Ranking the Harry Potter Movies
By Christina Corbisiero
I know ranking the Harry Potter movies has been done countless times before on the internet, but it’s 2020 and I feel that I should put my own opinion about the Harry Potter movies out there. I have reached the point of the pandemic where I have found myself diving into all the fandoms of my teen years, which means I was rewatching the Harry Potter movies on HBO Max before they were taken down. That being said, I have also found myself only having Harry Potter TikToks coming onto my ForYou Page, which has only further brought back my obsession with the series.
1. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
I might be biased, but this is the best book and movie. Hands down. I have seen this particular film more times than any of the other ones. In February, the Providence Performing Arts Center played this movie on a huge screen with a live orchestra, and it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had watching a movie. Each year, they pick the next one chronologically to play with an orchestra. This movie is special because it’s the only Harry Potter movie that was directed by Alfonso Cuaron (he also directed Roma and Gravity). Although the first two movies are iconic to the Harry Potter series, Cuaron took the franchise to a different level. He introduced a darker palette to the movie, but not as dark as all the movies following Prisoner of Azkaban would be; this foreshadowed the events yet to come. I think the third movie is the most magical of them all because you see the whole theme of the time turner, the opening scene of Harry using his wand under his bedsheet, the incident in which Harry inflates his Aunt Marge, and more images of basic magic around Hogwarts (from Hyppogriffs to the Maurader’s Map). I like this movie because it’s the last time you get to see the golden trio (Harry, Hermione, and Ron) truly happy and enjoying adolescence. It’s fun, it’s lighthearted, and the only movie where Harry doesn’t confront Voldemort in any way. Also, Sirius Black and Remus Lupin are two of my favorite characters and are introduced in this movie.
2. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
This is a classic. All the main characters are eleven, and it’s so fun getting the first glances of their personalities. Although some of the props in the Forbidden Forest aren’t the best, I would say this is the second-best movie because it sets the scene for all the other ones. The beginning isn’t rushed, and you really get to have insight into Harry’s life at the Dursley’s before Hagrid tells the big news...that Harry’s a wizard. This movie gives me Halloween vibes and reminds me of the Fall when I watch it. There are just so many good moments in this movie, and as a child, I really wanted to go to Hogwarts after watching Harry choose his wand and receive Hedwig.
3. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
This is the second and last HP movie directed by Chris Columbus and falls into the same category of the Sorcerer’s Stone, which is fun to watch and nothing too bad happens in it. Although there are dark parts of the movie, such as students becoming stupified, a giant basilisk slithering through the vents, and Ginny being captured; it also is a pretty fun movie overall. For being twelve, the characters are incredibly brave and there are so many elements to magic being fun for the children in it. Some of my favorite parts include Harry and Ron following the trail of spiders, which absolutely scared me as a child, but every time I watch it I still laugh at the line “Why couldn’t it be butterflies!” Also, you get to meet all the Weasley’s in this movie and see their house.
4. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
This movie is the most strange out of the whole franchise. All the scenes are very darkly lit and green, which adds to how weird the plot is. The sixth movie depicts how awkward the teenage years are very well, and Professor Slughorn’s plot makes it even more fun. He’s disguised as a chair when he’s introduced, and along with that, his interactions with Harry are always amusing (especially regarding the luck potion). This movie is also pretty scary (I saw it in theatres when I was nine years old), and does a great job of instilling the fear that the characters feel into the audience. I do like Half-Blood Prince more than some of the other movies because there’s still a huge element of surprise when you find out who the prince is. Some other pros are seeing Draco’s inner battle with himself about his actions for the “bad side” i.e death eaters and Voldemort(Tom Felton’s acting is so good in this movie because he’s acting more than just a child), and Dumbledore giving more background about what went wrong with Tom Riddle.
5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
I feel like the director didn’t read the book when it came to this movie. Yes, there are some pros such as Robert Pattinson being in the movie (I love Cedric Diggory), and the depiction of the Yule Ball; but there are so many missing elements from the books. If you hadn’t read the books, it looks like Harry doesn’t do any research for the Triwizard tournament himself (everyone helps him out). Also, the beginning is so rushed and doesn’t give many contexts to where the characters are; it just starts with everyone rushing to a Quidditch Match. Right from the start, you can tell this is a different director because of how dark the coloring of the movie is. My biggest pet peeve is how the movie ends, a certain character dies (I won’t spoil that if you haven’t seen it), and then not even ten minutes later the characters are seen happily saying goodbye to each other, despite the trauma they’ve just witnessed.
6. Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix
There are some cool scenes in this movie, don’t get me wrong. I personally love the Battle of the Department of Mysteries, the room of requirement, and the introduction of Luna Lovegood. I think my personal bias against the movie is my favorite character dying, but I also haven’t watched this movie as many times I have the others. I also don’t really like watching Harry pine for Cho Chang, I feel like more characters could’ve been introduced as a love interest for him beside her (but that’s a critique for the series as a whole). I absolutely loved the book, but the movie really doesn’t really make me feel the same way.
7. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
The main reason this is at the bottom of the list is that I think I’ve seen both parts only one other time than my original time, and I definitely need to rewatch it. I know it’s a close to the series, and so packed with action (good, bad, and ugly), but it also includes the deaths of so many of my favorite characters, and I hate watching that happen. I would love to rewatch this one, but the others always come first because I like the more magical and happy movements over the main battles and deaths. I’ll make it a goal to rewatch this one because I don’t have a fair judgment, but I also haven’t met anyone who’s said that Deathly Hallows is their favorite.
These views on the movies are not the same ones I hold for the books, except for the fact that Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is my top one. I think the book series is well done, and add a different element than the movies, but overall the movies are some of my favorite things to re-watch countless times. Maybe a new college pass time will be to revisit these movies (and possibly read the books for the third time).