Every James Bond Movie, Ranked (Cam Edition)

A couple of days before Christmas, I linked to Vulture’s ranked list of James Bond films and mentioned that I should do the same exercise myself at some point. Since it’s a rainy New Year’s Day here in New York and I have nothing better to do, I took a stab at it, with the caveat that I have not yet seen No Time to Die and don’t really have any desire to see the 1967 version of Casino Royale. I’d add that the confidence interval is higher for the movies closer to the top of the list since they’re the ones I like, so are the ones I’ve seen more times—I’ve seen them all at least twice, except for the final four, which I’ve only seen once.

My ranking method was pretty simple; I took each movie in order and went down the list, asking myself “would you rather see this one or that one?” until I found the spot where I wanted to see this one less than the previous entry on the list, but more than the next entry on the list.

  1. GoldenEye (Brosnan, 1995) [Vulture rank: 10]
  2. Spectre (Craig, 2015) [17]
  3. You Only Live Twice (Connery, 1967) [13]
  4. Octopussy (Moore, 1983)[12]
  5. Skyfall (Craig, 2012) [7]
  6. From Russia with Love (Connery, 1963) [6]
  7. Casino Royale (Craig, 2006) [1]
  8. Goldfinger (Connery, 1964) [8]
  9. Moonraker (Moore, 1979) [20]
  10. No Time to Die (Craig, 2021) [16]
  11. For Your Eyes Only (Moore, 1981) [2]
  12. The Spy Who Loved Me (Moore, 1977) [5]
  13. Diamonds Are Forever (Connery, 1971) [15]
  14. Thunderball (Connery, 1965) [4]
  15. Never Say Never Again (Connery, 1983) [19]
  16. Quantum of Solace (Craig, 2008) [24]
  17. Tomorrow Never Dies (Brosnan, 1997) [9]
  18. The World Is Not Enough (Brosnan, 1999) [23]
  19. The Living Daylights (Dalton, 1987) [14]
  20. A View to a Kill (Dalton, 1985) [21]
  21. The Man with the Golden Gun (Moore, 1974) [18]
  22. Live and Let Die (Moore, 1973) [22]
  23. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (Lazenby, 1969) [3]
  24. Dr. No (Connery, 1962) [11]
  25. Licence to Kill (Dalton, 1989) [25]
  26. Die Another Day (Brosnan, 2002) [26]

Not ranked: Casino Royale (Niven, 1967) [n/a], No Time to Die (Craig, 2021) [16].

There are some substantial differences at the top of the list, but my rankings align with Vulture’s more than I thought they would. The biggest point of divergence is On Her Majesty’s Secret Service; given that I’ve only seen it once and it is generally viewed a lot more favorably by others than by me, maybe I should give it another look. Die Another Day is a truly wretched film and rightly ranks last on both lists.

GoldenEye ending up as my #1 pick was maybe a little surprising, but I think a lot of it had to do with it being the reboot of the series after the Dalton era, which I am really not a fan of. I re-watched it last weekend and it really is a fun film, plus I have fond memories of playing the N64 game, so the nostalgia element probably played a significant role in getting that one to the top of the list.

I also had a bit of a think about how I’d rank the actors who have played Bond… this is probably a more contentious question than the order of the films, and tougher to rank than I originally thought it would be.

  1. Daniel Craig
  2. Roger Moore
  3. Sean Connery
  4. Pierce Brosnan
  5. George Lazenby
  6. Timothy Dalton

The toughest call there was between Moore and Connery. I know Connery is usually held up as the archetypal Bond, but for me, there’s just something about Moore that gave him the edge. Close call, and one that could change depending on how I’m felling on any given day. The top four are all pretty close, and (despite me not really liking the movie) Lazenby was fine in his single showing, but there’s daylight between Lazenby and Dalton.

I’m going to have to come back to this after seeing No Time to Die, and possibly also after a re-watching of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. It might be interesting to revisit this over time too, to see if/how my perceptions of the movies change.

Update (10:37pm): I rented No Time to Die this evening, and without wanting to give too much away, thought it was a fitting end to the Craig era… I had an inkling of the direction it was going to go when Bond broke out the “we have all the time in the world” line from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service in the opening sequence, but was still a little taken aback by the ending. Definitely a worthy addition to the franchise, and worth a spot in the top ten.