Get Your Reps In: James Bond Edition

The Academy is bringing a Bond bonanza to the big screen this December.

From Russia With Love (1963)

In his second outing as James Bond, Sir Sean Connery fends off a helicopter, rats, boats and a buff, blond Robert Shaw (their showdown on the Orient Express is one of the most ferocious sequences of hand-to-hand combat in cinematic history). Some scenes drag, but the film is far livelier than Goldfinger (1964). Plus, Connery is at his smug, swaggering best, having not yet succumbed to the ennui of You Only Live Twice (1967) or the self-parodying kitsch of Diamonds Are Forever (1971). Academy, Dec. 2-8.

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)

To borrow a phrase of film critic Owen Gleiberman, this is the BBME (Best. Bond. Movie. Ever). On his one and only adventure as 007, George Lazenby infiltrates the snow-capped, mountaintop lair where Blofeld (Telly Savalas) reigns, but the star attractions are exuberantly suspenseful ski chases and Diana Rigg’s haughty and soulful performance as Teresa di Vicenzo, the daring countess who becomes the love of Bond’s life. The film’s many fans include Christopher Nolan, who paid tribute to its icy action and lush romanticism with Inception (2010). Academy, Dec. 9-15.

License to Kill (1989)

If you don’t think Bond should feed a corrupt DEA agent to a shark, kill a drug kingpin with a flamethrower, or romance secret agents with fashionably short hair, then this is definitely not the 007 movie for you. If, however, you enjoy seeing the Bond playbook gleefully immolated, you’ll get a kick out of License to Kill, which violently (and entertainingly) casts aside the lovably clownish theatrics of the Sir Roger Moore era. The climactic tanker chase on a twisting desert highway is one of the series’ greatest action scenes—and with his final performance as Bond, Timothy Dalton brought fierce cunning and wrath to the character that has never been matched. Academy, Dec. 16-22.

GoldenEye (1995)

Fans of Pierce Brosnan’s Bond (who are known as the “Brozza Brigade” on social media) are ferociously loyal—so loyal that they can even find things to love in Die Another Day (2002), which brought the series to a bludgeoning low with a car chase through a melting ice palace. More casual fans should skip his later Bond films and stick with GoldenEye, which features a savvy love interest (Izabella Scorupco), lip-smacking villains (Sean Bean, Famke Janssen), and a flamboyant St. Petersburg tank battle that includes some highly entertaining product placement for sparkling water. Academy, Dec. 23-29.