To celebrate Twilight ’s 15th anniversary, let’s list all the movies in the iconic fantasy romance series, ranked from worst to best.
I saw a tweet today that listed a bunch of franchises reportedly getting reboots soon. Listed among the typical suspects, much to my surprise, was Twilight, the vampire-werewolf romance series that took audiences by storm in the late 2000s and early 2010s. Perhaps it’s inevitable that something as big as Twilight was always going to get rebooted eventually, but I just can’t imagine how they could ever recapture what makes this original set of films so compelling and interesting to watch. They’re flawed, for sure, but there’s also nothing quite like them. It’s easy to be cynical and make fun of their obvious shortcomings, but when you actually sit down and watch them, there is something strangely endearing about all of its quirks. So, to celebrate its 15th anniversary, here is my list of every Twilight film, ranked from worst to best.
5. The Twilight Saga: New Moon
Director: Chris Weitz
There’s a good chance that I’ll lose half of you straight away with this justification, but my disdain for the franchise’s second entry, The Twilight Saga: New Moon, can be summarised quite simply: I just don’t like Jacob (Taylor Lautner). I find him to be a near-constant irritant, one that the series can never seem to figure out what to do with. He’s either always whining about how Bella (Kristen Stewart) doesn’t love him enough, or sulking because, again, Bella just doesn’t love him enough. New Moon is essentially 2 hours of just this, as the vastly superior and far more entertaining Edward (Robert Pattinson) takes a back seat for the majority of the film, with the narrative instead focusing on developing Bella and Jacob’s relationship. An admirable goal, sure, but a very misguided one, resulting in a film that’s forever shifting between being a boring slog and the most annoying thing I’ve ever had to sit through.
4. The Twilight Saga: Eclipse
Director: David Slade
Potentially the most forgettable entry in the franchise, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse definitely suffers from being the middle child, lacking both the bold swings seen in its sequels as well as the consistently baffling direction that makes the first film so entertaining despite its obvious flaws. What it does have though is significantly more Edward than New Moon, which is only ever a good thing.
Robert Pattinson’s performance, intentionally or not, does wonders for the tone of these films, making this a far more enjoyable watch than New Moon, which was far too bogged down by the self-serious nature of Jacob’s character. With the screen time more evenly split, Eclipse has more freedom to actually embrace the goofiness of the premise that makes the first film fun. Still far too long though, I have no idea why exactly these films need to clock in at 2 hours.
3. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2
Director: Bill Condon
Final chapters are an easy thing to get wrong, but lo and behold, Twilight actually manages to pull off a pretty enjoyable one. There’s a chunk in the middle that I could do without, and I think this does prove my theory that all of the vampire-werewolf mythology is by a mile the least interesting part of this franchise, but anything revolving around Bella’s transformation into a vampire is some of the most entertaining and interesting stuff this franchise has to offer. Kristen Stewart seems to be having the most fun here out of all of the films, and as a result we get some of the funniest lines that cinema has ever given us. On top of all this, it features an end credits sequence that is actually moving and almost got a tear out of me. It’s not perfect by any means, but for a franchise this unique and unusual, it might just be the best possible conclusion.
Director: Catherine Hardwicke
There are two things that help make the original Twilight film work. The first is Robert Pattinson’s absurd performance as the hottest vampire to ever grace the big screen, which is so nonsensical and goofy that I’m convinced that he knew exactly what he was doing, and the second is Catherine Hardwicke’s direction, which gives us such wonderful scenes as the baseball sequence, which almost single handedly justifies this entire franchise existing. Yes, there are plenty of perfectly valid reasons why someone might not like the very specific wavelength that Twilight is on, but it’s so easy to see why this caught the attention of so many when it originally hit cinemas. Simply put, I’m not sure there’s any other film quite like it, and I strongly suspect that there never will be.
1. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1
Director: Bill Condon
I’m not sure how much of a hot take this is, but for me, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 is easily the best Twilight film, almost entirely down to the fact that it knows how to play to the franchise’s strengths. In the previous films, I often found myself not completely convinced by Kristen Stewart’s lead performance, but here, her subdued take on the character works wonders, as Bella being on her last legs for the majority of the narrative means that what Stewart’s already been doing now fits perfectly. Jacob is also easily at his least annoying, as he is actually given an interesting moral dilemma to struggle with that isn’t just whether or not Bella loves him. It adds a whole different layer to this character that is actually quite compelling to watch, even if I don’t love how it concludes.
For me, Twilight as a franchise often feels like its focus is in the wrong place, tackling these grand ideas that I have no interest in whilst consistently ignoring far more intriguing concepts. So, in Breaking Dawn – Part 1, it’s great to see the series actually wrestle with a pretty complicated issue, namely whether or not Bella should go ahead with the birth of her child, one who could potentially cause the apocalypse. Yes, the film doesn’t go as in depth as I would have ideally liked, but as far as Twilight films go, this is easily the most thematically rich, grounding its fantastical mythology in something human. Whilst I don’t know many mothers who have had to consider the fact that their child could destroy the world, the dilemma of whether or not to keep a child who might be born into less than desirable circumstances is a very real debate.
On top of all of that, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 features a gorgeous wedding scene and a pretty great soundtrack that helps the whole thing flow tremendously well. It’s all of the greatest aspects of Twilight at their very best, and easily the most interesting examination of this world that we’ve gotten. It may not be the campiest or the most insane, but when all is said and done, it’s the one I think about the most in a positive light, which in my mind, easily makes it the best Twilight film.
All Twilight movies are now available to watch on digital and on demand. Get the complete Twilight saga: