All nine Potterverse movies ranked from worst to best

By ·January 1, 2017 9:30 am

Nothing says Christmas and New Year like a good Harry Potter marathon. It brings friends and family together because it certainly is hard to find a person that hates Harry Potter. But with nine movies in, it may be a little hard to actually bring yourself to finish the marathon; sometimes it’s so much easier to select a few of the very best movies to watch while leaving the others for another time.

And that is why, for your convenience, we have ranked all nine Harry Potter movies (including the recent Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) from worst to best; now your yearly Harry Potter marathon can only contain the best the franchise has to offer.


Half-Blood Prince takes the lowest spot on our list due to a number of reasons. One of them is the lack of faithfulness to the material. While J.K. Rowling’s sixth book was a fine installment to the series, the movie simply does not capture the magic and the feeling of the book – rather, it seems to terribly lack focus, jumping from Harry learning about Voldemort’s past to having teenage romance drama that seems more fitting of some other, less dark movie.

Picking up from the previous point, the movie tries way too hard to be funny. But in the dark and gloomy world where Voldemort has returned and the wizard families are being torn apart, the humour feels forced and out of place. It can still be a fine movie to watch, but if we had to choose it for the marathon, we wouldn’t.


Next up on our list is the first film of the franchise – the one that started it all. While it is nice and light family fun (despite Voldemort poking out the back of the head of one of the professors) it simply does not live up to what the franchise grew to be and what we know of Harry Potter. If you have kids that have never seen Harry Potter yet, go ahead and show it to them. Otherwise, it’s safe to leave this one out and rest safe knowing you’re not missing all that much.


The second one of the two Harry Potter movies directed by Chris Columbus, it is on a similar vein to the previous entry on the list. It works damn fine as a family movie, and that is definitely what Columbus intended, but it does not begin to touch the potential of the franchise. It takes a higher spot on our list, however, and that is because the movie makes the first real attempt at developing the mythology of the series, just like the book does – we get insight into Tom Riddle, the boy who would later become the Dark Lord of the wizarding world, we get introduced to Dobby the house elf and we delve into Hogwarts’ past and learn more about the early years of the school. In that sense, the second movie of the franchise is quite a good watch indeed.


The only Harry Potter movie on this list that is not actually a Harry Potter movie, Fantastic Beasts is the latest installment to the franchise, and the only movie here not based on a book. It might, therefore, feel rather out of place in a Harry Potter marathon, but for anyone who simply enjoys the magical world that Rowling has created (and has an interest in its lore), this movie will work just fine. Trademark colourful characters and magical creatures galore, it is a great movie to watch if you enjoy the enchanting world of Harry Potter, even if Harry Potter himself is not in it.


Next up, we have a movie that has managed to remain a fairly loyal adaptation of its source material while somehow not making the movie six hours long. Indeed, the fifth book of the series is one of the largest ones that Rowling has written, and making a decent movie out of that is quite an achievement by David Yates. The movie does rely heavily on montages to describe the more transitory parts of the story, but that’s only to be expected. All in all, Order of the Phoenix is a fine installment in the Harry Potter film series and does a brilliant job at capturing the beginning of the war and Voldemort’s return.


Moving up in the list, The Goblet of Fire is a very transitory Harry Potter movie; the director Mike Newell had a job of adapting the middle book of the series – the book which turns Harry Potter from a children’s story into a darker, more complex tale of death, loss and growing up. And a great job he has done.  On one hand, the movie retains all that we had learnt to love in the series, including quidditch, wacky magic moments and light-hearted adventures of the trio. The Yule Ball is a nice introduction to the characters becoming actual teenagers that carefully begin stepping into the dating world and doesn’t take you out of the story like the romance storylines in Half-Blood Prince do. On the other hand, however, it is the movie that heralds the return of Voldemort and is marked by a death of an innocent character. The movie combines the two sides of Harry Potter brilliantly and prepares us for the darker movies ahead. Hats off.


The penultimate installment of the series is quite a different one, as it turns away from the usual setting of Hogwarts for a moment to put our characters on a journey, both physically and emotionally. Looking at this movie as a whole, it seems like the quietest of the Harry Potter films, focusing on desolate landscapes, long pauses and human drama rather than quick action and endless adventures. And it works really well considering it is the final installment before the final film – it is meant to prepare us for the Battle of Hogwarts and the ultimate test of our heroes. Speaking of which…


Spectacular, dramatic and very final. That is what this movie is, and that is what it’s supposed to be. The final installment in the movie saga about the wizard boy ties up every loose end, turns all the tables upside down and makes us reconsider everything that we know. Mostly set in Hogwarts, this film shows us the final climactic battle and delivers the fate to all of our beloved characters. Scenes that stand out include Severus Snape’s heart-wrenching backstory, Harry’s limbo and the conversation with Dumbledore and the epilogue. It is also the most emotional of the Harry Potter movies, as a terribly large number of the characters draw their final breath in the battle against Voldemort. Thankfuly, Voldemort also does the same.


Among all of the magical Harry Potter movies, there is one that stands out as the most magical, and that is The Prisoner of Azkaban. Directed by Alfonso Cuarón (still the best Harry Potter director in my humble opinion), this installment was everything that we have ever loved about the franchise. It demonstrates the director’s great understanding of what Harry Potter is supposed to feel like and puts us on a wonderful journey filled with adventures and fantastic imagery. Cuarón’s signature long takes make the scenes important and grand, and there is barely a single shot that wouldn’t show something magical in it. It also introduces to us unforgettable characters like Sirius Black and Remus Lupin, and has a whole lot of chocolate besides. What’s not to love? This one is the one that you should never skip on your rewatch.

And this is how we rank the movies of this iconic saga. Do you agree with it, or would you put some films lower and some higher? Do let us know!

MORE: Review: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Image credits: Warner Bros.

Written by Vytautas Jokubaitis

Features Writer

Vytas is a graduate in English Philology and the Spanish language from Lithuania, currently doing his masters in England.

His hobbies include watching TV and movies, gaming and reading. He is also interested in all the things that make stories work, such as tropes and other devices.

His specialty subjects include A Song of Ice and Fire and other fantasy, Star Wars, and any other Sci-Fi stuff.

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