google.com, pub-4957599080974045, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0
Home Film Harry Potter: All 8 Films, Ranked

Harry Potter: All 8 Films, Ranked

by Conor O'Brien
Harry Potter

Released between 2001-2011, the Harry Potter films are a staple of modern pop culture. Here is our official ranking of all the films from eighth place down to first.

Over the course of a decade, fans around the world experienced the Wizarding World through the eyes of Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived. They also saw Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson, who played Harry, Ron and Hermione grow from children to young adults.

The first film, Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone (or Sorcerer’s Stone, depending where you are) came out in 2001, just five years after JK Rowling’s novel was published. The remaining films were released in 2002, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011, concluding Harry’s story arc.

Although centered on the same character and a portion of the larger overall story, each of the films are very different. Many of the situations or characters are unique to a specific film, which will influence the ranking. The individual directors (Chris Columbus, Alfonso Cuarón, Mike Newell and David Yates) also made very different movies and some captured the magic of Hogwarts and the Wizarding World better than others.

So, without further ado, here is Courageous Nerd‘s ranking of all eight Harry Potter films, as released by Warner Bros.

8. Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone (2001)

Warner Bros

Director: Chris Columbus

Screenwriter: Steve Kloves

First is not always best, as the Harry Potter franchise proved. Much of the first outing was dedicated to exposition to introduce Harry (and therefore the viewer) to the Wizarding World. This is painfully obvious when rewatching the franchise and takes away some of the enjoyment for the overall film.

Furthermore, Philosopher’s Stone is an almost shot-by-shot representation of what happened in the book. “What are you talking about?” I hear you ask, “Is that not a good thing?” Surprisingly, it actually isn’t. Columbus and screenwriter Steve Kloves were not very imaginative in reinvigorating JK Rowling’s original story. Therefore, the film’s plot plays out very predictably. Many of the later films remedy this problem by adding original components specifically for the screen.

Lastly, there is the overall tone of Philosopher’s Stone – please ignore the very deliberate attempt at a rhyme. Although Chris Columbus’ past work (Home Alone, Mrs. Doubtfire and more) made him suitable to direct a large group of children, his contribution to the franchise stands out significantly. Unlike the darker stories later in the series, Columbus’ films are geared towards a family audience and thus are more over-the-top sweet and sentimental.

7. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 (2010)

Harry Potter
Warner Bros

Director: David Yates

Screenwriter: Steve Kloves

In order to maximise the story to its full potential, the final Harry Potter film, Deathly Hallows, was split into two parts released in 2010 and 2011. Whether or not this was successful is up to individual interpretation.

The film started off strong and action-packed but the story overall is almost forgettable. In all honesty, the main purpose of Part 1 is to establish plot elements that will pay off in Part 2. While the decision to split the film makes sense from a practical standpoint, this half lacks the excitement of its successor.

Some moments do save the film, to an extent. Dobby the House Elf’s return following four-film absence was welcome, as was the addition of Bill Nighy as new Minister for Magic, Rufus Scrimgeour. Mundungus Fletcher (Andy Linden) was an effective comedic character for the brief time he appeared.

Several key players across the franchise – McGonagall, the Weasley family, Neville, Lupin and more only play small roles, which is a tough blow considering this is the penultimate appearance for all the characters, even Harry himself.

While this is objectively not a ‘bad’ film, many of the others in the franchise are much better.

6. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)

Warner Bros

Director: Chris Columbus

Screenwriter: Steve Kloves

Although Chamber of Secrets is a sentimental favourite for this writer, it is not the strongest Harry Potter film. It does improve upon its predecessor by having a more mature plot, darker elements and a compelling focus on the Harry-Ron friendship. The acting from the main three kids also develops, although still a work in progress.

In terms of the overall cast, there were two standouts. One was Sir Kenneth Branagh as Gilderoy Lockhart, the new Defence Against the Dark Arts professor. Casting a Shakespearan in such an absurd role was a genius move. Branagh knew exactly what buttons to press for hamming up his performance as Lockhart and stole almost every scene.

The second was Christian Coulson as Tom Riddle, who nailed capturing the essence of the character and was a convincing villain onscreen. Being slightly older than the age he was playing, Coulson brought a maturity to the part which made Riddle seem wiser than years.

Ultimately, this film is special to the franchise for many reasons, but here are two in particular. Mark Williams makes his debut as Arthur Weasley and stays on until the end. Meanwhile, Limerick-born actor Richard Harris makes his final appearance as Professor Dumbledore, due to his death on October 25, 2002. Harris passed away just under a month before this film was released.

5. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (2009)

Harry Potter
Warner Bros

Director: David Yates

Screenwriter: Steve Kloves

For the most part, Half-Blood Prince has a lighter, more comedic tone in comparison to the other Harry Potter films. The main storyline is centered around the characters’ romantic relationships and the “keen sting” of young love. Harry pines for Ginny Weasley, who is dating Dean Thomas while Hermione is secretly in love with Ron, who starts a relationship with their classmate Lavender Brown. It is completely understandable if this is an unpopular film for many people.

However, one of Half-Blood Prince’s strengths is further developing the mentor-student dynamic between Harry and Albus Dumbledore, as they embark on private lessons and view Dumbledore’s memories in the Pensieve. The film, much like its namesake novel also cleverly explores the past of Severus Snape (the titular “Half-Blood Prince”) although this is not revealed until near the conclusion.

As long-term fans will know, this investment into the pair’s relationship makes Dumbledore’s murder in the climax that much more painful. Therefore, Half Blood Prince marks the end of Dumbledore’s six-film run as a living character and in a sense, Michael Gambon’s tenure as one of the franchise’s central figures.

