5 Theories on the Best Order to Watch the Star Wars Movies

Star Wars © & TM 2015 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
Star Wars © & TM 2015 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

The Star Wars saga is 40 years old, and doesn’t show any signs of stopping. With the eighth entry in the series, The Last Jedi, slated to hit theaters later this year (and more Star Wars movies every year until forever), it's easy to only be interested in what’s next. But newbies have to start somewhere, which begs the question: What's the best order to watch the Star Wars movies?

In case you need a super fan’s take on some options, here are five ways to consider watching the saga.

1. EPISODE ORDER

I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VIII

Perhaps the least favorite order among most Star Wars fans is the go-to sequence for the guy who started it all. “Start with one. That’s the way to do it right: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6,” George Lucas told Vulture in 2015. “That’s the way they’re supposed to be done.”


Star Wars © & TM 2015 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

Well, just because that’s the way it’s supposedly supposed to be done doesn’t mean you should do it that way. If you start with Episode I, Vader’s big I-am-your-father reveal in The Empire Strikes Back (arguably one of the biggest twists in movie history) turns out to be old news. The prequel plotlines assume everyone knows that Anakin turns into Darth Vader, so it’s one big anticlimax. On top of that, you have to slog through the prequels before you get to the real good stuff. But if you’re still into what Lucas has to say, then give the chronological order a whirl.

2. THE ROGUE ONE ORDER

R1, IV, V, I, II, III, VI, VII

Now that the saga is spinning off into a handful of different one-offs and character-based prequels, any particular order to watch the Star Wars movies will eventually be entirely subjective. But since Rogue One is so closely tied to the primary saga’s Death Star story, Reddit threads and Star Wars fan sites have declared it the best way to initially dive into the multifaceted universe regardless of any future standalone movies. Plus, if you use the Rogue One Order and take a quick post-Empire pause to flashback to The Phantom Menace, it keeps the Skywalker lineage surprises—with Vader and Leia—intact.

3. THE TIME MACHINE ORDER

IV*, V*, VI*, I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX

This one is for diehards only, mostly because it’s basically impossible to replicate.

Now-out-of-print theatrical cuts of the Original Trilogy haven’t been re-released since 2006, and Disney hasn’t made any indication that they’ll see the light of day going forward. But if you get your hands on something like the Despecialized Editions—painstaking bootleg reconstructions of the original films—the so-called Time Machine Order puts you back as a viewer in 1977 to discover the magic all over again.


Star Wars © & TM 2015 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

First you watch the theatrical cuts of the Original Trilogy without all the Special Edition tweaks from the '90s (bad CGI Jabba, anyone?) and no Hayden Christensen showing up at the end of Return of the Jedi. Then you shift to the prequels and deal with all that before heading back to the Special Editions and the new Sequel Trilogy and beyond, starting with The Force Awakens. It’s the complete Star Wars package.

4. THE THEATRICAL RELEASE ORDER

IV, V, VI, I, II, III, VII, VIII, IX

The most obvious and easy way to experience the saga is also the most pure—warts and all. Even if the only officially released versions have the Special Edition add-ons (Greedo still shoots first), there’s nothing like kicking off the saga with A New Hope, dipping into qualitative depression with the prequels, and rocketing back into gear with The Force Awakens like the Millennium Falcon jumping into hyperspace.

5. THE MACHETE ORDER

IV, V, II, III, VI, VII, VIII, IX

First proposed by computer software blogger Rod Hilton in 2011, the Machete Order has taken on legendary status among Star Wars fans because the sequence drops enough of the bad stuff in the saga while amplifying the good stuff. You gotta take a little Dark Side with the Light Side, after all.


Star Wars © & TM 2015 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

The Machete Order refocuses the broad space opera story by focusing the movie structure on Luke, and skips over The Phantom Menace altogether, tucking Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith after The Empire Strikes Back. Sorry, Darth Maul fans, you’re out of luck—but there’s little-to-no Jar Jar Binks in this sequence, and it cuts out the whiny version of little Anakin that basically undermines the fact that he’s going to become the galaxy’s most feared villain. If you want a full story that befits the adventurous wonder of the galaxy far, far away, then the Machete Order is the best viewing experience.

8 Sequels That Received Oscar Nominations for Best Picture

Jasin Boland, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
Jasin Boland, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

It’s rare when a movie sequel manages to stand up to the original entry in a film series. Even rarer? When a sequel is so good that it nabs an Oscars nomination for Best Picture. Here are eight movies that did just that.

1. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

When Mad Max: Fury Road was released in theaters in 2015, no one thought that it would be a critical darling—or an awards contender . But when the Academy Award nominations were announced in 2016, the latest entry in George Miller’s Mad Max franchise earned a whopping 10 nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director. Fury Road is the fourth installment in the series and was the first to hit theaters in 30 years (since the release of 1985’s Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome). It’s also the first movie in the franchise to receive any recognition from the Academy.

