Ranking All 22 James Bond Films

Tomorrow marks the opening of the 23rd Eon produced James Bond Film “Skyfall”. The film stars Daniel Craig, who is the sixth actor to portray the British secret agent, and it is his third film doing so. The series began back in 1962 with the film “Dr. No”, and had Sean Connery starring as 007. Although Connery remains in most peoples eyes, the standard by which the other five actors who have played the role are judged, each actor managed to bring their own style and strengths to the role.

To get ready for the release of “Skyfall” - and since we love making lists on this site - I figured I would rank all 22 of the previous Bond films. Since I’m the only one on this site who has seen all 22 of the films, unfortunately there won’t be a group consensus like there normally is with lists like this. This one is solely based on my opinion, and is not meant to rank the films in order of which are the best, but rather just a fun list ranking them in order of how I like them. The great thing about this series is that it has run for so long and had so many different tones, that I’m sure that everyone can find at least a couple of Bond films that they enjoy. Whether you want the campiness of Sean Connery’s films, the comedy of Roger Moore’s films, or the seriousness of Daniel Craig’s films, all over up something different than the others.

So hit the jump to see all 22 James Bond films ranked.

22. From Russia With Love (1963) Sean Connery
Even though critics seemed to like this movie, for me it is the most boring of all the Bond Films. It’s filled with dull locations, an uninteresting plot, and the least charismatic villains in the entire series.

21. Live and Let Die (1973) Roger Moore
The main plot of this film is actually one of the more realistic and grounded ones in the series. The problem was that they also decided to throw in some blatant supernatural aspects and it clashes with the overall tone of the film.

20. Die Another Day (2002) Pierce Brosnan
Even though the special effects in this film are good, the plot is so outrageous and the script filled to capacity with cheesy one-liners, that it’s tough to take this one serious for even a moment.

19. Quantum of Solace (2008) Daniel Craig
When I went back and watched this film a second time I realized it wasn’t nearly as bad as I remembered. The problem was that I still don’t really remember what happened in the film. It’s too forgettable and had the unfortunate task of following “Casino Royale”.

18. A View To Kill (1985) Roger Moore
Another film where the plot is just too outrageous to ever take seriously, this one is towing the line with unintentional comedy far too often. This was Roger Moore’s last outing as Bond, and frankly with how old he was, he probably was kept on for one too many films. Still, you get Christopher Walken as the villain, and who would ever complain about that?

17. The World Is Not Enough (1999) Pierce Brosnan
There isn’t really anything great going on here but it’s an entertaining enough watch. It’s got a villain with a pretty convenient deformity. Oh, and it doesn’t hurt that Denise Richards and Sophie Marceau are in this.  

16. Octopussy (1983) Roger Moore
This film has plenty of eye-candy for sure, both in the locations and with the Bond Girls. The action sequences on the other hand are just a little too outrageous. Sean Connery’s fight scenes look ridiculous today, but they’re given a pass because of the time the movies came out. By 1983 though, the fight scenes in this movie shouldn’t look as bad as they do.

15. Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) Pierce Brosnan
If you watch all the Bond films in order, you’ll have seen this general plot a couple of times by now. The good thing is that I always thought the plot worked well in Bond films. Plus this is probably the best action from any of Pierce Brosnan’s films.

14. For Your Eyes Only (1981) Roger Moore
When I saw this the first time I really didn’t like it at all, but the second viewing brought it up a little. One thing that you run into with the Bond series a lot more than you think you would is snow-ski shootouts. This one does it by far the best of all the films. Heck, they bring all sorts of winter sport-themed shootouts into this movie that, while outrageous, are fairly entertaining. Other than that though, it’s all pretty standard stuff. Plus, other than “A View To Kill”, this is the worst group of Bond girls.

13. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969) George Lazenby
I really hate having this movie so low on the countdown, because I really think this movie has an undeserved bad reputation with fans of the series. This was Lazenby’s only film as Bond, and his main fault is that he had to follow series icon Sean Connery. While Lazenby isn’t on Connery’s level in terms of charisma, you’d better believe Lazenby definitely pulled off far more convincing fight scenes than Connery. In fact, of all the actors to play Bond, Lazenby, who served in the Australian special forces, is easily the most equipped to actually do the things Bond does in the films. Plus, this is far and away the most emotional of the Bond films, and that aspect of the film really takes you by surprise.

12. Diamonds Are Forever (1971) Sean Connery
This was Connery’s last outing as James Bond, so it gets a few bonus points for that. Even though the plot of the film isn’t the most engaging, the collection of villains in this movie are some of the creepiest ones in the series. Charles Gray who portrays Bond’s biggest arch rival from the entire series, Ernst Blofeld is my favorite actor to portray the character, and I wish he would’ve been the actor playing the character all along.

