The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
The Harry Potter series has been a huge cultural phenomenon for over two decades. The original seven novels amassed a large and strong fanbase that has continued well past their prime into the 2020s. The eight films are especially important adaptations to fans of the novels, including me. Harry Potter was the first series I really became attached to as a child, and this attachment never stopped into my budding years of adulthood. I grew up a huge fan of the movies, and they are still some of my favorite movies to date. I feel safe between the pages of a Harry Potter novel, and the characters are some of my all-time favorites. My first tattoo was even Harry Potter-themed! Join me down memory lane as I rank all the Harry Potter movies, from a die-hard fan’s perspective.
8. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is the weakest film in the series, in my opinion. Firstly, can we turn a light on?! The movie is extremely dark, not only content-wise but physically. The development of the characters comes to a bit of a standstill, and the introduction of Harry and Ginny’s romance is painfully awkward! This movie is of great importance to the overall story, but it isn’t the most interesting leading up to those points.
7. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
This film is the second and final Chris Columbus adaptation of the franchise, and it is just as whimsical and dreamy as the first. An albeit darker story than its predecessor, it is still setting up the viewer with the magic and excitement that Hogwarts has to offer. It has two great plot twists which introduce the mysteries of the series well- both Gilderoy Lockhart’s fraudulent life stories and Ginny Weasley opening the Chamber of Secrets, however, I feel as though the other movies in the series are stronger in terms of filmmaking and character development.
6. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
The first film of the series will forever be iconic: the theme music, the first look at Hogwarts, and the backstory for our beloved main character. This film was directed by Chris Columbus and as mentioned above, it is a very whimsical and exciting movie. The dark moments are nothing compared to later films. Chris Columbus also said he wanted this film to be as accurate to the books as possible, which is what makes it so great!
5. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
The final novel in the series was split into two films, partly because it would be difficult to squeeze the important events of the final book into one film and because they wanted the extra cash. It was a smart move–and although this one is easily the least interesting of the two finales, I still find it extremely engaging! It touches on a lot of the characters’ motivations and how they have been shaped by the war plaguing the wizarding world. We also get the incredible scene of Harry and Hermione dancing to O Children by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds in the tent, which I think is one of the best scenes in the franchise!
4. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
This movie is very divisive for a lot of die-hard fans but hear me out. This movie is pure fun. Sure, it’s the film where Cedric dies (RIP), and Voldemort officially returns with the help of Peter Pettigrew, yet the Triwizard Tournament allows for a lot of fun and sometimes stressful scenes of the tasks that the contestants must complete. The action scenes always have me holding my breath, and the sad moments I mentioned earlier always give me the chills. It is an emotional film and is equipped with another great twist– Mad-Eye Moody not really being Mad-Eye Moody. The common complaint about this movie by die-hard fans is that a majority of the novel was cut out of the film. The house elf plot line was nonexistent, and we didn’t get to see the Quidditch World Cup (which I honestly agree with). My rebuttal to these claims is that Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is the third longest book in the series. It would be impossible to include every single plot line from the book, and I think that (most) of the choices made in Goblet were for the very best.
3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
“It all ends here”. That is the line used for much of the marketing and advertising for this film. How does it still manage to give me the chills?! This is what the entire series has been leading up to- the ultimate showdown between Harry and Voldemort. This movie is nothing short of outstanding. We learn character-arc-changing information about characters, and we see The Battle of Hogwarts which is as epic as it is devastating. The moment that ruins me in this movie, however, is the very end. We see the Golden Trio all grown up, and this always triggers the waterworks for me. This film is such a great end to the series and we really get to see our favorite characters’ storylines come to a definitive close.
2. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
This film is easily one of the series’ darkest thematically. It deals heavily with dark themes, but I believe it is because of these dark themes that we see some of Harry’s greatest character development. He feels betrayed by his friends because they have been instructed not to tell him anything about the budding fight against Voldemort, and Dumbledore is purposefully ignoring him. Voldemort is attempting to seize hold of his thoughts, and an extremely unpleasant woman, Professor Umbridge, has completely taken over Hogwarts. To top it off, his godfather is killed by his cousin. It is definitely one of the saddest movies of the series and despite this, we see some of Harry’s best character development near the end. We explore his grief with Dumbledore, although this is more prevalent in the book, and viewers learn to empathize with Harry and the struggles that he experiences in this film.
1. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
We are now down to my first and most favorite pick of the series: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. There are so many things to say about this film, and I probably won’t be able to talk about all of them, but I think this is easily the strongest, most daring film of the entire series. Alfonso Cuarón took bold choices in his directing that made the movie as amazing as it is. It is visually stunning and the story is extremely solid. The way it is portrayed onscreen makes it as concise as it can be, without missing any emotional beats. The plot twist in this film is easily my favorite– when the audience finds out that Peter Pettigrew betrayed James and Lily Potter, not Sirius Black. Sirius and Remus’ reunion is one of my favorite scenes in the whole film, and getting to see Harry and Sirius’ relationship begin is so heartwarming. Overall, this film is extremely entertaining and such a delight!