of the movie. Still, she doesn’t do all that much besides scowling in designer hoodies until she has a change of heart and helps out Grandpa Bond at the end.


Man-with-the-Golden-Gun-poster12. The Man With the Golden Gun (1974)

AKA, the Man With the Third Nipple. This one was just brimming with potential, with assassin Francisco Scaramanga being the antithesis to Roger Moore’s Bond. While their final showdown was golden (see what I did there?), the majority of the film was ALL buildup to that confrontation – we basically just wait around for 90 minutes until the two meet. We at least got some decent comedy (Bond punking out the kid selling wooden elephants was hilariously evil) but we also got the return of bumbling racist Sheriff J.W. Pepper, who JUST HAPPENS to be in Thailand. Why Bond didn’t put a bullet in this guy on sight is beyond me.


diamonds-are-forever11. Diamonds are Forever (1971)

It’s weird that the film with the most memorable theme song features probably the most forgettable plot. Sean Connery chasing diamond smugglers around a casino should have been so much more fun than what we got. Things really pick up near the final act when Ernst Stavro Blofeld basically blows up the world’s nuclear arsenal and Bond shows up to administer BRITISH JUSTICE. With his fists. We needed more of THAT and less of villains Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd, who were as exciting as sun-dried dog turds.


dr no10. Dr. No (1962)

Ah, the one that started ‘em all – that alone requires it to have strong placement on our list. While it’s certainly a solid entry, Sean Connery was still working out the kinks of the Bond character. We got the exotic Jamaican locale, the iconic image of Honey Rider rising from the sea like Venus de Milo, villain Dr. No having dinner with Bond instead of, you know, KILLING HIM IMMEDIATELY – this one established the tropes that became hallmarks of the series. But when the best fight scene is Bond flailing around like an 11-year-old when a spider wound up in his bed, there’s definitely room for improvement.


the world is not enough9. The World is Not Enough (1999)

I know y’all are gonna revoke my license to blog for this, but I don’t care what the haters say – The World Is Not Enough is a ton of fun. From the T-1000-style title sequence to Pierce Brosnan RIDING A SPEEDBOAT THROUGH CITY STREETS it’s like a live-action video game – and coming from me, that’s a huge compliment. In fact, this is one of the few movies on this list that doesn’t suffer from the excruciating mid-movie boredom that cripples a lot of Bond films.  And the big twist, with pitiful damsel in distress Elektra King revealing herself to be the film’s bloodthirsty true villain, makes her the most underrated Bond bad guy of them all. She’s by far my personal favorite. Oscar worthy? Nah. But as a Bond film, it hits all the right notes.


from russia with love8. From Russia with Love (1963)

It’s rare that a sequel surpasses its predecessor, but the second Bond film took the franchise to new heights. The plot might be typical Cold War shenanigans, but it’s loaded with panache and personality. SPECTRE villains Red Grant and Rosa Klebb are great foils as a game of cat-and-mouse play out during a ride on the Orient Express.


thunderball7. Thunderball (1965)

It’s pretty crazy that some of the best action scenes in the Bond franchise come from one of the oldest movies. Sean Connery’s Bond heads to the Bahamas to recover stolen nuclear bombs, with most of the action infamously occurring underwater. The scenes are admittedly great but drag on way too long, concluding with a goofy final battle aboard a yacht that LITERALLY looks like it was recorded with the fast-forward button stuck on my remote. It’s a fun film brimming with action that gets a little too wrapped up in itself near the end.


on her majesty's secret service6. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)

This one has been slightly overrated over the years and I can understand why. George Lazenby’s solo stint as 007 features one of franchise’s best stories, with Bond falling in love (for real this time!) with Tracy di Vicenzo, only to have his happiness ripped away when his bride is murdered by Ernst Stavro Blofeld’s crew. The overall film is solid, if a little weird (Blofeld hypnotizing allergy sufferers to transport biological weapons … yeah), but it’s Lazenby’s final scene cradling his dead wife that makes this a top-tier film. When Lazenby says, “It’s quite all right, really. She’s having a rest….We have all the time in the world,” it’s delivered with a brokenness we’ve never seen before or since.


the spy who loved me5. The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)

By far, this is the most underrated film in the series. Villain Karl Stromberg’s plan is pretty far-fetched, even for a Bond movie: instigate a nuclear war, then repopulate civilization UNDA DA SEA, MON. But it’s Roger Moore’s chemistry with Agent Triple X that’s the real draw. Also, awesome henchman Jaws makes his debut here, silently stalking Bond throughout the film like a metal-mouthed bill collector. The final confrontation drags on too long (as usual) but this is really one of the franchise’s forgotten gems.


goldeneye4. Goldeneye (1995)

Admittedly, there may be a little bias here. This is the movie that introduced me to the series, so when I think of James Bond, the first image that pops into my head is Pierce Brosnan. Purists might puke, but even they can’t deny that this is the movie that revitalized the franchise after those boring ‘80s films. Alec Trevelyan as 007’s evil counterpart is a top tier villain; programmer Natalya Simonova is much more than eye candy yet doesn’t completely steal the show from Bond; and Judi Dench’s debut as M redefined a character that was little more than a plot device. Who else could call Bond a “sexist, misogynistic dinosaur” and leave him totally dumbfounded? GoldenEye reimagined Bond for a new generation of fans – I’m a witness.


skyfall3. Skyfall (2012)

Skyfall soars off the emotional (and sometimes adversarial) connection between Daniel Craig’s Bond and Judi Dench’s M. It’s grittier and way more intense than most of Bond’s outings — the man’s childhood home gets raided, trampled on, and blown to a billion pieces. But the crazy explosions can’t compare to emotional warfare Bond faces has he unsuccessfully attempts to protect his mentor from assassins. For the first time, Bond fails to save the day — the aftermath is what makes the tale so gripping.


goldfinger2. Goldfinger (1964)

When you think about the archetypes of a great Bond film, Goldfinger is unquestionably the blueprint. It features the most memorable characters and iconic imagery in the entire series – the solid gold Jill Masterson, Oddjob and his razorblade hat, Sean Connery nearly receiving laser eye surgery on his balls and, of course, villain Auric Goldfinger’s hilarious death threat: “No, Mr. Bond, I expect you TO DIE.” Even if you look past its influence on pop culture, at its core it’s still a really fun film, featuring, arguably, the most brilliant villain scheme in the entire series. It’s not the best, but it’s definitely the quintessential Bond flick.


CasinoRoyale1. Casino Royale (2006)

The best part about Daniel Craig’s Bond run is that he shows so much vulnerability. Bond is no longer the Teflon superhero who laughs off everything and never makes the wrong move. In this film, Bond screws up several times, loses his cool, gets manipulated left and right — he’s HUMAN. That’s what makes Craig’s first Bond outing so captivating. Of course, there’s also great drama, tremendous fight scenes, the most intense card game ever and a ball-busting torture scene that had every brother squeezing their crotches in sympathy. We watch Bond traverse impossible pitfalls to gain his 007 license, in essence, we finally learn how Bond got so good at his job. That journey alone makes this a classic.

How would you rank the Bond films? Let us know below.



  1. I mean, that list is so bad that it is like you were trying to do it as poorly as possible. How you manage to put On Her Majesty’s Secret Service in the top 10 is baffling. I like Daniel Craig, but 2 of his in the top 3. What did you just start watching Bond movies like 5 years ago? I guess they’re your opinions, but I find them terrible.

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