This week, in anticipation of “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” which opened on December 16, we asked our readers to name their favorite film in the “Star Wars” franchise thus far, and the results were decisive. “The Empire Strikes Back” (1980), the second film in the franchise but the fifth in the “Star Wars” timeline, was the top choice of an overwhelming 59% of poll respondents.
“Empire” has widely been considered by film lovers as the high water mark of the “Star Wars” canon, thanks to its darker subject matter and its introduction of iconic characters like Yoda (voiced by Frank Oz), Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams) and the bounty hunter Boba Fett (Jeremy Bolloch). What’s more, it executed one of the most famous surprise reveals of film history: that intergalactic overlord Darth Vader was the father of hero Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill).
Despite its widespread adoration, however, “Empire” only earned three Oscar nominations: Best Art Direction, Best Sound and Best Score. It won Best Sound along with a special achievement award for its visual effects. That was far below the 10 nominations and six victories (plus a special achievement award for sound effects) bestowed on the original “Star Wars” in 1977.
That 1977 film, retroactively known as “Episode IV – A New Hope,” was a distant second in our reader poll with 17% of votes, while the conclusion of the original trilogy, “Return of the Jedi” (1983) was next in line with 9%. Close behind in fourth place with 8% was 2015’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” the long awaited return of the franchise and the first produced by Walt Disney after creator George Lucas sold the rights to the Mouse House.
That didn’t leave much for the infamous prequels. “The Phantom Menace” (1999), “Attack of the Clones” (2002) and “Revenge of the Sith” (2005) were widely maligned at the time of their release, and it appears they haven’t aged well either. Combined, those three films received just 7% of the vote: 6% for “Revenge of the Sith” and 1% for “The Phantom Menace” — literally nobody liked “Attack of the Clones,” which rounds out our list with 0%.