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Harry Potter Movies Ranked

With the 20th anniversary upon us, and all 8 Harry Potter movies on HBO's streaming services, there's no better time for an official sput ranking of the live action films, as well as an HP appreciation thread. I re-watched them all over the last couple of days and have provided my thoughts below.
8Nicholas Hooper
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix


Easily the worst film adaptation of the series; it's not a worthless movie in its own right, but it's not a good movie either. It does have scenes that illustrate the Ministry’s overreach, Umbridge’s infuriating character, the isolation that Harry experiences due to being cast as a liar regarding Voldemort’s return etc, but completely fails to capture the gloomy, dystopic character of the book. One example of this is Percy Weasley actively siding with the Ministry of Magic in the book, while this is hardly even implied in the movie aside from a few very short scenes that would go over the head of most viewers. Even just one short scene showing this betrayal to a family unit which is very central to the film would have gone a long way in establishing how hopeless things really seem in the Wizarding world and in Harry's direct community during this time. Alas, the movie is unable to commit and receives a D here, uncharacteristic of any other number 8 I've ever known.

Grade: D (Dreadful)
7Patrick Doyle
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire


My least favorite book, but not my least favorite movie. Great action scenes. Compared to HP5 it does a much better job adapting scenes and atmosphere from the book esp considering its length (I’m sure you’ll recall #4 is where JKR's books began to double in size). However, the teen romance themes are handled poorly, and feel clumsy bordering on cringe throughout the film. This is somewhat understandable given the series does not truly take a turn toward adult themes until the end of the story, and to be fair most of the HP audience was still in middle school at the time (2005), but I can’t help but wonder if the movie would have aged better had the romance themes been handled with a bit more grace. Unsurprisingly this is the only HP live action that Mike Newell ever directed.

Grade: P (Poor)
6John Williams
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone


The first HP film lifts many lines directly from the book, and is all the better for it. The foundation for the live action series is solid, believable, and has aged quite well for what it is. What its child actors lack in acting chops, the movie more than makes up for with incredible cinematography, a fantastic soundtrack, and truly magical atmosphere. The heavyweight adult cast including names such as Alan Rickman, Maggie Smith, and Robbie Coltrane bring quite a bit of quality and character to a film with many weaknesses.

Grade: A (Acceptable)
5John Williams
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets


What I said about HP1, but with a more effective execution of its (admittedly more interesting) plot, and an engaging expansion of the visual aesthetics of the Wizarding World.

Grade: A (Acceptable)
4John Williams
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban


Possibly the best early HP movie, and the first to not be directed by Chris Columbus (what an unfortunate name...). The Prisoner of Azkaban retains some of the magical atmosphere of the first two movies and refrains from being too heavy-handed with themes of teen romance like the 4th and 5th movies. The CGI is iffy at times due to the era but is not a dealbreaker whatsoever. The dementors introduce a much darker tone to the live action series but are handled well for the younger HP audience at the time; a perfect balance between child and adult movie. Also Gary Oldman is quite possibly one of the most versatile actors that has ever lived and his role as Sirius Black is no exception!

Grade: EE (Exceeds Expectations)
3Nicholas Hooper
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince


The series really hits its stride with HP6, combining the best parts (and doing a better job of balancing the worst parts) of early and late-era HP movies, with little to no missteps. The story can feel slightly fractured at times, due to fitting so much into a standard HP-length movie (~2hrs), but again, not a dealbreaker here. Some of the dialogue in this one is quite good in my opinion. At least, comparatively.

Grade: O (Outstanding)
2Alexandre Desplat
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 2


Fixes the few issues that HP6 had by splitting the story into two movies. And what a glorious two movies they are, far and away the best of the series from a holistic point of view. I slightly prefer the first part for two reasons: 1.) the animated sequence that gives backstory to the Deathly Hallows, and 2.) the final fight scene in the second movie is good, but not great.

Grade: O (Outstanding)
1Alexandre Desplat
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part.1


Fixes the few issues that HP6 had by splitting the story into two movies. And what a glorious two movies they are, far and away the best of the series from a holistic point of view. I slightly prefer the first part for two reasons: 1.) the animated sequence that gives backstory to the Deathly Hallows is awesome and a great move for the series, and 2.) the final fight scene in the second movie is good, but not great.

Grade: O (Outstanding)
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