The Harry Potter movies are extremely special to me. I must have re-watched them at least five times each - but there are some that get more re-watched than others...
All of them are special in their own way, but every Harry Potter fan knows it to be true: we all have a favorite. As a fun HP-themed exercise, I whipped up my own personal definitive ranking of the Harry Potter movies - kind of like choosing between pizza and burritos, or chocolate and ice cream, this stuff is HARD!
This is very much personal opinion and is more informed by my own specific emotional attachments to each individual movie, so there is little point flaming me for intellectual critique - you shall not find that here!
Read my personal ranking of Harry Potter movies and please explain which is your favorite in the comments below.
8. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows II
Year of Release: 2011
Why it's a great movie: The entire franchise comes to a head, and good finally wins out over evil. There are some great fights. This movie always makes me sad because it's the end of the Harry Potter series and it's not mainly set at Hogwarts (also, I can't forgive the weird epilogue with 'old' Daniel Radcliffe)!
"Not my daughter, you bitch!"
- Molly Weasley
Relive the greatness: Go Neville!
7. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows I
Year of Release: 2010
Why it's a great movie: I love the whole back story of Dumbledore & Grindelwald, the Deathly Hallows, and the deftly handled pathos of Harry's trip to Godric's Hollow, but the pace of the movie suffers slightly for all of the explication it has to do. Also, just personal taste, but I always preferred the Hogwarts-centric stories of the earlier movies.
I have seen your heart, and it is mine.
- Lord Voldemort
Relive the greatness: Dobby is a free elf
6. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
Year of Release: 2009
Why it's a great movie: The emotional gut punch of this movie is both its strength and the reason I can't rank it so highly in the re-watchability stakes. There's only so many times I can sit through the grueling emotional punishment of the death of characters I'm deeply attached to, no matter how skillfully it's portrayed...
"I never noticed how beautiful this place is."
- Harry Potter
Relive the greatness: young Tom Riddle
5. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Year of Release: 2001
Why it's a great movie: Confession: the first time I saw the trailer for the very first Harry Potter movie, I was so excited I actually cried (gimme a break, OK, I was 12!). More than anything else, it was just such a relief that through strong casting, enchanting set dressing and faithful scripting, the movie was going to do justice to the book series.
"Red hair... and a hand-me-down robe. You must be a Weasley."
- Draco Malfoy
Relive the greatness: This is where the magic starts
4. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Year of Release: 2002
Why it's a great movie: I just LOVE the plot of The Chamber of Secrets, and I have great memories of clutching the book on the day it was released. The chirpy, kid-friendly atmosphere of the first movie is interrupted by some surprisingly dark imagery - Voldemort grooming little underage Ginny into his dirty basement boasting 'Her skeleton will lie in the Chamber forever' is more serial killer-y than most family fantasy movies would allow!
"It is not our abilities that show what we truly are. It is our choices."
- Albus Dumbledore
Relive the greatness: Ron Weasley and the Prisoner of Privet Drive
3. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Year of Release: 2007
Why it's a great movie: Controversial, but I actually think that the fifth movie is the only one that's actually better than its corresponding book. I love the plotting and detail in the novel, but I always thought that Order of the Phoenix would have been better served as a shorter book, purely in terms of clarity. The movie sensitively chose all the right points to develop, creating an action-packed, beautiful and - for the first time - truly dark vision of the HP world.
"You-Know-Who's back, you tosspot."
- Ron Weasley
Relive the greatness: Sirius crosses over
2. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Year of Release: 2005
Why it's a great movie: The Triwizard tournament just translated beautifully onto the screen, with the extravagance of dragons, merpeople, dark galleons and Quidditch acrobatics being more suited to a visual medium. The whole movie is gorgeous, and managed to elucidate the more befuddling aspects of a long novel into a memorable movie experience.
"Harry! Did you put your name in the Goblet of FIYAAAHHH?"
- Albus Dumbledore
Relive the greatness: get lost in the maze
1. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Year of Release: 2004
Why it's a great movie: Alfonso Cuaron took the helm and ensured that the third Harry Potter movie looked richer and more adult than the previous two films, developing towards maturity in perfect synchronicity with its budding young cast. I love the handling of time travel, the mix of humor with pure fantasy and... well, I'm also biased because it's my favorite HP book.
"Is that what my hair looks like from the back?"
- Hermione Granger
Relive the greatness: You foul... you EVIL...