5. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Whereas J.J. Abrams was an established studio director, helming installments of Mission Impossible and Star Trek before coming to Star Wars, Rian Johnson was a more unconventional choice for this universe, producing original works like Brick and Looper that contorted reality and played with the genre in unique ways. Not only did Johnson direct The Last Jedi, but he also wrote the screenplay, doing his best to lead his part of the saga, that immediately picks up where The Force Awakens left off, in unexpected directions.
The divisiveness among the Resistance commanders is proficiently written, generating a tangible tension on board the evacuation ships between Poe, Leia, and Holdo. With the First Order on their tails, the constant apprehension causes a sense of ambivalence about the heroes’ chances of survival. When Leia is blown out into open space, few could have imagined she can manipulate her gift of the Force to pull herself safely onto the ship. Then Holdo’s bold and courageous sacrifice is shot in spectacular fashion as lightspeed is depicted in slow-motion silence.
All of the plotlines add value to the story and/or characters, even the side mission that Finn and Rose take to Canto Bight to find a hacker, eccentrically played by Benicio del Toro. Meanwhile, lightyears away from everyone, the aging Luke Skywalker training Rey effectively mirrors a youthful Luke under the tutelage of Yoda on Dagobah, and yet it is ultimately surprising that the titular Jedi never physically leaves his island. Luke’s Force projection, from across the galaxy, is a shocking utilization of his unmatched powers.
Johnson’s collaboration with his long-time director of photography, Steve Yedlin, is a crucial factor in The Last Jedi’s astounding cinematography. Kylo Ren and Rey fighting the Royal Guard is the most sensationally choreographed sequence in the sequel trilogy; it directly follows one of the most rousing fatalities in Star Wars history – Kylo slaying his master, Snoke. The pinnacle sequence on Crait closes out this thoroughly engaging episode, mainly due to the aforementioned Force projection by Luke Skywalker, but also because the red ground mineral lifting above the white surface during the battle is visually stunning.