11. The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) Roger Moore
This was the first time we saw the “lets destroy the planet and start over” plot. Like I said, it’s outrageous but it makes for an entertaining movie. This film also introduces my favorite of all the Bond villains, the invincible Jaws, played by 7’2” actor Richard Kiel.

10. GoldenEye (1995) Pierce Brosnan
This was Brosnan’s first film as Bond after six years off following “License To Kill”. Honestly, this movie may be more famous for the N64 game it spawned than anything. This is pretty easily the best of all the Brosnan films though, which unfortunately isn’t saying much. The problem these films run into is that they’re just too close to “Casino Royale” so it’s hard to overlook the flaws that were forgiven with earlier installments in the series. Still, it remains high simply for the fact that Sean Bean (my all time favorite supporting actor) is in it as the villain.

9. Thunderball (1965) Sean Connery
This film features one of the most outrageous fight scenes ever imagined: a full on underwater harpoon battle. I still don’t know whether I hate the scene or love it (I guess since the movie is this high on the list I can’t hate it too much), but it's definitely iconic. It’s a prime example of why the Connery films get a pass with scenes like that. If that scene were to be thrown into a Daniel Craig movie, the entire film would be torn to shreds. Besides that notable fight scene, this was in the heart of the S.P.E.C.T.R.E storyline, which was one of the few conflicts that spanned multiple films, and was easily the best in that regard.

8. The Living Daylights (1987) Timothy Dalton
This was the first of two films for Timothy Dalton. Now that I’ve seen his films multiple times, I would say he is ranked as my third favorite actor to play Bond. The best way to describe him is he doesn’t have one thing that he does amazing, but he does everything really well. He’s probably the most balanced actor out of all six men who played Bond. Plus, you get to see a young Gimli (John Rhys-Davies) in this movie.

7. Licence To Kill (1989) Timothy Dalton
Two words: Revenge. Plot. You give me an 80’s action movie with a good revenge plot and my butt is firmly planted in the seat. This took the drug plot line that “Live and Let Die” squandered so badly and turned it into one hell of an entertaining movie. Plus, look for a really young Benicio Del Toro, and Wayne Newton playing a really creepy evangelical preacher.

6. The Man With the Golden Gun (1974) Roger Moore
If you haven’t figured out by now, if the Bond films featured an actor who would go onto star in The Lord of the Rings, that film got an automatic boost. This film featured Christopher Lee, who played one of the best Bond villains in the entire series. This film also features one of my favorite Bond girls, Mary Goodnight (Britt Ekland).

5. Dr. No (1962) Sean Connery
The one that started them all. This film has a little bit of everything - great exotic locations, cinemas most famous bikini scene, a great villain, and an engaging plot. In terms of the villain, who the film is titled after, the formula used for this was a method that I have always loved, which was keeping him off camera for the majority of the movie. When he finally shows up, it makes him that much more effective.

4. Moonraker (1979) Roger Moore
This is my favorite Roger Moore film. This is the second time the “destroy the world and start over” plot shows up and this was the best use of it. Roger Moore is great in this, but it is Jaws that steals the movie in this one. Maybe I’ll just state it now: he’s my favorite character in the entire series. Yep, he’s that good.

3. Goldfinger (1964) Sean Connery
This is widely considered the greatest of all the Bond films, and I can definitely see why. This is Connery’s best film, and for me this is the most entertaining story in the entire series. It’s such a good movie that I can almost forgive the ridiculous towel/robe/whatever the hell it is thing Connery is wearing.

2. Casino Royale (2006) Daniel Craig
If were judging these movies strictly from a technical standpoint, this is the best Bond film, and it’s really not even close. This is the best action in the entire series, and Daniel Craig knocks the role out of the park.

1. You Only Live Twice (1967) Sean Connery
Here it is folks, my favorite of all the Bond films. The special effects for this film are very impressive for their time, and this has some of the best locations of the entire series. This is another example of a lot of ridiculous plot aspects - Connery trying to be passed off as Japanese while not trying to change his heavy Scottish accent comes to mind. Yet the movie is so fun from start to finish that you gladly immerse yourself in all the over-the-top silliness of it all. Plus we finally get our first look at S.P.E.C.T.R.E Agent Number 1: Ernst Blofeld, the most notorious villain from the entire Bond series who until this film, we had never actually seen his face. Talk about commitment to saving a villain for the right moment.

Well that will wrap up my personal countdown of all the James Bond films. This is a series I have come to love, and while the series certainly has its weak spots, the good thing about a series that has been going on for 50 years now and is mainly comprised of stand-alone films is that it has something to offer everyone. Hopefully this list has been helpful for those who haven’t seen many or any James Bond films. With talk of “Skyfall” being so great, I plan on leaving a comment later on where it would rank had I done this list after seeing “Skyfall”.

Please feel free to let me know what you think of my list, or give a quick rundown of what your favorite Bond films are. Thanks for reading.