It's amazing how a franchise can help shape and define the world, as we know it. Harry Potter was possibly one of the most significant aspects of my childhood. It was one of the first books that ever truly grabbed my attention, and it sparked my love of reading — a love that has stayed with me until this day. When Harry Potter became a film franchise, I never imagined how magical they would become, or how much they would mean to me. In fact, ranking the Harry Potter movies is almost an impossible task, because even the films I don't watch over and over mean so much to me on an emotional level that I love them on that basis alone.
And I know I'm not alone in this. Oh, sure, Harry Potter fans can complain all day about all the little details that were left out of the movie, and the misconceptions that people who only watched the movies have versus those people who read the books first. But I don't think there's anyone out there who can imagine a different Harry, Ron, and Hermione than Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Hermione Granger. And I don't think there's anyone out there who can't say that, on some level, the movie versions of their favorite book changed their lives.
In celebration of the Boy Who Lived, and all of the magical times we spent with him, here are all eight of the Harry Potter films, ranked.
8th Place: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Despite David Yates' stunning first entry as director into the series, Order of The Phoenix is the weakest film of the franchise. Though Imelda Staunton is does an amazing job as the ridiculous and cruel Dolores Umbridge, the sequences in the Ministry of Magic just didn't have the same magic as the halls of Hogwarts.
7th Place: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Chamber of Secrets seems to be one of films that get the least attention from many people who love Harry Potter. Though director Chris Columbus introduces us to Dobby the house elf, one of the most beloved Harry Potter characters, the film (which is the longest in the franchise at 161 minutes) seems to drag on forever.
6th Place: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 1
I can understand why it was more economical and time efficient to split Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows into two films. However, literally nothing happens in Part 1; it's all a big set-up for Part 2. The film works well for a bit because it's lovely to see Harry, Ron, and Hermione in a completely new environment. However, it all just becomes rather depressing after a while. Their world has fallen apart, and there is very little hope that it will ever right itself again.
5th Place: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
The sixth film in the series in certainly the most hilarious out of all of them. David Yates found his footing as a director with this film. He was able to really grasp its humor, despite the extremely dark subject matter. Dumbledore’s death was obviously gut-wrenching, but Harry and Ron's awkward guffaws with the opposite sex early on help give the film light and hope.
4th Place: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
The first film of the series was certainly the most childlike, though not entirely lighthearted. Like Harry, we were all being introduced to Hogwarts and the Wizarding World. I remember going to see the film with my middle school classmates and being in awe as I watched everything I had read about come to life on the big screen. This film solidified Harry, Ron, and Hermione's friendship, and, overall, director Chris Columbus really built a beautiful foundation for the franchise to stand upon.
3rd Place: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
The Goblet of Fire has always been on of my favorite films in the franchise. For the first time, we really got to experience the Wizarding World beyond Hogwarts. It was perfect timing, considering the fact that our favorite trio were just entering into their teen years. The Triwizard Tournament itself makes this film majestic. Let's not forget that the fourth film also marks Voldermort's first official appearance, grown, live, and powerful once more.
2nd Place: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2
Deathly Hallows — Part 2 is an emotional roller coaster that is terrifying and excruciating, but absolutely satisfying. This is how everything ends, and, after a decade, it's a wonderful conclusion to the Harry Potter films. Director David Yates brought us home for a tearful farewell.
WINNER: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Prisoner of Azkaban is the film that defined what the Harry Potter franchise was to become. Director Alfonso Cuarón grabbed the film and completely overhauled the look and tone of Hogwarts and the Wizarding World. Michael Gambon stepped into the role of Dumbledore after Richard Harris' passing and did an exquisite job as the eccentric headmaster. Cuarón cannot be praised enough for really getting into the depths of each and every character. Every detail in the film was perfection, from the singing frogs to the double decker bus and time traveling. He created a world that was more magical than we could have ever hoped for. Prisoner of Azkaban may very well be a perfect film, in spite of all the details of the Marauders that didn't make the cut.
Looking back on the Harry Potter films as an "adult" does nothing to lesson my love for the franchise. In fact, I appreciate J.K. Rowling's brilliance and the amazing talent of the cast and crew even more for creating something in my childhood that ages as well as I have.
Image: Warner Bros. Pictures