The best and worst James Bond movies: a ranked list

In celebration of the new Skyfall, we return to all 22 official James Bond films in search of the perfect spy cocktail, rating the best and worst Bond girls, 007 theme songs and leading actors with the licence to kill.

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Casino Royale

Casino Royale

Casino Royale (2006)

There were plenty of howls of protest after Daniel Craig was announced as the newest Bond (“The name’s Bland, James Bland” blared the London Daily Mirror). But he quickly put the naysayers to rest with his enthrallingly feral take on the secret agent. This is a Bond for the modern era, even more deliciously drool-worthy than his leading ladies (he’s the lust object rising from the sea in a cheeky homage to Dr. No’s Ursula Andress) and emotionally jagged in ways that none of his predecessors ever approached. Several peak action scenes (a wowzer of an opening parkour foot chase), a terrific villain in Mads Mikkelsen’s terrorist banker Le Chiffre and poker games as suspenseful as any explosive set piece easily make this our overall favorite.

Theme song: The best Bond film unfortunately has one of the franchise’s more unmemorable theme songs, “You Know My Name,” sung by Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell­—a hard-rock shoutfest that inspires shoulder shrugging as opposed to head banging.
Martini rating:

The Bond girl: Intelligent, feisty Treasury agent Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) melts Bond’s cold heart, only to shatter his fragile soul.
Martini rating:

The killer moment: Bond orders a vodka martini. “Shaken or stirred?” His cool reply: “Do I look like I give a damn?”—Keith Uhlich

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  1. 22–16
  2. 15–9
  3. 8–2
  4. No. 1 with a bullet

Users say

32 comments
Paul S
Paul S

For those who love camp movies, all the Bond series would please. However, as a film that could be taken with a smaller pinch of salt From Russia with Love is the best available.

Manuel
Manuel

What a bullschid ranking, the author must be a star wars fan o0!

Jay
Jay

Casino Royale best Bond of all time ? L M F A O !!!

Illilleromemy
Illilleromemy

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Vincent
Vincent

I disagree with this horrible list on every level, How do u rate quantum of solace above octopussy????? Tht. Was actually 1 of my favorites, and tomorrow nvr dies was actually decent

Vincent
Vincent

I disagree with this horrible list on every level, How do u rate quantum of solace above octopussy????? Tht. Was actually 1 of my favorites, and tomorrow nvr dies was actually decent

Mud
Mud

Casino Royale is the best Bond movie with also one of the best lines. While discussing accommodations and their cover stories..... Craig to Green: "Don't worry, you're not my type." Her response, "What, smart?" haha Now that is witty and a Bond girl for the new millennium. Also on the train, listen to how he pronounces his watch brand, Omega. And her response, "Gorgeous."

Cave Canem
Cave Canem

As a Bond fan I actually didn't like that many now that I look at the list. I agree about Casino Royale, it was fantastic from beginning to end. They managed to update fight and chase scenes. LOVED the opening chase scene on foot and the crumbling Venetian palace at the end. Craig was amazing. Quantum of Solace: WHO can be afraid of Bolivian dictators (except the Bolivian population)?? Skyfall could have been really, really good, but too long and with Javier Bardem playing something too close to Hannibal. Then Goldfinger and From Russia With Love and let's also save Dr. No. Incredibly enough, the worst Bond of all -George Lazenby -- came out in a film that was otherwise really good; Diana Rigg saved it. The Brosnan era, frankly none. Don't buy him for one second, I think he wears hair spray. Until Craig, Timothy Dalton was the only one who brought intensity and the pyschopath edge to the role, but the films look too dated. And Roger Moore really took it to clown territory. They should have burnt every copy of Moonraker and Octopussy. I have a fondness for Live and Let Die -- so 70s, great song, and though he was as expressive as a roast beef I guess I saw it young enough so that it stuck -- and same for The Man with a Golden Gun. Great villain, Scaramanga/Christopher Lee. The rest frankly would be at the bottom of the list...But, let's all agree to disagree.

bob
bob

I totally find that casino royale is the best 007 movie!

