4. Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith
Revenge of the Sith misses the Top 3 by a Loth-cat’s whisker. The third episode caps off the prequel trilogy with a more commanding vigor than the respective third movie of the sequels or even the original series. Its success is undoubtedly owed to the ambitious undertaking of Anakin’s turn to the dark side, which George Lucas handles with tremendous proficiency.
If Maul’s duel in The Phantom Menace isn’t the best lightsaber fight ever, then Obi-Wan matching Anakin blow for blow on Mustafar certainly is. It is also known as one of the longest sword fights in cinematic history, which enhances the aching turmoil at the center of this conflict, where two beloved characters, who were once extremely affectionate master and padawan, gruelingly fight each other to the bitter end. It is more emotional than their face-off in A New Hope because at that point Obi-Wan knows that his friend is already lost.
Revenge of the Sith singularly features several of the most heartbreaking moments in Star Wars canon. If the Jedi feud isn’t traumatic enough, Anakin Force-choking Padme to ignite the fight is almost unbearable. Then her passing as she gives birth to Luke and Leia completes the series of despair. And who can forget the enactment of Order 66, when the Jedi are tragically slaughtered one by one by their clone comrades?
The ensemble cast pushes the envelope to offer the best acting since the original trilogy. Hayden Christensen steps up his game for Anakin’s riveting metamorphosis to Darth Vader. Natalie Portman conveys a poignant vulnerability on par with some of her best dramatic works. And Ian McDiarmid is so manipulatively sinister as Palpatine that it reinforces the emperor’s evil stature in science fiction mythology.
Ewan McGregor’s Obi-Wan is at his most heroically audacious which is inexorably undercut by an eventual despondency in the face of his best friend’s turn to the dark side. Obi-Wan Kenobi’s character development across the trilogy is arguably stronger than any protagonist in Star Wars’ chronicles and only further proves how auspicious the decision was to cast Ewan McGregor to lead these prequels. He perfectly accentuates the Jedi to persuasively bridge the gap between Revenge of the Sith and the next movie on our list.