2. Toy Story 3 (2010)

A still from 'Toy Story 3' (2010)
Disney/Pixar

In 2011, Toy Story 3 was nominated for five Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Animated Feature. Though The King’s Speech ended up taking the night’s top prize, Toy Story 3 (which was named Best Animated Feature) made history that night, as it was the third ever animated movie to score a Best Picture nod; 1991’s Beauty and the Beast and 2009’s Up are the other two films to earn the same accolade.

3. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

Although the first two installments in The Lord of the Rings trilogy—2001’s The Fellowship of the Ring and 2002’s The Two Towers—were each nominated for Best Picture, it was the final movie that ended up winning the Academy Award in 2004. In fact, The Return of the King won 11 Oscars that year, sweeping every category in which it was nominated, and tying Ben-Hur and Titanic for the most awards received in one night.

4. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)

In 2003, The Two Towers won two of the six Oscars for which it was nominated, for Best Sound Editing and Best Visual Effects. Rob Marshall’s musical Chicago beat it out for Best Picture.  

5. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter in 'The Silence of the Lambs' (1991)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

In 1992, The Silence of the Lambs made a clean sweep of the “Big Five” categories: Best Picture, Best Director for Jonathan Demme, Best Actor for Sir Anthony Hopkins, Best Actress for Jodie Foster, and Best Adapted Screenplay for Ted Tally. Although The Silence of the Lambs isn’t a direct sequel to Michael Mann’s 1986 film Manhunter, it’s based on the sequel novel to author Thomas Harris’s Red Dragon, on which Manhunter was based. It also features the character Hannibal Lecter in a major role, who was played by Brian Cox in Manhunter—before Hopkins made the role his own. Got that?

6. The Godfather: Part III (1990)

Though it’s often considered the far inferior film in The Godfather trilogy, The Godfather: Part III received seven Academy Award nominations in 1991, including Best Picture and Best Director for Francis Ford Coppola. Ultimately, it lost to Kevin Costner’s Dances with Wolves, making it the only installment in The Godfather Saga not to win a Best Picture Oscar.

7. The Godfather: Part II (1974)

Al Pacino in 'The Godfather: Part II' (1974)
Paramount Pictures

In 1975, The Godfather: Part II became the first sequel in Oscar history to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. It won the coveted award two years after the original film was named Best Picture. The sequel was nominated for a total of 11 Oscars, with three separate nominations in the Best Supporting Actor category alone: one for Michael Vincenzo Gazzo (who played Frankie Pentangeli) and Lee Strasberg (as Hyman Roth), and one for Robert De Niro, who took home the statuette for playing the younger version of Vito Corleone.

8. The Bells of St. Mary's (1945)

Though it lost Best Picture to Billy Wilder’s The Lost Weekend at the 1946 Oscars, The Bells of St. Mary’s is the first movie sequel to be nominated for the Academy’s biggest prize. The film is a sequel to Leo McCarey’s previous film, 1944’s Going My Way, which won the Oscar for Best Picture a year earlier. While Going My Way and The Bells of St. Mary’s feature different stories and casts, Bing Crosby stars in both movies as Father Chuck O'Malley.

An earlier version of this article ran in 2016.

James Cameron Directed Entourage's Aquaman, But He Could Never Direct the Real One

Tommaso Boddi, Getty Images for AMC
Tommaso Boddi, Getty Images for AMC

Oscar-winning director James Cameron is no stranger to CGI. With movies like Avatar under his belt, you’d expect Cameron to find a particular sort of enjoyment in special effects-heavy movies like James Wan's Aquaman. But Cameron—who directed the fictional version of Aquaman featuring fictional movie star Vinnie Chase in the very real HBO series Entourage—has a little trouble with suspension of disbelief.

In a recent interview with Yahoo!, Cameron said that while he did enjoy Aquaman, he would never have been able to direct the movie itself because of its lack of realism.

"I think it’s great fun,” Cameron said. “I never could have made that film, because it requires this kind of total dreamlike disconnection from any sense of physics or reality. People just kind of zoom around underwater, because they propel themselves mentally, I guess, I don’t know. But it’s cool! You buy it on its own terms.”

"I’ve spent thousands of hours underwater," the Titanic director went on to say. "While I can enjoy that film, I don’t resonate with it because it doesn’t look real.”

While Aquaman was shot on a soundstage, Cameron will be employing state-of-the-art technology that will allow him to actually be underwater while shooting underwater scenes for his upcoming Avatar sequels.

[h/t Yahoo!]

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