Sitting at home under quarantine I decided to re-watch one of my favorite series on the planet, Harry Potter. I’ve had the 4K UHD set for a while now and I finally gave it a go! ( I was 6 when the first book came out and 20 when the last movie debuted in theaters.) You can say that I grew up with this franchise and matured as the characters did because eleven year-old me was excited to see the book I read on the big-screen with my parents and twenty year-old me drove myself to the theater to see the sold-out show at midnight — equally excited.
A while back I started a segment on this site entitled Ranked where I simply list out the best movies in the best franchises. It’s nothing groundbreaking, just another opinion piece that means nothing on the internet. First was the Marvel Cinematic Universe and next up you get the Harry Potter Franchise listed in descending order. When you get right down to it, there isn’t one bad film in the series (which made this hard to do), but there are some films that are better than others when you really put your thinking cap on.
With that thought, yes, my list is the definite one.
What’s the best movie out of the 8-movie franchise? Find out below. Do you agree? Let me know in the comments. I did leave out the films in the Fantastic Beasts series because we are two in with three more to go… Once that series concludes, I will add them on the list!
8. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
Verdict: This films entire purpose serves as a stepping stone for the final film. Even though it’s beautifully shot with a lot of plot build-up, the main purpose is to set up the final showdown between good and evil.
Without the guidance and protection of their professors, Harry, Ron and Hermione begin a mission to destroy the Horcruxes, the sources of Voldemort’s immortality. Though they must rely on one another more than ever, dark forces threaten to tear them apart. Voldemort’s Death Eaters have seized control of the Ministry of Magic and Hogwarts, and they are searching for Harry — even as he and his friends prepare for the ultimate showdown.
7. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Verdict: The magical first installment that sets up the legendary series seen through eyes of children. This is the most child-like film of the bunch which means it might be harder for first-time adults watching the film. Nevertheless, it’s a classic that we all remember fondly as children ourselves.
Adaptation of the first of J.K. Rowling’s popular children’s novels about Harry Potter, a boy who learns on his eleventh birthday that he is the orphaned son of two powerful wizards and possesses unique magical powers of his own. He is summoned from his life as an unwanted child to become a student at Hogwarts, an English boarding school for wizards. There, he meets several friends who become his closest allies and help him discover the truth about his parents’ mysterious deaths.
6. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Verdict: This movie drastically picks up after the first film and begins to set the tone for the rest of the series. You can see the characters and overall story start to mature while also introducing more of the dark side of magic, Dobby, pure-bloods and more.
The second installment of boy wizard Harry Potter’s adventures at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, based on the novel by JK Rowling. A mysterious elf tells Harry to expect trouble during his second year at Hogwarts, but nothing can prepare him for trees that fight back, flying cars, spiders that talk and deadly warnings written in blood on the walls of the school.
5. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Verdict: The themes of this installment and the over-arching story really start to grow as this is the first movie Voldemort is out on the loose. We are introduced to Professor Umbridge, Dumbledore’s Army and, of course, the Order of the Phoenix. Another solid installment to the series!
Now in his fifth year at Hogwarts, Harry learns that many in the wizarding community do not know the truth of his encounter with Lord Voldemort. Cornelius Fudge, minister of Magic, appoints his toady, Dolores Umbridge, as Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, for he fears that professor Dumbledore will take his job. But her teaching is deficient and her methods, cruel, so Harry prepares a group of students to defend the school against a rising tide of evil.
4. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Verdict: This installment is the lightest and darkest film of the franchise – a perfect balance. It’s the funniest movie in the bunch showcasing teenage love, but it turns for the worst with the discovery of Voldemort’s Horcruxes, Dumbledore’s death and more. By the time the film ends we have a drastically shifted tone to carry us through the last two movies.
As Death Eaters wreak havoc in both Muggle and Wizard worlds, Hogwarts is no longer a safe haven for students. Though Harry suspects there are new dangers lurking within the castle walls, Dumbledore is more intent than ever on preparing the young wizard for the final battle with Voldemort. Meanwhile, teenage hormones run rampant through Hogwarts, presenting a different sort of danger. Love may be in the air, but tragedy looms, and Hogwarts may never be the same again.
3. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Verdict: This is the first film the main trio really start to dive into their characters and cement in on the roles they were given. Even more, you can see how they will move on through the rest of the series with new depth and dimension. This may be the deepest dive in the series when it comes to the big-screen — so much is going on; Dementors, Siris Black, werewolf’s, time-turning, a growing evil from Voldemort… the works.
(From what I’ve seen, this film tends to top a lot of Harry Potter lists, I can see why.)
Harry Potter’s third year at Hogwarts starts off badly when he learns deranged killer Sirius Black has escaped from Azkaban prison and is bent on murdering the teenage wizard. While Hermione’s cat torments Ron’s sickly rat, causing a rift among the trio, a swarm of nasty Dementors is sent to protect the school from Black. A mysterious new teacher helps Harry learn to defend himself, but what is his secret tie to Sirius Black?
2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
Verdict: This is the epic conclusion, the showdown everyone’s been waiting for. The movie doesn’t wait up and brings out all the stops from start to finish. Not only do you get the climatic battle at Hogwarts, but everything the past seven films had set up, pays off across the board. The bonus? A look at the characters 19 years after the battle between good and evil ended. You can feel the weight of all the films as the final credits role…. Wow!
A clash between good and evil awaits as young Harry, Ron and Hermione prepare for a final battle against Lord Voldemort. Harry has grown into a steely lad on a mission to rid the world of evil. The friends must search for the Horcruxes that keep the dastardly wizard immortal. Harry and Voldemort meet at Hogwarts Castle for an epic showdown where the forces of darkness may finally meet their match.
1. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Verdict: The continuous growth from the first three films comes full circle in the fourth movie. I believe that this is the tip of the iceberg for world-building in the series. Not only did they bring in other schools of magic; but a Triwizard Tournament full of danger, dragons, mermaids and a deadly maze. This is also the very first time we see a student murdered, and… more importantly, the first time we get to see ‘he who must not be named’ come into full form.
The fourth movie in the Harry Potter franchise sees Harry returning for his fourth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, along with his friends, Ron and Hermione. There is an upcoming tournament between the three major schools of magic, with one participant selected from each school by the Goblet of Fire. When Harry’s name is drawn, even though he is not eligible and is a fourth player, he must compete in the dangerous contest.
Prior to re-watching the series I made this list to see if anything would change… it did. Originally I had the Prisoner of Azkaban at #2 and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 at #3 — they swapped. Lastly, I had the Half-Blood Prince at #6 and the Order of the Phoenix at #5 — they swapped places also.
You can have an argument in switching out a few of these films, but nevertheless we were all blessed with these 8 films to begin with – no matter what the order may be.
None of these films are bad and this global-franchise will go down as one of the greatest of all time. There are some great franchises and trilogies out there, but eight amazing films that matured over time with the same arch, same characters and same enemy? Nobody will be able to do it like this ever again. The Harry Potter franchise encompassed my childhood and transition into adulthood. Like I mentioned above, “I was 6 when the first book came out and 20 when the last movie debuted in theaters.” It’s hard to put the magic into words.
I look forward to the next generation of kids in my family to experience this for the first time.
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