It has been more than 20 years since Harry Potter first appeared on the big screen, introducing even more of the world to the beloved characters of Hogwarts. The franchise remains wildly popular amongst movie fans, even though the Fantastic Beasts spinoff films haven’t been met with the same adoration as the first eight Harry Potter titles, which shows just how much love there is out there for the Potterverse. That love likely won’t go away any time soon, but there are some Potter movies that fans enjoy more than others.
Between the eight Harry Potter films and the three movies in the Fantastic Beasts, there are 11 total movies in the entire Potterverse franchise for fans to enjoy. That number will only grow in the years to come.
Now, following the release of Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore earlier this year, we thought it would be a good time to take a look back and assess the franchise as a whole. Which movies have stood the test of time? Which films aren’t as good as the others?
Take a look below, as we ranks all 11 movies in the entire Harry Potter franchise, worst to best!
11. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018)
It should go without saying, but Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is the worst film in the entire Potterverse franchise, and it’s not very close. The Crimes of Grindelwald misses on just about every front. J.K. Rowling’s script is a mess from start to finish, trying to bring in a ton of ideas but with no clue how to naturally weave them into the story that started in the first film.
Not only is there too much going on, but there’s too much going on for what feels like a very, very long time. The movie doesn’t ever want to end.
The performances, for the most part, are the bright spot of the film. Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, and Dan Fogler remain an excellent trio, carrying over their chemistry from the first movie. Zoe Kravitz is excellent, as always. But the focal point of the film is Johnny Depp’s Grindelwald, and he delivers one of the worst performances of his career. All he manages to do with his bland, uninspired performance is remind everyone just how great Colin Farrell could’ve been.
10. Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore (2022)
Crimes of Grindelwald is the only genuinely bad movie in the Harry Potter franchise. Its sequel, Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, may not be as good as the mainline Harry Potter films, but it’s not a bad movie by any stretch.
The Secrets of Dumbledore is something of a course-correction for the Fantastic Beasts series. Steve Kloves was brought back to the franchise to help Rowling write the screenplay and his presence alone improved things tremendously. From a story perspective, Secrets of Dumbledore is a lot easier to follow than its predecessor, and everything moves at a brisk pace.
Jude Law and Mads Mikkelsen are delightful as Dumbledore and Grindelwald, respectively. Mikkelsen had a difficult task, taking over for someone as well-known as Depp, but he did well to make the character completely his own.
9. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)
A lot of really great stuff happens in Chamber of Secrets. The Tom Riddle storyline is excellent. Moaning Myrtle is a delightful side character. The Basilisk is such a great monster. Not to mention we get some early development in Harry and Ginny’s story. Unfortunately, the movie doesn’t do quite as good a job with any of these things as the book does.
Chris Columbus was a perfect fit for the first Harry Potter, but at times he seemed out of his element in the second go-round. No longer was it a simple adventure about kids in a new, fantastical world. Things started getting dark, and the franchise could’ve used a different director to bring Chamber of Secrets to life. It also could’ve used a little less time. Chamber of Secrets is the longest film of the franchise and there’s just no reason for that to be the case.
Still, any movie that opens with a flying car and a killer tree is going to at least be fun from time to time.
8. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (2010)
The ranking for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 deserves an asterisk. Overall, the Deathly Hallows story is adapted beautifully for the screen by David Yates. It’s just that most of the great stuff from that book exists in the second half. The decision to split into two separate movies was always going to doom Part 1 just a little bit.
Things get off to a very exciting start in the first Deathly Hallows, but most of the film is setup and filler. It sets the stage for the final installment of the series and chews up the minutes in order to make that film truly soar.
Bonus points to Deathly Hallows: Part 1 for ending on the saddest cliffhanger possible. Dobby’s death is absolutely gut-wrenching each and every time you watch it.
7. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)
The mess that the Fantastic Beasts series has become in the last few years often makes people forget just how enjoyable the first movie actually is.
There’s a whimsy to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them that Harry Potter fans had been missing. The whole world of the film is filled to the brim with excitement and untapped potential. For the most part, Yates and his team did a great job exploring that uncharted world, viewing it all through the optimistic and eager eyes of Eddie Redmayne’s Newt.
Fantastic Beasts works so well because it balances the light and dark to tremendous effect. There’s a fun adventure to be had throughout the film, but Colin Farrell turns scenes terrifying at the drop of a hat. Really enjoyable stuff all around.
6. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is another title, like Chamber of Secrets before it, that was better executed as a book. The Triwizard Tournament is one of the best and most exhilarating events in the entire series, and the movie version was ultimately a bit disappointing.
The Goblet of Fire film is still pretty good, it just doesn’t capture the tournament, or its competitors, as fully as book readers would’ve liked. A lot of the actual tournament feels like it’s on fast-forward throughout the movie. The set pieces were beautifully designed, and many of the guest characters were perfectly cast. They were just underutilized.
Goblet of Fire does, however, introduce two of the Harry Potter franchise’s biggest standouts. Robert Pattinson’s Cedric Diggory is flawless and the performance helped launch him into superstardom. This film also represented the debut of Brendan Gleeson as Mad-Eye Moody, an absolute scene-stealer throughout the entire series.
5. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)
The sixth installment in the Harry Potter series manages to be both its lightest and darkest. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is genuinely funny. There are points where the teenaged protagonists even veer into rom-com territory. On the other hand, the film is also dark and devastating when it needs to be. Yates balances the tones beautifully in his second of what would become several entries in the franchise.
Half-Blood Prince is also bittersweet, in a way. The early movies were mostly about Harry’s time at Hogwarts. Fans loved spending time with the characters exploring the halls of that castle. In the Deathly Hallows films, the conflict with Voldemort becomes an all-out war. Half-Blood Prince bridges that gap, and serves as something of a farewell to Hogwarts just before the action really ramps up.
4. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)
Director David Yates’ first entry into the Harry Potter series succeeds on multiple fronts, but perhaps none more than the film’s impeccable casting. The Order of the Phoenix has so many memorable characters, and the film adaptation does an excellent job in bringing them all to life in wonderful ways.
Evanna Lynch is absolutely perfect as Luna Lovegood. There’s a reason she became one of the most beloved characters in the entire franchise, and Lynch has a lot to do with it.
The unquestioned MVP, however, Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge. The woman is beyond terrifying every time she’s on screen, but she seems completely innocent and unassuming. There are so many layers to Staunton’s performance and she quickly establishes herself as one of the best villains in the series.
3. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001)
Chris Columbus may have overstayed his welcome with Chamber of Secrets, but the Home Alone director was the absolute perfect choice to kick off the Harry Potter film series.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is a wonderful coming-of-age tale that introduces fans to a hidden world of magic and mischief. It’s much more family oriented than later entries and Columbus absolutely nails the tone. From that very first shot of the candles floating in the great hall, it’s clear that the film is pulling back the curtain on something you’ve never experienced before.
It’s impossible to talk about Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone without talking about the greatness of John Williams. The greatest composer in history had already created countless iconic film scores before joining Harry Potter, yet somehow managed to do it again.
2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011)
Bringing such a beloved series to an end was always going to be a difficult challenge, especially with an ending was as massive and surprising as the one featured in the Harry Potter books. Fortunately, Yates and the team delivered.
The first Deathly Hallows movie does a lot of the ground work, eating up the exposition time that allows Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 to move as effectively as it does. Still, the set pieces and effects are grander and more impressive than anything else in the series to that point. From a technical perspective, it’s nothing short of masterful.
Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is a true blockbuster in every sense of the word. It’s a huge movie that keeps you on the edge of your seat from start to finish, making it one of the most rewatchable films in the franchise.
1. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
Sincere apologies to Chris Columbus and David Yates, but Alfonso Cuaron is far and away the best director to helm a Harry Potter movie, and he proved his immense talent with Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. It does help that he had the good fortune of adapting the best of Rowling’s book series, as well.
Each shot in Prisoner of Azkaban is expertly crafted, guiding your eyes to see exactly what Cuaron needs you to see in order for the film’s big twist/payoff in the third act to land. That entire twist is so well executed, which is difficult to do when you’re dealing with time travel and alternate timelines.
Prisoner of Azkaban also includes many of the franchise’s best performances. Daniel Radcliffe is on top of his game throughout the film. Gary Oldman’s Sirius Black makes an immediate impact on the entire series, bringing the weight and gravitas that the films needed in order to spring into the more action-packed sequels to come. And let’s not forget David Thewlis as Remus Lupin, the most complex and underrated character in the Harry Potter franchise.