2) 2012’s Skyfall
Skyfall is like a love letter to James Bond fans. It’s a reminder of why all of us fell in love with the dashing spy in the first place. More often than not, love letters can’t compete with the better entries in a series because they’re too obsessed with pleasing everyone by shoehorning in references, but Skyfall is so expertly crafted, it just works the elements into the basic plot or subtly winks at them. From classic cars to gambling scenes to exotic animal attacks, it touches all its bases, and thanks to arguably the best Bond villain ever, it’s riveting.

Most of us love the larger than life supervillains of the early Bond movies. We love Blofeld and Jaws and May Day because they’re so deliciously over the top. Javier Bardem’s Raoul Silva is proof that villain can exist and can work in the world we live in today. Flamboyant, sociopathic and goddamn brilliant, he’s a perfect foil for Bond, and he owns every single scene he’s in. You can’t take your eyes off of him, and he’ll surely go down as one of the all-time greats.

Skyfall also does a very effective job of pushing the Bond legacy forward. It introduces some new characters, reintroduces some old characters and takes time to explore Bond’s history—without every appearing to try to hard. Director Sam Mendes clearly has a great appreciation for the material, and wherever the franchise goes from here, it can certainly be said he left it in far better condition than he found it in.

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