Pete
Pete

You have to update this list. Skyfall is the best Bond film of all time.... nothing even comes close. Actually, novelty and sentimentality aside, all the D. Craig Bonds are by far the best Bond films, if you are being serious about this (nothing against Connery, who is one of my mentors). QoS was the weakest of the three D. Craigs, but was still an amazing film. I disagree with everything else on this list however, other than Casino Royale. The rest of this list makes little if any sense to me. Has the writer of this article even seen the films? Oh well, different strokes I suppose.

derrick
derrick

The flint moves were better

seyed
seyed

i love this 007 jemes band move andthis site good move good site

Peter Berk
Peter Berk

Okay, for whatever it's worth (not much), here's my ranking of the Bond films on a scale from 000 to 007: Dr. No - 004 - before the series hit its stride, but a great beginning. FRWL - 005 - even better, but not quite there. Goldfinger - 007 - just about perfect. Thunderball - 005 1/2 - very good but slow in parts. YOLT - 005 1/2 - Yes it's overblown, the plot is basically a series of "Kill Bond now!" scenes and SC looks bored, but the sets, the music and the locale make it a gem. OHMSS - 007 - Yes, GL is no SC, but in a way, he was just right for this particular film, far and away the most emotionally resonant of all 23. DAF - 004 - Routine story, non-threatening take on Blofeld, cheesy Vegas settings...and no mention of what went down in the film before! LALD - 002 - My personal least favorite thanks to bizarre voodoo villains and Smokey and the Bandit set pieces. TMWTGG - 003 - Marginally better. TSWLM - 006 - A near perfect Bond film. Moonraker - 005 - Sure, it's absurd at the end, but most everything leading up to the finale works very well. FYEO - 006 - Another expressionless lead actress, but a very well done back-to-basics entry in the series. Octopussy - 004 - Bland villains and clown suits - need I say more? AVTAK - 004 - Enlivened by a genuinely captivating bad guy but brought down by a weak leading lady and aging leading man. TLD - 005 - TD always made me uncomfortable in the role - too intense, even when trying for a light or romantic moment, but a good film nonetheless. LTK - 003 - A good film, but not a Bond film. Goldeneye - 006 - PB's best, though his always-trying-to-look-cool "Bond face" and heavy breathing delivery sometimes got annoying. TND - 005 1/2 - Solid all around. TWINE - 004 1/2 - Brought down by another centerfold-as-rocket-scientist leading lady (a la Tanya Roberts as a geologist in AVTAK). DAD - 005 - Yes, ridiculous gadgets and the awful CGI scene, but - unlike many of you - I like a dose of fantasy in my Bonds, which leads us to the DC era: CR - 005 1/2 - Exquisitely done (if a bit long), but even after seeing Skyfall the other day, I still can't quite buy DC as JB. He's a terrific actor, of course, and this may be more the storylines he's been given than him, but I've had it with intense, brooding, Batman-ish heroes of late; I miss the fun early Bonds of the past that had villains and sets you could never find in one of today's Jason Bourne movies. QOS - 003 - Instantly forgettable save one or two great scenes. Skyfall - 005 1/2 - Beautifully done and I certainly appreciate (a la OHMSS) any effort to give Bond more dimension such as a family back story, but another heavy, dark and downbeat entry in the series (plus I could have done without the Home Alone ending). Let me know what you think - thanks! Peter

Eelnodrog
Eelnodrog

Lots of negative comments made about Quantum of Solace, and while it wasn't nearly as good as Casino Royale it still beats any of the crap put out with Roger Moore or Pierce Brosnan.

