There aren’t many franchises quite like Harry Potter – its fantasy elements and “chosen one” trope have been done countless times, but somehow J. K. Rowling’s Wizarding World has evolved into something of a sensation. Every kid has wanted to be a wizard at some point, and it was these films (and the excellent books) that inspired us all to pick up a stick and cast all sorts of mischievous spells on our friends.
Like all franchises, some of the entries are a step above the others (oh boy, do I have a few questionable opinions in this one …). How would I rank all the Harry Potter films? Oh, and the “Fantastic Beasts” films can be thrown in too, why not.
I’ve linked some of my other lists below:
10 – Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
I remember the first Fantastic Beasts film won over the hearts of the world yet again, so I like many others were eagerly anticipating the follow-up. What we ended up getting was … well, it was something.
At the end of the day, it was the horrendous story that let this one down. The acting, set-pieces and visuals were still good, but none of it mattered. The twist ending was insulting, none of the set-pieces were that exciting, and what happened to the titular “fantastic beasts”? Where did they go? Definitely a film I’m not planning on revisiting.
9 – Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets
Easily the most forgettable film from the main series, and there are a couple of issues I have with this one.
The main problem is how dull the whole thing is, and controversial opinion – the child acting still isn’t very good. Not as offensive as Crimes of Grindelwald, but not great.
8 – Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone
I think a lot of people are going to be shocked to see the original film this low, but I don’t hold it in as high of a regard as most Potter fans.
Like with “Chamber of Secrets”, I find the child acting to be sub-par and cringey, and the final confrontation is a bit anti-climactic (the lead-up is good, but I would have wanted a show-stopper of a finale). I can’t deny the incredible world-building on display here, though, and this film expertly set the foundations for every aspect of the Wizarding World to come.
7 – Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows: Part 1
This film started the stupid trend of film franchise finales being split into two films, and whilst this is probably the best split finale of the bunch (other than Infinity War / Endgame) I still find this movie to be wholly unnecessary.
If they could have somehow fit parts 1 and 2 into one longer movie, that would have been better – the actual horcrux bit of this is good, but the rest is just filler acting (decent acting though) leading up to each horcrux confrontation. Still, this is a fun watch in relation to the rest of the franchise and the story at large.
6 – Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Excitement was at its peak when they announced we would be returning to the Wizarding World, and what we got was a fun adventure that set up a new franchise nicely.
I like the introduction to various magical beasts, and Newt Scamander is an excellent lead character. In hindsight, this isn’t the greatest movie in the franchise, but I would definitely revisit this fun romp on a rainy day.
5 – Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire
In terms of the actual plot (a wizarding tournament with 3 devilishly tricky stages), this should have been a top 3 film. “Goblet of Fire” has its issues, and most of them actually stem from the actual source material.
Mad-Eye Moody gets some excellent characterisation in this film, but it all gets washed away when it’s revealed it isn’t actually him, but David Tennant secretly disguised as him. This makes Moody’s character completely irrelevant in later films, and this Moody-in-disguise revelation makes us question the villain’s motive (what was the point in making Harry take part in the tournament? There must have been an easier way to enact the plot).
If you ignore the plot holes, this is a great Potter film with lots of wizarding fun to be had. Also, Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort makes for one of the most imposing film baddies ever, and I love every second of his performance in all of these movies.
4 – Harry Potter and The Order of The Phoenix
Is it just me, or was this when shit started to get real?
We get a very different antagonist in this one – the Government itself, with the delightfully despicable Umbridge taking centre stage. The darker tone works perfectly with the aging cast, and I find the story of the secret magic school and the titular Order of the Phoenix to be enthralling.
Spoiler alert for the ending of this film, but the last act has two outstanding moments – Sirius’s death and Voldemort’s battle with Dumbledore, the latter of which is probably the best wizarding duel in the entire series. A really great film all round.
3 – Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince
Like the film before it, “Half Blood Prince” takes the darker tone and rolls with it.
There’s definitely an argument to be made that not enough happens in this film to get it so high on the list, but there are too many good moments to keep it down: Snape’s private lessons with Harry, Dumbledore’s agonising battle against the horcrux, and Malfoy’s betrayal. After the credits rolled, I was so excited to see how “Deathly Hallows” would resolve everything, and I think this film does an excellent job propelling the story onwards.
2 – Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban
THIS was when the Potter films started getting good.
I don’t know what they fed the kids on set, but some reason the acting is bearable now, and the story is the best its ever been – Lupin as the Dark Arts professor is amazing, and Sirius Black seems to be a substantial threat to Harry and the gang.
The time turner stuff can get a bit messy if you think about it too much, but its done in a very clever way, so I’ll allow it. I wouldn’t be surprised if most people had this at number 1 – this is the most solid, most meticulously crafted film in the entire franchise and it deserves all the praise that it gets.
1 – Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows: Part 2
This may not have the tight script of “Prisoner of Azkaban” or the best duels of “Order of the Phoenix”, but the emotional stakes were incredible.
This film never lets you forget that the whole saga has come down to this, and my goodness did it deliver. The action is phenomenal, the cast have grown into exceptional actors, and the story of Snape hits an emotional core that I didn’t think the Potter franchise could manage. It’s not easy pulling off a perfect finale, but this film does just that.
Aaaand that’s my list. You can check out some of my latest blog posts below:
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