James Bond has been an icon of film for over 50 years. The character is a massive cultural touchstone and over the years has inspired people to do many Bond-like activities including joining the navy, or even try to join MI5 and MI6 (although hopefully they weren’t too disappointed when they realised it’s nothing like the movies). Aston Martin sales have surely risen due to the iconic cars being used in a number of the Bond movies. The music is a huge cultural influence too and you can view my blog posts where I review the Bond theme tunes by John Barry as part of #Johnuary.

Personally I tend to prefer the earlier Bond films and in particular the Sean Connery ones, (although perhaps not the final Sean Connery film from Eon Productions, Moonraker) but I thought I’d do a Top Ten list to rank my favourites properly. As always this is totally just my personal opinion. I’ve noticed that I don’t have any Pierce Brosnan movies on this link. Sorry Pierce!

10. Live and Let Die Live and Let Die
Released: 1973
Directed by: Guy Hamilton
Who is Bond?: Roger Moore
The first outing of Roger Moore as James Bond left Moore with big shoes to fill, as George Lazenby had found out after an unsuccessful film replacing Sean Connery. However, Moore would prove to fill those shoes – in fact, many would argue Moore is a better Bond than Connery. An adaptation of Fleming’s novel of the same name, this movie sees Bond target a corrupt Caribbean dictator who moonlights as a Harlem drug kingpin. Bond, investigating the deaths of several British agents, must topple the regime and the drugs trade while facing gangsters and voodoo magic. It’s a fun one which breaks the mould of previous Bond films. Some people love it for that reason. I certainly think it’s a very enjoyable watch.

9. The Spy Who Loved Me The Spy Who Loved Me
Released: 1977
Directed by: Lewis Gilbert
Who is Bond?: Roger Moore
By this time, Roger Moore had become very comfortable in the well-tailored suit of Britain’s most famous secret agent. Shot on location in Egypt, the film was nominated for three Oscars and is one of the most critically successful Bond excursions. Many people rank this film as the best Roger Moore film. It’s a slightly more serious affair compared to several of Moore’s other more lighthearted movies. It follows the Bond textbook faithfully and it also has Jaws in it. What more do you want?

8. You Only Live Twice You Only Live Twice
Released: 1967
Directed by: Lewis Gilbert
Who is Bond?: Sean Connery
This is another one of the Bond movies that follows the tried and tested gameplan well. It’s got everything you want in a Bond movie, girls, gadgets, cars and a maniacal baddie. Sean Connery’s Japanese disguise is a bit cringeworthy today though. I also didn’t realise the script was written by none other than Roald Dahl.

7. The Living Daylights The Living Daylights
Released: 1987
Directed by: John Glen
Who is Bond?: Timothy Dalton
This was the fourth Bond offering of John Glen, a director who helmed no less than five Bond movies. Some people don’t rate The Living Daylights too highly, and others put Timothy Dalton’s other film, Licence to Kill higher up. Both very good films in my opinion, and I do personally like Dalton as Bond. He offers something different, a more gritty real Bond, although he is arguably slightly lacking in the charm and humour areas. The Living Daylights just has a soft spot in my heart due to the time it came out. There was a lot of marketing around this film which I became very aware of, not least because of the computer game which I would play to death on the ZX Spectrum. And hey, it had a whistling keyring. Who didn’t love whistling keyrings in 1987?

6. Casino Royale Casino Royale
Released: 2006
Directed by: Martin Campbell
Who is Bond?: Daniel Craig
I’ve got to have a Daniel Craig film on the list and I’m going to go for Casino Royale. It was the first one of the new series which really took the Bond franchise by the balls and threw it into the modern era but still with a significant nod to the past. The Craig series of films has gone in a very brave direction with some different elements being incorporated in later films, but I’ve plumped for Casino Royale as the one that revitalised Bond and gave us a new tangible and cool Bond. As alluded to earlier, how Bond influences popular culture, the numerous scenes of Bond in casinos throughout his films, but particularly the very cool casino scene in this film, has helped casinos all around the world to have the cool factor and in more recent years sparked a huge interest in online casinos and a growth in the number of poker sites that we still see today. Bond has lasted 50 years and somehow still managed to stay cool and relevant through it all.

5. The Man With The Golden Gun The Man With The Golden Gun
Released: 1974
Directed by: Guy Hamilton
Who is Bond?: Roger Moore
I can hear the Bond aficionados groaning already, as many people don’t rate this movie, but I’ve got very fond memories of it. Sometimes the movies that aren’t critically rated are the most successful or achieve more of a cult following later. One great example of this is Moonraker which is widely disliked, and doesn’t make my top list but was actually it was the most successful Bond film until Goldeneye was released sixteen years later. Back to The Man With the Golden Gun though. I personally love it. It’s got Christopher Lee in it as Scaramanga. Hervé Villechaize as Nick Nack. A fantastic theme tune by Lulu. And it’s just a very quirky storyline and setting (like several of the Moore movies) but one that almost reminds me of Enter the Dragon in places, which is never a bad thing (it was made one year after the Bruce Lee film). It’s got a great 70s vibe and is just plain good fun. Back in the days when third nipples were exotic and frightening. For me this is a nostalgia filled Bond trip, and that’s why it gets a reasonably high spot on the list.

4. From Russia With Love From Russia With Love
Released: 1963
Directed by: Terence Young
Who is Bond?: Sean Connery
When I think of From Russia With Love I think of a serious storyline, a lot of grey scenery, but a damn good Bond movie. It’s one of those Bond films that just has nearly everything in it. It feels like a proper spy movie in places, which strangely not a lot of Bond films actually do. It also has Connery in his prime, which is always going to boost a Bond film up a ranking list. It is very gritty and hard-hitting in places, which is the kind of Bond film I like best.

3. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service On Her Majesty's Secret Service
Released: 1969
Directed by: Peter Hunt
Who is Bond?: George Lazenby
This film has slowly and increasingly received the plaudits that it deserved over the years. It used to be dismissed as ‘that one with the Australian Bond’, or ‘that one between Connery and Moore’ or ‘that one with the long title and a main theme tune without lyrics’. But it is most definitely one of the best Bond movies that has been made. To be honest in terms of storyline and production it may well be no.1, it’s just that the next two films have other elements that boost them higher. But OHMSS is a fantastic Bond film that is often unfairly disregarded to its one-time Bond actor. 

2. Dr No Dr No
Released: 1962
Directed by: Terence Young
Who is Bond?: Sean Connery
This is of course the first Bond film and as such holds a special place my heart. It’s not the best Bond film in terms of the number of ‘Bond-isms’ but that’s because those tropes hadn’t all been put in place yet. It’s just a beautifully made movie and a great intro to the Connery Bond. Several iconic moments too, not least the introduction to Ursula Andress walking out of the sea.

1. Goldfinger Goldfinger
Released: 1964
Directed by: Guy Hamilton
Who is Bond?: Sean Connery
My no.1 was always going to be Goldfinger. To me it’s got everything. All the staple Bond elements you expect, including the Shirley Bassie theme tune, a ridiculously named female (Pussy Galore), the Aston Martin and the iconic henchman (Oddjob). The Aston Martin in particular is my favourite Bond car, and there have been many iconic cars in the Bond series. This film is Bond perfection in many ways and, I feel, thoroughly deserving of the no.1 spot here.