Some of the major casting additions in Half-Blood Prince include Jim Broadbent as Horace Slughorn and Helen McCrory as Narcissa Malfoy, both of whom add even more acting talented to an already impressive ensemble cast.

4. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)

Warner Bros

Director: Mike Newell

Screenwriter: Steve Kloves

After the tense atmosphere in Prisoner of Azkaban (more on that later), Goblet of Fire has a deceptively lighter atmosphere albeit with dark undertones. Although Harry has been targeted by Voldemort since the series began, there is a threat much closer to home in this instalment. In fact, other than a brief cameo at the beginning, it would be assume that Voldemort was set aside in favour of the Tri-Wizard Tournament which is obviously not the case.

For the first time, the story introduces a counterpoint Hogwarts student to Harry. Similarly to the Boy Who Lived, Cedric Diggory (played by pre-Twilight Robert Pattinson) is an older, popular student on the Hufflepuff Quidditch team. Goblet of Fire takes the first big risk of the franchise by killing off 17-year-old Diggory to facilitate the return of Lord Voldemort.

While Prisoner of Azkaban also had darker elements, this film was the definite shift into the more mature territory defined by the franchise’s latter half. From Cedric’s death, to his father’s emotional reaction and the introduction of the Unforgivable Curses, the foundation is laid for what is to come.

Goblet of Fire also marks the first appearances of Brendan Gleeson (Mad-Eye Moody) and Clemence Poesy (Fleur Delacour), both of whom return in later films. Julie Walters (Mrs Weasley) is absent for the first and only time.

Two major British sitcom stars co-star; Roger Lloyd Pack as Barty Crouch Sr. (“Trigger” in Only Fools and Horses/”Owen” in The Vicar of Dibley) as well as Frances de la Tour as Madame Maxime (“Ruth” from Rising Damp).

3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 (2011)

Harry Potter
Warner Bros

Director: David Yates

Screenwriter: Steve Kloves

In many ways, Deathly Hallows Part 2 is a worthy conclusion to the Harry Potter film franchise. However, it is not without minor issues that could have been corrected. Despite characters such as Fred Weasley, Remus Lupin and Nymphadora Tonks appearing in several films, all three are killed off-screen. While the emotion is still palpable either way, less important characters received on-screen death scenes so this feels like an oversight.

Some of the more memorable aspects of the book – Snape’s death and memories, Neville Longbottom’s evolution into warrior mode, backstory of the Dumbledore family were all well executed. Ciarán Hinds was well cast as Aberforth Dumbledore and conveys the tragedy of his character’s early life with brother Albus.

Writing almost a decade after the fact, the make-up in the ’19 Years Later’ sequence could have been improved upon. The three central characters seemed to have barely aged – which means they either have good genes or unconvincing make-up. Even if this portion was condensed in comparison to the book, everything that needed to be said was brought across.

Overall, a solid film for the franchise but not quite the best.

2. Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix (2007)

Warner Bros

Director: David Yates

Screenwriter: Michael Goldenberg

On the surface, Order of The Phoenix seems like a more subdued film than its bombastic predecessor, Goblet of Fire. However, this is what makes the plot so effective. From watching again years after the initial release, Order of The Phoenix is reminiscent of a war/espionage movie. The imminent battle with Lord Voldemort seems on the horizon and Harry’s inner paranoia is explored in great detail.

There was also the welcome inclusion of Gary Oldman as Sirius Black in his most significant appearance since Prisoner of Azkaban. He and Daniel Radcliffe work very well together to build up the Harry-Sirius loving dynamic, only to break viewers’ hearts by the end when, SPOILER, Sirius is murdered by his cousin, Bellatrix Lestrange (played by franchise newcomer Helena Bonham Carter).

As played by Imelda Staunton, the character of Dolores Umbridge is a fantastic villain and a more human antagonist in comparison to Voldemort. Hiding such a cruel streak behind a seemingly sickly sweet woman is an interesting contrast and pays off for any first-time viewer. Additionally, the Dumbledore’s Army scenes and hiding this from Umbridge was a fun part of the novel and this is brought across well in the film version.

Unlike the previous three films where Harry has largely recovered from his trauma in the previous story, Order of The Phoenix deals with the repercussions of the previous film. Harry feels immense survivor’s guilt over Cedric Diggory’s murder and grapples with his growing feelings for Cedric’s girlfriend, Cho Chang. This lasting impact continues into the following him, following Sirius’ death.

1. Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)

Warner Bros

Director: Alfonso Cuarón

Screenwriter: Steve Kloves

Following Chris Columbus’ family friendly contributions to Harry Potter, film number three was the turning point for the franchise. Director Alfonso Cuarón, best known at the time for Y tu mamá también (2001) was a perfect choice to capture the characters’ growing level of maturity as teenagers. The story is also a lot darker, with the cinematography reflecting this. There is further exploration into Harry’s backstory, including some insight into what his parents were like as people.

Prisoner of Azkaban also adds a significant amount of the franchise’s key supporting cast – Gary Oldman (Sirius Black), David Thewlis (Remus Lupin), Michael Gambon (the new Albus Dumbledore), Emma Thompson (Professor Trelawney) and Timothy Spall (Peter Pettigrew). In addition to this, Robert Hardy’s role as Cornelius Fudge is expanded and sets the stage for his eventual antagonism towards Harry.

With a strong combination of story, improved acting from the three leads, well adapted screenplay and precise direction, this feels like the one film in the franchise where everything aligned perfectly. It took risks compared to the previous films by not following the book’s plot as faithfully, but this is fine. There would be no point in seeing the film if everything unfolded exactly as the books described.

Follow Courageous Nerd on social media: TwitterInstagramFacebookYouTube

Follow writer/Editor-in-Chief Conor O’Brien on social media: TwitterInstagram

You may also like

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: