The James Bond film franchise has been around since 1962. In that time, there have been 24 James Bond movies with the next installment, No Time to Die, scheduled for release later this year. A franchise that’s almost 60 years old and has 24 films can be pretty daunting, especially since the films are pretty much all standalone adventures. Tackling them chronologically won’t really give you any advantage, and one of the harder truths of this series is that a lot of the Bond films aren’t very good whether due to being a product of their age or sloppy screenwriting or both. There’s usually at least one or two redeemable aspects to even the worst Bond movies, but it’s not typically worth sitting through Moonraker or Octopussy to find out what those are.
With limited time and/or a lack of desire to put yourself through the more grueling entries in the series, which are the essential Bond movies? Which ones give you the best sense of each actor’s tenure as Bond and the franchise as a whole? After watching every movie in the franchise, I’ve listed the seven essential James Bond movies. I’d recommend watching them in chronological order to see how the series evolved over the decades, but it’s not mandatory since Bond movies typically standalone, and none of these film’s plots are connected. While some may argue against particular omissions, I’ve tried to keep this limited so it’s useful to newcomers who want to understand Bond but only want the essentials.