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Ranking the Films in the James Bond Franchise

As No Time to Die gears up for its U.S. release this weekend, it’s time to celebrate James Bond. In the micro, we’re feting Daniel Craig a lot as he hangs up his license to kill, but in the macro, it’s all things 007. The role Sean Connery first made iconic with Dr. No, everyone has their Bond. If not Connery, it could be Roger Moore or even Pierce Brosnan, not to mention Craig, depending on your age. A lot depends on when you first saw the spy on screen. For me, it was a Brosnan on the big screen, with Tomorrow Never Dies, though my father and grandfather loved Bond, so I’d already met Connery and Moore on the small screen. So, having seen every installment of the series (I’m leaving out the original Casino Royale and Never Say Never Again, FYI), I feel qualified to rank them all. So, as No Time to Die gets set for stateside release in a few days, that’s exactly what I’m doing today!

Below, you can see how I rank the James Bond franchise. from Connery to Craig. Without spoiling things, two specific eras show up in the pole positions. Truthfully, even the least on this list is still worth watching if you come across it on cable during a rainy weekend afternoon. There’s certainly been highs and lows for the 007 series, but as franchises go, it’s never truly had an out and out flop. The accomplishment of longevity alone is worth applauding. The fact that occasionally they’re even deemed Academy Award worthy? Well, that Oscar acclaim helps to make it one of the great entertainment properties of all time…

James Bond (Daniel Craig) prepares to shoot in NO TIME TO DIE an EON Productions and Metro Goldwyn Mayer Studios film Credit: Nicola Dove © 2020 DANJAQ, LLC AND MGM. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

As a reminder, here is a bit from my No Time to Die review, celebrating Daniel Craig’s final turn as James Bond:

James Bond never gets to say goodbye. The character, as well as the actors who have played him, changes with the times, but it’s not a planned changing of the guard. No Time to Die is the exception to this, as we’ve known since production began that Daniel Craig would be leaving the role after this. Because of that, the opportunity to do something a bit different presented itself to the powers that be. Luckily, everyone involved, from Craig on down, invested themselves in a proper sendoff. So, not only does Craig go out on a high, especially from an emotional standpoint, but the franchise itself is able to come to a stopping point. Of course, a reboot and recasting of the role is coming, but for now, 007 has wrapped up a five film story, and boy has it done so in style.

No Time to Die is an epic adventure that gives you just about everything you want out of Bond, as well as plenty of new elements, too. This has the most heart of any Bond flick, building on what was developed with Eva Green‘s Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale and Judi Dench‘s M in Skyfall. Where James gets as a character by the end is a point that no one has ever dared to take him before. That added element helps to make this something especially memorable. Just in terms of plot, it’s an above average film, but the heart and humor levels it up.

Alright, enough set up. Here now is the moment you all (or, at least a few of you) have been waiting for. This is how I would rank all of the 007 films to date, including No Time to Die:

25. Moonraker

24. A View to a Kill

23. Die Another Day

22. Diamonds Are Forever

21. Octopussy

20. The World is Not Enough

19. Quantum of Solace

18. The Man with the Golden Gun

17. Spectre

16. License to Kill

15. Live and Let Die

14. For Your Eyes Only

13. You Only Live Twice

12. The Living Daylights

11. Tomorrow Never Dies

10. Thunderball

9. The Spy Who Loved Me

8. Goldeneye

7. Dr. No

6. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

5. No Time to Die

4. From Russia with Love

3. Skyfall

2. Goldfinger

1. Casino Royale

Casino Royale

As you can see, I think Craig’s run as Bond has included three of the top half dozen efforts in the series. Pairing that trio with two of Connery’s best, as well as the George Lazenby outlier On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and you have the top tier of the franchise. Really, the only ones I really dislike are Moonraker and A View to a Kill (and it’s probably clear that I’m not a huge Timothy Dalton fan). Everything from Die Another Day (fun, but a complete jumping of the shark) on down has something to offer, with the top fifteen overall being where the truly good ones reside, give or take the light in which Live and Let Die is seen today. Overall though, if you’re a 007 fan, you really can’t go wrong.

All in all, I’m very excited for you all to see No Time to Die. This weekend, I’ll do an Awards Radar Community post that’s Bond related so you folks can chime in on 007. Look out for that, and obviously don’t be shy with your comments here. Before we go, one more extra little list is below, just as a fun bonus…

James Bond (Daniel Craig) and Dr. Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux) drive through Matera, Italy in NO TIME TO DIE an EON Productions and Metro Goldwyn Mayer Studios film Credit: Nicola Dove © 2020 DANJAQ, LLC AND MGM. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

For what it’s worth, this is how I rank the James Bond actors, going by their times as 007:

6. Timothy Dalton

5. Roger Moore

4. George Lazenby

3. Pierce Brosnan

2. Sean Connery

1. Daniel Craig

No Time to Die

What are your James Bond rankings? Let us know!

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  1. Thank you for leaving out Never Say Never Again, as it should be, as that movie is not a real Bond movie nor is it worth a moment’s thought.

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Written by Joey Magidson

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