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All 8 Harry Potter Films, Ranked From Worst to Best






All 8 Harry Potter Films, Ranked From Worst to Best

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Take a look through our list of all the Harry Potter films, ranked worst to best, in honor of the release of Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore!


This article contains spoilers for all 8 Harry Potter films.

There are few film franchises that have had the same cultural impact as Harry Potter, building a rich and magical universe from the ground up with unique characters and a sprawling narrative that’s worked its way into so many people’s hearts over the years. Whether it’s the childlike wonder of the first few films or the high-stakes action of the final couple, there’s something for all audiences in the Wizarding World. And even more impressively, every single film in the series has its own fresh tone and atmosphere, making for eight tonally distinct but narratively connected adventures that form the Harry Potter story we all know and love. Whilst some of Rowling’s books were translated to screen with a little more success than others, the overall impact of this entire franchise is one that cinema is unlikely to see again any time soon. Here’s our list of all eight films, ranked from the worst to the best!


8. HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE

(2005)

Director: Mike Newell
Writers: Steve Kloves

loud and clear reviews all 8 harry potter films ranked from worst to best goblet of fire
All Harry Potter Films Ranked from Worst to Best: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Warner Bros. Pictures)

Although Goblet of Fire features some of the most thrilling and exciting individual scenes of the entire franchise, the film as a whole doesn’t quite come together in the same way as the others in the series. It’s a little too full of teenage drama and relationship troubles to ever reach the emotional and dramatic heights that were established in the three prior films. The stakes are lower (barring that final, thrilling final act), and as such, the narrative feels a little less compelling. That being said, the challenges of the Triwizard Tournament are extremely fun to watch, and it’s still entertaining to follow these beloved characters as they start to learn more about themselves and make some crucial self-discoveries. It’s fast-paced, unpredictable, and full of surprises, just like Harry Potter should be. With a little more focus on the whole ‘return of Voldemort’ subplot and a little less fixation on these kids’ hormonal explorations, Goblet of Fire could easily have been one of the best in the series. 


7. HARRY POTTER AND THE PHILOSOPHER’S STONE

(2001)

Director: Chris Columbus
Writer: Steve Kloves

loud and clear reviews all 8 harry potter films ranked from worst to best philosopher's stone
All Harry Potter Films Ranked from Worst to Best: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Warner Bros. Pictures)

The Philosopher’s Stone is filled to the brim with so many iconic and unforgettable moments that it’s almost impossible to choose a favorite. From Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane) exploring Diagon Alley together to the students sailing to Hogwarts for the first time, the entire film is full of magic and nostalgia that elevates it way, way above what anybody could have expected. The only real problem with The Philosopher’s Stone is that the main narrative is never anywhere near as compelling or gripping as the less important side narratives. The character of Professor Quirrell (Ian Hart) never really becomes anything other than a stereotypical villain, which leaves the final act to struggle with a notable lack of momentum. Regardless, this is where all the magic and adventure starts, so it’s hard not to view the film through rose-tinted glasses and ignore the little nitpicks that would otherwise drag the film down. There’s no Harry Potter without The Philosopher’s Stone, and it’s still an extremely entertaining and watchable film in its own right. It might not be perfect, but it is quintessentially magical – and that’s more than enough.


6. HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBERS OF SECRETS

(2002)

Director: Chris Columbus
Writer: Steve Kloves

loud and clear reviews all 8 harry potter films ranked from worst to best chamber of secrets
All Harry Potter Films Ranked from Worst to Best: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Warner Bros. Pictures)

Despite not quite being as magical and dreamlike as its predecessor, Chamber of Secrets does a lot to advance the world of Harry Potter into the dark and dangerous adventure that it is destined to become. It sacrifices the childlike innocence of the first film for a more mature and dangerous story involving a deadly Basilisk, generation-long prophecies, and ominous messages written on the walls in blood. Chamber of Secrets also introduces us to some of the most interesting and entertaining characters of the entire franchise: not only do we meet Draco’s father Lucius (Jason Isaacs) and their House Elf Dobby (Toby Jones), but the film also spends a lot of time with Tom Riddle (Christian Peter Coulson) – allowing for that chill-inducing reveal of his true identity. Although the story might not be as full of magic and wonder as some of the other installments, Chamber of Secrets still offers an extremely captivating mystery that the audience is invited to investigate alongside Harry and his friends. It marks a drastic departure from the hazy, nostalgia-driven storytelling of the first installment and develops a sharply distinct personality that definitely works in its favor. 


5. HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE

(2009)

Director: David Yates
Writer: Steve Kloves

loud and clear reviews all 8 harry potter films ranked from worst to best half-blood prince
All Harry Potter Films Ranked from Worst to Best: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Warner Bros. Pictures)

Half-Blood Prince is the biggest mixed bag of the entire series. On the one hand, the film features some of the most exciting and haunting scenes in Harry’s whole story – with the battle on the Astronomy Tower, the retrieval of Voldemort’s (Ralph Fiennes) locket and the bathroom duel with Draco (Tom Felton) standing out among them all – but it’s also one of the weakest in terms of its plotting and pacing. There are several moments that easily could have been cut from the film, and it leaves the momentum feeling a little jarred and uneven at times. The most common complaint with Half-Blood Prince is that for much of the runtime, nothing really happens. But whilst that’s true from a short-term narrative perspective, it’s a smart decision that’s made in favour of subtly developing the important relationships at the heart of the story. Without the rich character work that’s done on Snape (Alan Rickman), Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) and Draco in Half-Blood Prince, none of those incredible emotional beats in the final film would have hit even half as strongly. It’s for this reason that casual audiences often find themselves disappointed with the film, whilst hardcore fans of the series often cite it as one of their favorites. And for that, it lands itself right in the middle of this list.


4. HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX

(2007)

Director: David Yates
Writer: Michael Goldenberg

loud and clear reviews all 8 harry potter films ranked from worst to best order of the phoenix
All Harry Potter Films Ranked from Worst to Best: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Warner Bros. Pictures)

There’s absolutely no denying that Order of the Phoenix is one of the most exciting films in the whole Harry Potter franchise. It’s in this film Harry’s journey really starts to pick up the pace as he’s forced to face off against not only the Ministry of Magic, but also Voldemort and his newly reunited Death Eaters. The film has a very different feel from the previous four, bringing in new face David Yates (who will go on to direct the remaining three films), and he does a great job of gradually increasing tension and raising the stakes throughout – making for an explosive finale that carries huge levels of emotional weight. There might not be as much action or mystery-solving in Order of the Phoenix, but it sacrifices this for a more character-driven story with Harry uncovering the secrets of his parents’ past through gripping conversations with Sirius (Gary Oldman), Remus (David Thewlis), and Snape. The stakes are so much higher in this film than they’re ever been before, with the threat of a deadly civil war between Wizards and Muggles looming over every scene. It’s a real turning point in the series, and David Yates’ signature style works perfectly for this specific tone.


3. HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS – PART 1

(2010)

Director: David Yates
Writer: Steve Kloves

See Also

deathly hallows dance scene
All Harry Potter Films Ranked from Worst to Best: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 (Warner Bros. Pictures)

There have been many things said about Deathly Hallows Part 1 in the years since its release, but one thing still stands – this is without a doubt the most underrated film of the bunch. Not only is it perhaps the most accurate to the book, but it also features some truly astonishing character work that allows the audience to see these central characters in a new light for the first time. It’s often described as one of the weaker films in the series since the narrative isn’t that action-packed and a lot of the scenes drag out for a long time – but that’s what makes this installment so new and refreshing. It’s the calm before the storm, the time when our characters get to reflect on their journey and their lives before the inevitable chaos of Part 2. The story has been so non-stop up to this point that such a slow and contemplative installment feels almost sobering. We’re with Harry, Ron (Rupert Grint), and Hermione (Emma Watson) for almost the entire runtime, and those long sequences allow the audience to get a glimpse into their minds outside of Hogwarts, outside all the chaos and danger of battle. The film really emphasizes the idea that they’re still children, just three lost kids with the weight of the world forced onto their shoulders and absolutely nothing they can do about it. It’s not the populist favorite, but there’s a certain human magic to Deathly Hallows Part 1 that just isn’t present in any of the other films.


2. HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN

(2004)

Director: Alfonso Cuarón
Writer: Steve Kloves

the prisoner of azkaban
All Harry Potter Films Ranked from Worst to Best: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Walt Disney Pictures)

Within the Harry Potter series of films, there’s a distinct point where the tone sharply switches from childlike wonder and curiosity to dark, foreboding danger and fear – and that’s Prisoner of Azkaban. Following on from Columbus’ two magical adventures, Cuarón takes the series in a completely different, mature direction that’s perfectly fitting for this specific story. With the introduction of Remus Lupin, Sirius Black, and Peter Pettigrew (Timothy Spall), we’re able to learn a lot more about Harry’s parents, their involvement in the Wizarding War, and the looming threat of Voldemort’s potential return. Despite being the first film in the series where Voldemort isn’t actually a principal threat, Prisoner of Azkaban has some of the most engaging and thrilling storytelling of the entire franchise, using the conflict between the remaining Marauders to offer some in-depth character development and perfectly set-up Voldemort’s return in the next film. The final hour is some of the finest filmmaking the series will ever see, jumping at a breakneck pace between some of the most intense and exciting scenes in Harry’s whole journey.


1. HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS – PART 2

(2011)

Director: David Yates
Writer: Steve Kloves

loud and clear reviews all 8 harry potter films ranked from worst to best deathly hallows voldemort
All Harry Potter Films Ranked from Worst to Best: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 (Warner Bros. Pictures)

However, as emotional and refreshing as Part 1 is, it still can’t live up to the pure grandeur and power of the following film. Up to this point, the Harry Potter films have followed a fairly standard formula – they introduce some new characters, give a little exposition, follow the characters through an engaging and entertaining journey, and then wrap it all up before nodding toward the future. In Deathly Hallows Part 2, there’s no need for that setup. From the second Harry steps foot in Hogwarts, the film doesn’t even offer a second to breathe. It’s a non-stop action epic that somehow also manages to be a deep, philosophical exploration of death, morality, and friendship. All those little plot points and throwaway ideas from earlier films are brought back and wrapped up in the most satisfying way possible, truly doing the characters justice and adhering to the central message of the series. It may differ from the book in a few places, but all the emotional beats remain the same and are even elevated through the entire cast’s impressive performances. Alan Rickman in particular is on a whole other level in this film, and the scenes in which he appears (you know the ones) are easily some of the most memorable Yates ever put to screen. Deathly Hallows Part 2 exemplifies everything that makes the Harry Potter series so unique and beloved, and it will be a miracle if we ever get another studio blockbuster with half the raw emotion and sweeping brilliance of this one.


Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets Of Dumbledore: Official Trailer (Warner Bros)

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets Of Dumbledore was released theatrically in the UK, Ireland and Japan on April 8, and in the US and worldwide on April 15, 2022. The film is now available to watch on digital and on demand.

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