Being invited to mark the shared anniversary of two of the Star Wars movies by coming up with "ten things I like about the prequels" was invigorating, but also challenging. By this point my appreciation of them is pretty far-ranging; the trick was narrowing it down to a few things I could share some hopefully well-chosen words about. With thought, though, I formed a list, and then a list I could and had to pick and choose from. As I did so, I did have to face insisting it isn't a "top ten" list; to say something about the major characters might mean saying a lot, much of which may have been picked up from others. Instead, I hope this is more a personal but wide-ranging summary.
The podracer who gets a wrench thrown in his engine
I'm sure he has a name and full biography in the supplementary materials, but somehow the angry reaction of the podracer who gets a wrench thrown in his engine by Sebulba is sufficient in itself for me. The little moments and small details throughout the movies help enliven them for me.
The podrace itself
The podrace itself that little moment is part of is something I've grown to have a greater appreciation of. It points outside of Star Wars to the vistas of cinema as a whole, but it also progresses from strange and entertaining aliens through action that doesn't all have to be spelled out in dialogue to be understood into something grabbing hold of you... You could even call that an anticipation of this trilogy in microcosm.
The Naboo starfighter
An elegant weapon for a more civilized day.
There was something about an "R2 head" sticking out of the Jedi starfighter of Attack of the Clones seemingly without space for a body. Beyond that, the red and silver R4 proved a help to Obi-Wan in his own way. The way the movie developed, it might be imagined he didn't make it through it, but he did reappear at the beginning of Revenge of the Sith, now with a proper body... even if he didn't keep his head for long.
Or, a Boba Fett who actually does things. With that admitted, Jango's role in Attack of the Clones does develop his son and suggest the old tale-spinning about an implacable rivalry between him and Han Solo might well be overshadowed by an intention on targeting the last of the Jedi.
The enigma of Count Dooku
To gain insights into characters major and minor we did have to relinquish the possibility of "using our own imagination," but I would suggest there are still characters we can do that with, and one of them is the second of three different anticipations of what will become of Anakin Skywalker. We can wonder if his brief description as a "political idealist" had something to do with Dooku turning to the Dark Side, but with the turn accomplished and attachment gone reasons have burned away. This space for interpretation continues throughout the movies.
With all the dwelling on "dialogue," it was refreshing for there to be a scene which makes the point there are other aspects to movies.
"Battle of the Heroes"
I ought to mention something from the soundtracks, and this accompanies and establishes a fateful part of the saga.
Tragedy with an escape clause
Fans of many things have clamoured for unhappy endings as if demanding nothing more than a change from the usual, and yet unhappy endings for their own sake can seem unsatisfying in themselves to me. With this trilogy, though, we have characters who are imperfect yet try to do good things, until the moment those flaws are taken a little too far... and yet we already knew that wouldn't be the end.
It makes the other trilogy more satisfying, too
I was paying attention to other fans back when there were just three Star Wars movies, but even then things might not seem that pleasant around them. There was a tendency to see the movies as "the Rebellion versus the Empire," and yet there were complaints the victory there had been unsatisfying, and the only thing to do was to push the story further onward... but as more movies were added on, I began to get the feeling we were being invited to see (or even once more see) the saga as focusing on the main characters, not just the larger war, and in that tale of fall and redemption things felt complete at last.