For over half a century, the James Bond franchise has provided thrilling movie entertainment. High production value, iconic characters, and an ever-evolving style have earned Bond a place in the annals of many prestigious lists. Bond has become so recognizable and popular that the character has earned his very own sub-genre of spy thriller: the Bond movie.
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Today, the countless Bond films that have been released in the past five decades can be overwhelming to an outsider looking to join the pandemonium. But which of these Bond movies stands out as the best of the bunch? To answer this question, we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 Bond movies of all time.
Many consider Goldfinger to be the quintessential Bond movie. Starring Sean Connery in his third outing as the stoic spy, Goldfinger features a classic match-up between Bond and his suave, golden-locked foe. It has an iconic soundtrack, one of the classic Bond girls, and action-packed set pieces. This is where the Bond franchise fully came into its own and established many of the conventions that would follow in the subsequent decades.
Speaking of Sean Connery, the movie that made him famous also happens to be a Bond classic. From Russia With Love improves on Casino Royale with a tighter script, a larger set-piece sequence, and strong use of Bond’s gadgetry. The film also introduced the concept of a Bond Girl love-interest, a Bond ally that comes to his aid and again, and the unforgettable henchman Red Grant (Robert Shaw).
Skyfall is the most recent entry into the Bond franchise and also one of the most acclaimed. With Daniel Craig as the tough, no-nonsense Bond, Skyfall reintroduced a modern take on classic elements, including the return of beloved characters like Q and Moneypenny. It also boasted incredible set pieces, stunning cinematography, and a heart-pounding soundtrack. Skyfall proved that a new take on the franchise could be just as engaging as its classic predecessors.
The Daniel Craig debut, Casino Royale, reset the bar for the franchise. It brought Bond and the audience into a 21st-century world of espionage, shifting away from his more fantastical enemy-of-the-week storylines. The action sequences are also on another level, and though slightly less iconic than his later outings, Casino Royale showed audiences that a more grounded approach could be successfully executed on-screen.
There’s something to be said about a movie that can comfortably skip out on the Bond song and still manage to be a classic. The Spy Who Loved Me starred Roger Moore in his third outing as the titular spy, and features a megalomaniac villain and a larger-than-life plot. The Spy Who Loved Me also marked Moore’s departure from the Bond equation, and remains one of his most beloved movies in the series.
The very first Bond movie to come out, Dr.No introduced the world to the iconic spy. Granted, Dr.No looks quite dated compared to its sequels, but the film remains a classic watching experience, with Sean Connery demonstrating why he was cast as the legendary spy. Dr.No also proved that 007 had what it takes to become a movie legend.
By most accounts, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is considered to be the greatest Bond movie ever made, with George Lazenby in the lead role. The film featured a Bond-gone-rogue, a brilliant and methodical adversary, and incredible stunts. It also marked the only instance where Bond was married, making fans’ hearts break in unison when his beloved Tracy met a tragic end. This movie is the benchmark for the Bond series, setting many standards that future films will strive to match.
Regarded by some as the height of Sean Connery’s screen time as Bond, Thunderball is a classic worthy of the 007 seal of approval. The movie boasts things like beautiful international locations, a memorable group of villains, and a stunning score. Thunderball also marks the introduction of SPECTRE, the evil organization that would become the cornerstone of many Bond films.
GoldenEye marked the return of the Bond franchise with Pierce Brosnan taking on the titular role, but it’s also a frenetic action movie with a shocking ending and lots of great stunts. Despite moving away from the Moore-era cheekiness, GoldenEye still allows the audience to revel in Bond’s escapades with some absolutely outrageous set-pieces.
10. Moonraker (1979)
Rounding off the list is the much-maligned Moonraker. Though criticized for faring away from the Bond script, Moonraker remains an iconic Bond movie. With its far-fetched story, hokey dialogue, and unique action sequences, Moonraker is a fun treat from top to bottom. It’s a great example of how the Bond franchise can be as much goof as it is adventure.
These are the best Bond movies of all time in our opinion. Whether you like the classic take of Connery, or prefer the edgier modern rendition of Craig, there is a movie that will appeal to everyone. So why not give a Bond movie marathon a go and see which movie sticks out the most.