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Top 10 James Bond Movies (According To Metacritic)

Regardless of their knowledge of movies or film franchises overall, most people have had some exposure to the James Bond 007 spy/action-thriller franchise at one point or another in their lives. The varying tones and quality that have arisen through well over 50 years of movies from Eon Productions (as well as a few others here and there) can, however, cause people to come away with vastly different impressions of the series.

For people who may have only seen a handful of Bond movies, and might want to know more about what are considered to be the best entries in the series, it can be handy to look at the top 10 James Bond movies ever according to the critical scores accumulated by review aggregate site Metacritic.

Updated on October 16th, 2021 by Mark Birrell: With the belated release of the 25th installment in the 007 series made by Eon Productions, No Time to Die, fans have been reconsidering their personal ranking of the top 10 James Bond movies to see whether it makes the cut. Have critics found it worthy of a spot on the franchise’s top 10? Regardless of opinions on the latest installment, now is a great time to look back over the series’ long history to consider what stands out as its greatest achievements.

10 Thunderball (1965) – 64

• Available on Pluto TV

The follow-up to the smash success of Goldfinger, this fourth outing for Sean Connery’s original James Bond once again revolves around missing nuclear weapons and precious stones but is still by far one of the most iconic entries into the franchise.

The first of two movie adaptations of Ian Fleming’s novel of the same name that starred Sean Connery as Bond, Thunderball perfectly demonstrates the character’s exquisite tastes and ruthless tendencies, with some gorgeous locations and some of 007’s most brutal kills.

9 GoldenEye (1995) – 65

• Available on Pluto TV, Hulu, and Paramount+

Pierce Brosnan’s introduction as 007 was a high point for the franchise that Brosnan’s era was never able to really recreate but that, coupled with the legendary video game adaptation, secures it as the most famous Bond titles and a defining piece of ’90s nostalgia.

The real challenge of GoldenEye was making James Bond, as a character and a franchise, work in a post-Cold War world and the results speak for themselves. Revolving around a rogue plot involving a satellite weapon, GoldenEye is a winning combination of the franchise’s past up to that point with what was then cutting edge style.

8 Moonraker (1979) – 66

• Available on Pluto TV

Inspired, as many movies were at the time, by the success of Star WarsMoonraker takes Roger Moore’s Bond to space for one of his most essential and tongue-in-cheek adventures ever and one that’s not typically seen on top 10 James Bond movies lists.

The franchise is yet to do it again but Moonraker was a risk that ultimately paid off, amplifying the most fun qualities of the series, such as bringing back fan-favorite henchman Jaws and giving him an unusually happy ending, while still delivering a distinctly menacing villain in the form of Michael Lonsdale’s Hugo Drax.

7 Never Say Never Again (1983) – 68

• Available to purchase on Prime Video

Sean Connery’s second adaptation of Ian Fleming’s novel Thunderball”, Never Say Never Again is the exact same basic story as Thunderball with updated 1980s gadgetry but the same boisterous Bond that fans had come to know and love.

Helmed by Empire Strikes Back director Irvin Kershner, the movie was a fittingly explosive affair for Connery’s second return to the role after Diamonds Are Forever in 1971, even though it’s not considered an official Bond movie as it wasn’t produced by mainline 007 movie producers, Eon.

6 No Time to Die (2021) – 68

After extensive delays to its release, including the loss of its original director, Daniel Craig’s final outing as James Bond was released and was enthusiastically ranked as not only one of the best films of Daniel Craig’s run as 007 but as one of the top 10 James Bond movies of all time by critics.

With multiple recurring characters from Craig’s previous movies in the franchise, such as Christoph Waltz’s take on Blofeld and Jeffrey Wright’s version of longtime Bond ally Felix Leiter, it proved to be an emotional sendoff for one of the most popular Bond eras ever and it stayed true to the iteration’s underlying goals to make Bond a more story-driven series.

5 Dr. No (1962) – 78

• Available on Pluto TV, Hulu, and Paramount+

The movie that started it all, Dr. No was Sean Connery’s first outing as James Bond and, though it was still well before the bells and whistles that the franchise would become most commonly known for, all of the character’s impeccable style was present in bucketloads.

Though a big financial success, Dr. No‘s critical reaction was more mixed back in 1962. But it has, evidently, been reappraised as one of the series’ best over the following decades and is a typical entry in most top 10 James Bond movies lists for more than nostalgia’s sake alone, with long-time Bond franchise cinematographer Ted Moore establishing a distinct cinematic look for the literary character.

4 Casino Royale (2006) – 80

• Available on Prime Video

GoldenEye director Martin Campbell launched Daniel Craig’s tenure as 007 as successfully as he did Pierce Brosnan’s but did so with an entirely different tone and style. Casino Royale redefined Bond as a more low-tech character study than previous iterations but lost none of the elegance of its look.

Judi Dench carried on as M from the Brosnan era to great success, establishing herself as a key presence within the franchise’s overall history, with Eva Green’s more complex role as 007’s love interest beginning the erosion of the concept of a disposable so-called “Bond Girl”.

3 Skyfall (2012) – 81

• Available on Hulu and Paramount+

Tasked with reigniting interest in Craig’s run as James Bond after Quantum of Solace underperformed with critics and audiences, as well as providing a story that fittingly celebrated the 50th anniversary of the franchise, director Sam Mendes managed to satisfy an overwhelming majority of critics and 007 fans with Skyfall.

Great performances from Craig and Judi Dench, coupled with Roger Deakins’ gorgeous cinematography, make it a high caliber experience but the plot is commendable also for finding ways to add dimensions to Bond’s often over-simplified character history.

2 From Russia with Love (1963) – 83

• Available on Pluto TV, Hulu, and Paramount+

Still very much in the stripped-down era of Bond, Connery’s second movie as 007 may be the least ostentatious Bond movie ever but the simplicity highlights some of its more Hitchcockian qualities. An interesting feature when considering Hitchcock’s reported interest in the project.

These relatively ascetic sensibilities, coupled with Robert Shaw’s intimidating bad guy and the first appearance of Desmond Llewellyn as Q, have helped From Russia with Love to remain essential viewing for fans and a mainstay on most top 10 Bond movie lists for decades.

1 Goldfinger (1964) – 87

• Available on Pluto TV and Paramount+

Still to this day the epitome of what the vast majority of people would think of as being a Bond movie, Goldfinger delivered so many of the greatest hallmarks of the franchise. Standouts include, of course, the all-time great Bond movie henchman Odd Job and his killer hat as well as the debut of Bond’s signature vehicle, the Aston Martin DB5, which would stick with the character up to and including Daniel Craig’s era of the character.

It’s easy to see why the movie remains the quintessential 007 experience in the eyes of many critical opinions. The name “Goldfinger” has become synonymous with the spy genre, becoming the basis for most parodies of it over the past half-century. From Shirley Bassey’s defining title song to the introduction of the outlandish gadgets, Goldfinger set the tone almost every action spy movie that followed it.

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