Since the release of Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone** in 2001, there have been a grand total of eight main-series films — excluding Fantastic Beasts, of course. And if you haven’t heard, they’re rather brilliant. How brilliant, you ask? Well, that’s what we’re going to discuss.
Join us, the Zavvi team (posting on behalf of our friends over at Ukonic), as we rank our personal favourite Harry Potter films from the good to the absolutely magical — pardon the pun, fellow Potterheads.
8) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 (2010)
What better place to start our list than right at the end — almost. The penultimate film in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 is irrefutably good. However, it suffers slightly from a little something called pacing.
You see, a lot happens in this film, and not all of it is imperative to progressing the plot — take all those camping scenes, for instance. While this movie does have many great moments, we can’t help but feel that it should have been combined with Part 2 to form one heavy-hitting conclusion. Regardless, one can’t not cry when *spoiler warning* Dobby (Toby Jones) meets his fate at the hands of Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter).
7) Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)
Much like The Deathly Hallows Part 1, The Half-Blood Prince is largely handicapped by its lack of substance. For the most part, the film relies on mystery to keep viewers hooked. Who is the Half-Blood Prince? Has Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton) finally fallen to irredeemable evil? These are all intriguing questions, and the payoff is immense, but the lack of memorability keeps this film from reaching the heights of other installments further down this list.
6) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (2011)
After a decade of build-up, the climactic film in the Harry Potter series was released. Picking up directly after the events of the first half, The Deathly Hallows Part 2 returns our favourite duo — Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione Granger (Emma Watson), and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) — to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry for one final battle.
For a series as popular as this one, the team in front of and behind the camera had a lot of work cut out for them. Nevertheless, they succeeded in spectacular fashion. There are deaths, reveals, and visually stunning wand battles. What more could you ask for?
5) Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)
When most people think of The Order of the Phoenix, they imagine one thing more than anything else. Or should we say one person?
In a world of Death Eaters, Basilisks, and Dementors, this pink-wearing sadist stands above them all as the most evil being in the wizarding world. Not only is she cruel, but she also directs said cruelty towards the students of Hogwarts. This makes for a very uncomfortable watch, but that is by no means a bad thing. To the credit of the director and Umbridge’s actor, Imelda Staunton, some of the scenes in which the character is featured are permanently seared into our brains. And that is the signature of a good film.
4) Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001)
Who could forget the movie that started it all? Back when The Philosopher’s Stone was released, few would have thought that the franchise would become the worldwide sensation that it is today. J.K Rowling’s debut novel was only four years old, and there was no shortage of fantasy films biding for a cut of that box-office gold.
Even so, Harry Potter was something different. Radcliffe, Watson, and Grint were just young actors at the time, yet they managed to wow us with their indisputable on-screen chemistry. Furthermore, the wizarding world was unlike anything we’d experienced prior, capturing the imaginations of audience members both young and old.
** Editor's note: In the UK, where Zavvi is based, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is retitled as Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, just like the book!
3) Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)
You would have thought that no parent would send their child back to Hogwarts after the events of The Philosopher’s Stone. But alas, Harry’s ‘guardians’ aren’t the most attentive, Ron’s parents seem not to care, and Hermione’s family is nowhere to be seen. That’s magic school for you!
Their second year, to nobody’s surprise, is fraught with mortal peril. The Chamber of Secrets sees the reveal of the Basilisk, a giant serpent living somewhere inside Hogwarts, and also begins the slow journey towards Voldemort’s return. In addition to providing a self-contained narrative, the sequel also manages to make promises about the future, keeping audiences hooked.
2) Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
In our humble opinion, The Prisoner of Azkaban was the turning point for Harry Potter. The film showed off the darkest corners of this universe and doubled down on the horror elements introduced in the prior installment.
Of course, the story also established the presence of Sirius Black (Gary Oldman), a huge influence on Harry as a character. Also, did we mention Professor Lupin (David Thewlis)? Werewolves are always entertaining.
1) Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)
The Goblet of Fire stands out in our minds for two specific reasons: First is the Triwizard Tournament, which provides the basis for the film’s narrative. And second is the introduction of Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes), Harry’s nemesis.
There are loads of action scenes for viewers to sink their teeth into — involving dragons, Merpeople, and sentient mazes — and the world-building here is immense. To put it plainly, this is a film that you can rewatch over and over.