We're now less than two weeks out from the conclusion of the nine-part Star Wars Skywalker Saga, as J.J. Abrams' Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker hits theaters on December 20.The final chapter, which will include all the music from previous Star Wars films, the Knights of Ren, and the return of Palpatine, will bring home a decades-running story that began back in 1977 with George Lucas' first Star Wars film. To celebrate this monumental moment of closure, we've painstakingly sorted through all the previous Star Wars live-action films, including Rogue One and Solo, to bring you the 10 best moments from this soaring space opera.From confessions of love to admissions of paternity, from one-in-a-million shots to epic lightsaber encounters, here are the Top 10 Star Wars Movie Moments…
10. Vader's Rampage (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story)
This brutal bridging scene, connecting Rogue One directly to the start of A New Hope, quickly showed Vader carving his way through a canal of rebels, desperate to get his hands on the stolen Dearth Star schematics. He chokes, chops, and slices away at a hallway of soldiers, demonically demonstrating the full breadth of his powers as a Sith Lord. The plans get away from him, but not before he rolls out a rancorous massacre.
9. Rey and Kylo Ren vs. the Praetorian Guards (The Last Jedi)
Rey and Kylo Ren's burgeoning bond reached a violent crescendo in Last Jedi after Kylo decided to kill his present along with his past, saved Rey from Snoke, and set off a savage scrap with Snoke's elite guard unit. Instead of squaring off against each other, the two teamed up to take down eight exemplary fighters, proving that while Rey may have rejected Kylo's offer to partner up permanently, these two still shared a crucial connection.
8. Leia Kills Jabba (Return of the Jedi)
While Leia's first act of awesomeness in Return of the Jedi is often obfuscated by Carrie Fisher having to wear that unnecessary gold undergarment as an outer garment, never forget that she walked into a lion's den dressed like a bounty hunter and rescued her love, only to later strangle Jabba to death with her own slave chain. That's full-on ruthless murder of a giant alien crime boss. All in an afternoon's work for Leia "Huttcracker" Organa.
7. Obi-Wan’s Death (A New Hope)
"If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine."Obi-Wan's death — AKA his sweet sacrificial succumbing to the cosmic ether — was the master lightsaber stroke that closed out the second act of A New Hope. Old Ben's vanishing act seemingly left Luke without a North Star as he barreled into a near-impossible mission to topple the Empire's moon-sized mega-weapon. But there was more to Master Kenobi's puzzling demise than met the eye, as the old hermit's Force Ghost would guide Luke, and the rebellion, to victory.
6. The First Death Star Explosion (A New Hope)
"Great shot, kid! That was one in a million."The final payoff of Luke's harrowing, heated trench run on the Death Star — following the save by Han Solo and using the Force to land a blast into the exhaust port (thanks, Galen Erso!) — was a momentous, historic "BOOM!" that brought audiences around the world to their feet back in 1977. Certain Scrooges will forever lecture you about how this type of explosion couldn't happen in space, but that's okay because you continue to remind them that you don't care because this moment freakin' ruled.
5. Vader's Turn Against the Emperor (Return of the Jedi)
Return of the Jedi's twist, involving Leia being Luke's secret twin sister, may not have topped the Vader reveal in Empire, but Vader's babyface turn at the end of the film, redeeming him for decades of devious Dark Side dipsh**tery, brought the original trilogy full circle with a satisfying save. With Luke down for the count, Vader's inner rage blossomed into love, his heart un-Grinched, and he sacrificed himself by taking out his malicious mentor. With Vader's already-failing body being flooded by Palpatine's Force lightning, we knew balance was finally being brought to the galaxy.
4. The Start of the "Duel of the Fates" (The Phantom Menace)
Since we’re not ranking lightsaber duels on this list, and since “Duel of the Fates” is an extended sequence that is much more than a “moment,” let’s zero in our favorite part of this scene: the opening, where the three-way lightsaber dance between Darth Maul, Qui-Gon Jinn, and Obi-Wan Kenobi began. While debates continue, two decades later, over the merits of the prequels, fans will always unanimously laud and applaud this three-way dance/lightsaber duel. Not only was John Williams' new track an instant, goosebump-inducing classic but this was the first time we got to see a lightsaber battle with meticulous, martial arts-based choreography. It was super intense and badass in a movie that lacked a lot of intense, badass moments.
3. "I Love You…" (The Empire Strikes Back)
This meaningful moment, when the fiery leader of an entire rebellion professed her love for a (debatably) scruffy-looking nerf herder, melted all our hearts — right before our hearts were placed in deep freeze. Yes, Empire ended with several cliffhangers, but rescuing Han and reuniting him with Leia was absolutely paramount. And their final words to each other, right before the carbonite came in and crushed our souls, still spawns endless relationship merchandise today.
2. Binary Sunset (A New Hope)
As the French horns swelled in John Williams' "Binary Sunset," our hearts filled with endless hope and eager anticipation as Luke's hero's journey began. The young Skywalker is at a crossroads represented by the two suns setting, stay home on the farm or strike out into the galaxy on a different path he knows deep down he's destined for.
1. "I Am Your Father" (The Empire Strikes Back)
Not only did this stunning Star Wars scene from Empire floor an entire generation of fans, but it still stands as one of the biggest "Holy S***!" twists in all of movie history. Final reel reveals weren't a huge thing back in 1980 and no one expected to leave the theater feeling as lost and forlorn as Luke. No, our hands hadn't been sliced off, but our entire worldview had been shattered after learning that the galaxy's biggest threat was Luke's dear old dad. And that Ben Kenobi was a liar (from any point of view).
What are your favorite Star Wars movie moments? Let's discuss in the comments!
Matt Fowler is a writer for IGN and a member of the Television Critics Association. Follow him on Twitter at @TheMattFowler and Facebook at Facebook.com/MattBFowler.