It’s been over twenty years since the release of the first Harry Potter book, and almost two decades since the release of the first film in this magical, celebrated movie franchise. Yet, Pottermania is still booming (especially since the release of new spin-off series, Fantastic Beasts) and new fans are flocking in to binge-watch and celebrate this enchanting saga.
But which chapter in this 8-film collection is the best? And which one isn’t as wizardly wonderful as the rest?
Well, we’re spinning Hermione’s Time Turner and going back to relive every film from the series.
To properly honor the marvelous and enduring tale of the boy-who-lived, here’s a list of all Harry Potter movies ranked from worst to best.
8. Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 1
We’re not saying it’s a bad movie, but Deathly Hallows Part 1 is certainly the weakest (we can’t bring ourselves to say the ‘worst’) of the Harry Potter bunch. The majority of this film unfolds like the penultimate episode of a television series, making it a bit sluggish and monotonous. Most of it aims to set up the last chapter, with a lot of walks and talks in the woods, so it’s easy to feel a little weary watching it.
Deathly Hallows Part 1 is also the first movie where the trio aren’t in Hogwarts, leading some to say that it’s the least magical of them all. Still, there are some great aspects not to be overlooked – the wonderful animated sequence in which Hermione tells the story of the Three Brothers, Ron and Harry’s tear-jerking fight, and the moment when Harry and Hermione dance to briefly forget the chaos around them. All in all, this one wasn’t meant to feel like a standalone movie, but rather like an appetizer, and as such, it isn’t that bad. Indeed it’s an emotional journey for our trio, but it just lacks the excitement that its fellow flicks bring. For this reason, we’ve ranked the seventh movie in eighth place…
7. Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets
The second opus of the franchise is slightly darker than the first, but it still has the same whimsical, ‘children’s book’ feel to it as the first movie. As enjoyable as it is, Chamber of Secrets is a bit too long (the longest movie of the franchise!) with the director trying to shove way too much material from the book into one movie – something which we all know is impossible and creates some occasional meandering.
Still, the movie is entertaining and definitely makes for a great sequel that is as enchanting as the first. I mean, it’s not everyday you get to see a gigantic snake slithering around, or an adorable, cheeky elf getting up to mischief. Let’s not forget this is the first time we get to see a Horcrux get smashed, as well! It’s safe to say Chamber of Secrets doesn’t quite measure up to the other chapters, but it does successfully open the gates for the more sombre themes of the next installments.
6. Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix
The formula of this fifth opus is far different from the previous ones and exposes a much more political side of the Wizarding World than viewers are used to. The ministry occupies a more prominent place in the story than it ever had before, not to mention the terrifying Dolores Umbridge’s arrival and her subsequent dictatorship at Hogwarts.
Our favorite trio must organize a resistance, and the movie aptly shows that evil isn’t always as obvious as a Dark Lord hiding in the shadows, it can also be a bigoted, cruel figure of authority. While perhaps feeling a little too real, this movie still culminates in an epic and emotional battle which is by far one of the best action sequences of the franchise.
Wondering what Ron Weasley or Neville Longbottom looks like now? Check out these photos of the Harry Potter cast today!
5. Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone
It’s impossible to rank the first movie of the franchise any lower than this. Probably the most popular and most-watched film of the bundle, this one had everything it needed to kick off the saga – the introduction of likable characters, a magical world with an edge of darkness, and a story that put a spell on everyone from the get-go.
All the while, Sorcerer’s Stone makes sure not to add too much in the throats of those who haven’t read the books. A memorable introduction to Quidditch, Gringotts, Diagon Alley and wonderful characters like Hagrid, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is one that will stay with us forever. What’s more? It’s faithful to the novel in tone as well as in plot.
4. Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince
This opus juggles between the darkest themes of the saga (a devastating DEATH!) and cheerful moments on the side (Ron and that love potion!). Between Malfoy’s emotional struggle with his mission to kill Dumbledore, the exploration of Voldemort’s Tom Riddle days, Dumbledore’s secret, the Half-Blood prince mystery, and finally, the handful of teenage drama, one would think that this movie would be a mess. But this is surprisingly not the case and considering the length and dense nature of the book, Half-Blood Prince might even be the most masterful adaptation of the whole saga. Not to mention its distraught ending. Saying goodbye to Dumbledore has certainly left a Dark Mark on us…
Prefer the novels over the films? Here’s a list of differences in the Harry Potter books vs movies!
3. Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire
Ranked at third place in our list is Goblet of Fire. The first movie of the series that truly feels like a page has turned from childhood to adulthood. This chapter explores the romantic lives of Harry, Ron and Hermione, with a magical winter ball and a whole lot of overly attractive foreign students arriving for the Triwizard Tournament. Harry competes in dangerous tasks like facing a dragon and defeating a bunch of grindylows, truly keeping us at the edge of our seats. It’s the first time we actually meet Voldemort, too, and it was terrifying.
Harry Potter is officially for grown-ups, y’all. *trembles*
You can say it had uneven pacing at times, while book readers might think the source material was adapted a bit clumsily. That being said, we think the movie aptly balances the teenage drama with the tournament and the underlying threat of the Dark Lord’s return. The special effects, suspense, humor and heart-wrenching finale absolutely make up for the occasional mistakes.
2. Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 2
Deathly Hallows Part 2 pleased most Potterheads across the globe and proved an efficient epilogue to the story we’d all grown up with. There are tears, cheers, and oh so many nerves in this final goodbye to the franchise. It truly is one of the most thrilling two hours in the history of Harry Potter, there’s no surprise why it’s the highest rated Potter film on IMDb and one of the highest-grossing movies EVER!
There were a few letdowns, but not enough to rank it lower in this list – Dumbledore’s past wasn’t dug up as much as fans wanted, and the Snape and Lily flashbacks lacked some backstory that could have made Snape’s sacrifice make more sense, especially for non-book-readers.
But once again, much of the film was too damn good to be picky – from the epic Battle of Hogwarts with our favorite Potter characters reuniting against the Dark Lord, to the very Star Wars-duel between Voldemort and Harry, not to mention Ron and Hermione’s kiss and the touching time jump at Platform 9 ¾… it’s a worthy ending to a worthy saga.
1. Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban
Beyond being the most faithful book-to-film adaptation in terms of pace and spookiness, Alfonso Cuaron’s version of Prisoner of Azkaban is by far one of the top, most heart-wrenching and significant movies of the bunch. From the perfectly crafted introduction of Sirius Black, to the much gothic tone of the film as a whole, this chapter truly nailed the atmosphere of the novel. It also fulfilled the mammoth task of making a smooth transition between the more innocent early installments and the darker, grittier adaptations to come.
Besides the excellent time travelling sequences, there were more epic moments in this film including Harry turning Aunt Marge into a balloon, Hermione punching Malfoy, and meeting those deadly dementors. Oh and HELLO new Dumbledore, and nice to meet you Sirius and Lupin! Prisoner of Azkaban is officially the best Harry Potter movie (in Tell Tales’ opinion at least) and both a wonderful adaptation and fabulous transitory film for our hero’s journey.
There’s a crazy conspiracy that Harry dreamed all the events in this magical story! Read all about this bizarre idea in our list of Harry Potter theories!
We’re not going to lie, ranking these movies from worst to best was certainly trickier than any Triwizard Tournament – they’re all so great! But there’s always going to be one film that outranks the rest.
What did you think of this list? Do you agree with it or would you have ranked the films differently? Join us in this Sorting Ceremony and let us know your ranking of the Harry Potter movies from best to worst!
Think you know these movies inside and out? We bet you never spotted some of these Easter Eggs in the Harry Potter films! Scroll through our fun list of hidden clues!