For the obsessives, Star Wars has spent more than 40 years providing stunning visuals. Whether it’s the iconic single images or operatic space battles in motion, there are few franchises that have provided stimulation quite like the one George Lucas birthed in 1977. The film’s impact beyond its own imagery is also something worthy of celebration, as the success of Star Wars led Lucas to the formation of Lucasfilm and Industrial Light & Magic, two companies that have provided film nerds with countless brilliant and thrilling moments.
When it comes to choosing the Perfect Shots of the Star Wars franchise, there is always going to be a fierce debate. What weight do we give shots created in the digital space vs. the ones created in-camera? Do we consider a shot’s iconography or history, even if its composition isn’t better than another shot? Do we punish the Prequels because they will long be remembered as the lesser portions of the Saga? Do we restrain ourselves from including too many shots from the sequel trilogy, Rogue One, Solo, and The Mandalorian, because of their technical advantage?
These are the debates we love to have internally and with all of you, our readers. Our hope is that this ranked list of the 50 Most Beautiful Shots, freshly updated for #MayThe4th 2021, is representative of many schools of thought. Composition certainly matters, but so does iconography. The Perfect Shot is as much about a beautifully composed frame as it is about how an individual shot makes us feel. The most perfect shots accomplish both, holding up in a vacuum while also transporting us back to our most honored experiences.
For your consideration, here is the list of our 50 favorite Star Wars shots from the 11 live-action films and one TV show.
50. Solo – dir. Ron Howard, DP Bradford Young
49. Attack of the Clones – dir. George Lucas, DP David Tattersall
48. Return of the Jedi – dir. Richard Marquand, DP Alan Hume
47. The Mandalorian (“Sanctuary”) – dir. Bryce Dallas Howard, DP Baz Idoine
46. The Force Awakens – dir. J.J. Abrams, DP Dan Mindel
45. The Rise of Skywalker – dir. J.J. Abrams, DP Daniel Mindel
44. The Empire Strikes Back – dir. Irvin Kershner, DP Peter Suschitzsky
43. Attack of the Clones – dir. George Lucas, DP David Tattersall
42. The Last Jedi – dir. Rian Johnson, DP Steve Yedlin
41. Solo – dir. Ron Howard, DP Bradford Young