First, a reminder of the rankings:
1. A New Hope
2. The Phantom Menace
3. Return of the Jedi
4. The Empire Strikes Back
5. Revenge of the Sith
6. Attack of the Clones
Second, if I was scoring each movie on a scale from 1.00 to 10, with 10 being the best score, all of the films would be ranked within the 9.00 to 9.99 range, with A New Hope being a 10.
One point of controversy is TPM's surprisingly high ranking at #2. I have to admit that sentimentality was a major factor in these rankings, and TPM holds a soft spot in my heart because it was my first trip back to that galaxy far, far away in 16 years, and it felt like coming home. Of the prequels, it is the one I know best and the one I've seen the most (you can thank fan fiction research for most of that). I never really dwelt on what it was like back in Obi-Wan and Anakin's years as Jedi during the break between films ('83-'99, aka. The Dark Times), so what I saw was unexplored territory for me. Qui-Gon trying to, for lack of a better term, pick the lock to the Trade Federation ship's bridge with his lightsaber sent chills up my spine, a gasp from my mouth, and applause from my hands (which sounded kind of awkward in a rather silent 9:15am showing's audience). Sure, the political issues in the middle slowed things down a lot, but that's the Bad Guy at work. I chuckled when Palpatine said, "I will be Chancellor." Oh, buddy, you'll be more than that. Obi-Wan called Anakin a "good friend" and Luke sensed "the good in him," so, unlike some fans, I was satisfied with Anakin's noble-nature in the beginning, and would have been disappointed if he had been some kid who used a magnifying class to kill ants. It was all a new part of a bigger world, and I loved it!
Now, ranking ROTJ above ESB is a slight surprise to me too, but sentimentality and my defensiveness of all things Star Wars comes into play here as well.
Jedi was my first forray into spoiler territory even before I knew they were called spoilers. A friend had bought the comic book adaptation before the movie came out (I was in 6th grade, so you can just imagine which pages got the most attention), we conspired to get the ROTJ storybook in school via those buy-from-school-pamphlet-thingies program (I think Scholastic had something to do with those; anybody else remember them?), and, of course, saw the trailer nummerous times thanks to a promotional monitor set up in our local mall for the new movie complex that was just added to it. I must have heard Admiral Ackbar declare, "It's a trap!" dozens of times before I actually saw him say it in the theaters. Even at the age of 11 I understood what GL was saying when he said that the ewoks were representative of a native population rising up against the invaders, and understood that cute and cuddly could be deceptive, what some saw as the film's biggest and most annoying fault. The Heroes were saving the day, the Villains were being defeated, and Luke became, "a Jedi, like my father before me." It had a happy ending.
The Empire Strikes Back hit this 8 year-old, impressionable child like a ton of bricks. Much like TPM, ESB was a return to the galaxy far, far away that I had fell in love with. Was it an adaption of the Marvel comics? What would happen? Sequels were a new concept for me, so I had know clue, no IDEA, that a third movie would follow. I jumped when the wampa struck Luke, laughed when Han commented on the smell of tauntauns, I gasped an "eww" (along with several other members of the audience) when we caught a glimpes of Vader's head as his helmet was being attached, I was as confused as I could get as Luke confronted Vader in the cave on Dagobah, my eyes went wide as this curious creature named Yoda lifted Luke's X-wing out of the swamp with the Force, I was terrified when Vader appeared on Bespin, even more when Vader started tortuing Han (my hero!), worse when he was frozen in carbonite! I knew Luke would save his friends, I knew it, but he couldn't!?! I had to have been on the edge of my seat as Luke and Vader battled, I cried out in horror when Vader cut off his hand, and I wanted to shout out with Luke "That's not true. That's impossible!" when Vader made his devasting revelation. The movie ended with a glimmer of hope, but I was engulfed in fear and dread. I was an emotional wreck! My dad, who took me to the movie, was probably entertained by my reaction just as much as he was by the movie! It took me a long time to recover from that film.
Many have gone on to say that ESB is the greatest SW movie ever! It's tough to argue, but when you say it's better than the original (ANH) and constantly brow-beat ROTJ and the overly-cuddly ewoks, then, fandom, I'm going to have to knock your film down a peg or two. So returning to the 1-10 scale, ESB would get something around a 9.74 and ROTJ would slip in with a 9.75.
I'm going to have to say that ROTS is one of the most neglected films in my Star Wars viewing. The sentimentality is high for this one, too. 2005 was a big year for me. I started a new career, I went to my first Celebration and met some amazing friends who I had only known online, moved across country for my first job in my new career, and, of course, saw ROTS as what I thought at the time was the end of an era. Who could forget Anakin and Obi-Wan swooping in to join the Battle of Coruscant (which ranks up there with the blockade-runner/star destroyer intro in ANH as one of the best intros of the series)? Obi-Wan's glib, "Hello there." General Grievous and his weilding of 4 lightsabers? Anakin's slow, then sudden fall to the dark side? The wizard battle in the senate? The birth order of the twins? The setting of the twin suns? It was all... over. The circle was complete.
Then there is Attack of the Clones.
This, dear internet, is how we fell in love. We may have met back in '96 when word of the Special Editions came out, but AOTC is where the love affair truly blossomed and affected/effected my life in the real world. I had no idea that joining the fan fiction boards at theforce.net would change my life so much. Because of this film, and my eagerness to share my fan fic inspired by it, I've been to two Celebrations in places I probably wouldn't have gone to normally, traveled to England to meet an internet-friend there, traveled to Michigan for an internet-friend's wedding, enjoyed a hockey game in Phoenix, Arizona with another internet-friend, and so much more! AOTC was, quite possibly, the one SW film that had the most influence on my life outside of ANH.
And so here we are. The wind my blow in another direction tomorrow, causing the rankings to change again, but that's where things stand right now.