9. Rogue One
10. My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2
Rogue One was directed by Gareth Edwards and was the first standalone Star Wars film Disney has released since adding the Star Wars rights to their gluttonous pile of money making machines. Going into the film, the general population knew that Disney could handle Star Wars, The Force Awakens was a triumphant return for many fans. But it was our first time in the galaxy far far away without any beloved faces – no Han, no Leia, no constant whining Luke. There were a few scenes with everyone’s favorite Darth, but for the most part, Disney had the challenging job of taking a precious framework with a rabid fanbase and construct an entirely new story to fit within that framework as well as produce characters who could stand on their own and win our hearts.
They were highly successful.
Jyn Erso is the daughter of a brilliant scientist. He’s taken by the Empire (and also has his wife killed to fulfill that tired old trope) to make a super weapon (enter Death Star) and Jyn is placed into the somewhat dubious care of a Rebel extremist named Saw. Years later, Jyn has forged her own rebellious identity and is a criminal who has been captured by the Empire. Rescued by the dashing Rebel officer Cassian Andor, she somewhat begrudgingly joins their cause with the sub-mission of her own to find her father. Along with Andor’s acerbic droid K2S0, and a few oddball crewmates they pick up along the way, Jyn and Andor are tasked with destroying the Death Star or gaining the plans which will reveal a way to destroy it. (Remember the beginning of a New Hope? Those plans Senator Organa put into that little droid?)
I had my suspicions on how this film would turn out as soon as I saw the premise – the lead into a New Hope. And I’ll do my best to remain spoiler free here. But Disney and Edwards did a fantastic job keeping the action running as well as bringing home just how desperate a situation this galaxy is in. A corrupt and all-powerful empire who seems to stamp down its constituents, I mean people, at every turn and only cares for more power for themselves. A band of women, deserters, and minorities who are fighting not only for their own freedom but for the freedom of their entire galaxy. And the crushing cost at which it comes. It changes the tone of the entire series, the entire Star Wars universe. Maybe because of the political landscape in the US today, or maybe because I’m an adult watching these instead of a kid. But either way, Rogue One earned its place in the pantheon of Star Wars films, cementing Jyn, Cassian, K2S0, Saw, Bodhi, Baze and Chirrut as heroes of the Rebellion just as much as Solo, Organa, and Skywalker.