John
John

TO all the tasteless pigs dumping on Casino Royale for "not having any gadgets" or any of the other bull**** trappings that dragged down previous Bond films, I suggest this: Go read the books. Casino Royale was right on the money as far as Bond showing some emotion, as far as the tone, as far was what a good Bond film should be. To the idiot above in the Facebook comments with the Rambo facebook profile pic (Ryan Hoskins) and the tastelessness to think that the Brosnan atrocities are anything but, I suggest this: Run head-first into a wall as fast as you can because you are simply too stupid to live. The end.

popnfresh
popnfresh

Like most people, I would not have ranked these films the same way. Here's my list: 22. Die Another Day - a huge letdown. 21. Live and Let Die - simply awful. 20. License To Kill - Dalton's low point. 19. A View to a Kill - Roger Moore should have retired long before it. 18. The World is Not Enough - pointless. 17. Diamonds Are Forever - Connery should have stayed away. 16. Moonraker - lousy script and even worse special effects. 15. For Your Eyes Only - tepid plot, but gorgeous Bond girl. 14. Tomorrow Never Dies - Michelle Yeoh makes up for much of the film's shortcomings. 13. The Living Daylights - had its moments, but not great, either. 12. You Only Live Twice - passable, but not up to Connery's previous 4 Bonds. 11. The Spy Who Loved Me - fun, but not especially memorable. 10. Octopussy - goofy fun. Worth it if only to see Moore playing Bond playing a clown. 9. Quantum of Solace - revisionist Bond that doesn't entirely work, but has a very creepy villain. 8. On Her Majesty's Secret Service - Diana Rigg was terrific and Lazenby wasn't half bad. 7. The Man With the Golden Gun - Moore's best Bond. Christopher Lee was perfect. 6. Goldfinger - Connery's previous two and the one after it were better. 5. Goldeneye - Brosnan's best Bond, by far. 4. Dr. No - SPECTRE's auspicious debut. 3. Casino Royale - solid Bond. Fabulous location shots. Eva Green was sensational. 2. From Russia With Love - not one, but three awesome villains. Also had a great John Barry score. 1. Thunderball - hit all the marks. This is also Connery's favorite Bond.

Dan
Dan

You selected Casino Royale as the #1 Bond movie???? Seriously???? It felt like I was watching any number of tired Hollywood action movies, not a Bond movie. It lacked sophistication and Craig was no more than a beefcake thug with about as much charisma and smooth charm as Timothy Dalton. Quantum of Solace was poorly edited and photographed... and to top it off... seemed to be copying the "style" of a Bourne movie. One needed a barf bag to get through those ADHD-fests. Connery and Moore were the best, when they were allowed to be at their best with a good script. Brosnan would be third IMHO. A good portion of his films, sans GoldenEye, were stinkers. He knew it too. And OHMSS is quite overrated with a sillier than usual premise, except for the Mrs. Bond subplot.

John Knapp
John Knapp

Good list EXCEPT - move Casino Royale down 15 spots. Come on, an almost non existent cool car, almost no gadgets, below average Bond babe and a sensitive Bond. We can get that in a Jennifer Anniston movie.

Joe
Joe

It would take about 10 martinis for me to think the mousey French lady from Casino Royale deserves a 10 martini rating. Otherwise a fun list.

Joe
Joe

Decent list, dragged down by some glaring errors. The correct answer is: 1. Casino Royale 2. From Russia with Love 3. On Her Majesty's Secret Service 4. Thunderball 5. GoldenEye 6. Dr. No 7. The Living Daylights 8. Tomorrow Never Dies 9. For Your Eyes Only 10. Goldfinger 11. The Man with the Golden Gun 12. The Spy Who Loved Me 13. License to Kill 14. Moonraker 15. The World Is Not Enough 16. Quantum of Solace 17. You Only Live Twice 18. Diamonds Are Forever 19. Live and Let Die 20. Die Another Day 21. A View to a Kill 22. Octopussy

Adam
Adam

A very good list! But I would put Tomorrow Never Dies a lot higher (it has a great villain and Bond girl, not to mention an excellent k.d. lang alternate theme song) and the ultra-campy Diamonds Are Forever a LOT lower (it's ludicrous in almost every way and creepily homophobic).

Craig M
Craig M

@Peter Berk  It sounds like that you want Austin Powers. The Villains and Sets of yesteryear could not be put into a modern Bond film and pass muster.

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