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Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson became instant stars because of the Harry Potter movies. These films broke box office records, received many award accolades, and left their mark on pop culture forever. I, like many, grew up reading the Harry Potter books, and then spent years watching, and criticizing, the movies. I also have gotten into the Fantastic Beasts series (insert head shakes of disapproval here). A great thing about the Harry Potter books and movies is their timelessness. Constantly, new people discover and fall in love with them. For those new to the world of Harry, this one's for you: a list of all the Harry Potter movies in order of their release, including the Fantastic Beast movies.
These films aren’t placed in order of actual events, because who cares about accuracy, but in order of theatrical release. If you're new to the series, you'll want to watch them in this order the first time through...
Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Stone (2001)
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (also known as Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone) introduced everyone to the world of Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe). We meet 11-year-old Harry as he discovers that he is not just a neglected child, but a wizard. He then travels to Hogwarts where he meets his soon-to-be best friends forever, Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint).
Quickly, our hero is tested when he learns that dark forces reside in Hogwarts trying to bring back He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, or for those brave souls Lord Voldemort. Chris Columbus directs this Harry Potter movie and really does a fantastic job of bringing new and old fans of the characters into this world. If this first film wasn’t so well received, who knows if the franchise would have gained as much success as it did. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone really set the films up for potential success.
Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets (2002)
Chris Columbus, and most of the main cast and crew, return to bring Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets to the big screen. Ron, Hermione, and Harry return to Hogwarts a little older, a little wiser, and just as rule-breaking. This time Harry finds a mysterious diary from a former Hogwarts student named Tom Riddle (Christian Coulson). Nothing weird or sketchy could be associated with this strange diary, right? Wrong! It leads Harry and his friends to more danger and mischief.
If you weren’t already in love with the Harry Potter series, then Chris Columbus continues to develop, form, and enhance the world of Harry Potter and his friends on the big screen. By Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets this magical world feels established and grounded.
Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban (2004)
It’s Year 3 and the mysteries and danger are even greater in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Alfonso Cuaron steps in to direct this film that has Harry Potter going deeper into his parents' past. He learns that Sirius Black (Gary Oldman), a criminal and presumed Voldemort supporter, escapes from Azkaban. Harry believes that Sirius is hunting him down with plans to kill him.
Before the release of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, this was my absolute favorite book of the series. Therefore, I came in with high expectations. For the most part, Alfonso Cuaron did an amazing job directing this film. It’s probably one of the best Harry Potter movies.
Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire (2005)
Once upon a time, Robert Pattinson wasn’t Batman. Instead he was having his glory stolen from him by Harry Potter as Cedric Diggory in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. It’s time for the Triwizard Tournament and three magical schools are competing, with one seventeen-year-old representative from each school participating. But not so fast, fourteen-year-old Harry is selected along with Cedric to represent Hogwarts. This creates a big scandal and, of course, leads to danger and attempts to kill Harry Potter.
Hands down, this was one of the most exciting books to read for all the puzzles and riddles that needed solving for Harry to advance. Going into this film, this could either be a make or break moment for the film series. Mike Newell does an excellent job of adding the drama and thrills that Goblet of Fire needed to really push the franchise forward. This is also the first film where we meet Ralph Fiennes’ fully formed Voldemort.
Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix (2007)
After the events of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, we witness a darker, more cynical Harry Potter. He forms a secret group known as Dumbledore’s Army to practice defense spells. This is also the movie where Harry and long time crush Cho Chang (Katie Leung) explore their feelings for each other, and we meet supervillain Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton).
I will apologize in advance to any Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix book and movie stans, but to me, of all the books and movies, this always felt like a filler point. It helped forward the story along, but didn’t add anything revolutionary to the series. It was fine. And David Yates did a fine job directing it.
Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince (2009)
It’s the sixth year and the big conclusion is drawing near. Harry Potter, Ron, and Hermione, and Ron’s sister Ginny (Bonnie Wright) are now sixteen and fifteen, so full of teen angst and hormones. When not dealing with various romantic problems, Lord Voldemort and his team have a wicked plan brewing that will change the course of Harry’s world forever.
David Yates returns to direct Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. It focuses a lot more on Harry and his friends being teens than many of the other movies. This film also has some major moments and reveals that set the course for the final two movies. The Half-Blood Prince also has the most shocking moments of the franchise.
Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 1 (2010)
The final Harry Potter book, Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows was broken down into two films to really flesh out the final story. The first film mainly revolves around Harry, Ron, and Hermione trying to obtain and destroy the Horcruxes in order to kill Voldemort. David Yates once again adds his stamp to the franchise by directing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows-Part 1.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 emphasizes a lot of the emotional turmoil that Harry, Ron, and Hermione are now facing as they’re isolated from everyone else, all their losses over the past six movies, and facing a very dangerous foe. It takes a more quiet route as it leads up to the big grand conclusion.
Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2 (2011)
It’s all coming to an end as Harry, Ron, Hermione, and company face off against Voldemort one last time. This movie reveals all the secrets that have been hidden for seven films, gives fans the big battle between Harry and Voldemort, and fulfills all leftover prophecies.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 is probably among the best movies of the franchise because it offers a fitting conclusion to the movies and a fairly exciting and emotional adaptation of the books. Harry Potter fans are some of the most diehard, critical, and dedicated fanbase out there, and I believe most can agree that David Yates may have fumbled with some of the movies but came through in the end with Deathly Hallows Part 2.
Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them (2016)
Set in 1926, Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) goes on an adventure to help an abused and neglected boy named Credence (Ezra Miller), and locate some of his missing creatures.
David Yates once again returns to the world of Harry Potter, this time way before the events of the first eight films. We meet a bunch of new characters in this one. Along with Newt, we meet American witches and wizards like Tina (Katherine Waterston) and her sister Queenie (Alison Sudol), a muggle/no-maj baker Jacob (Dan Fogler), and the infamous Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp), whose crimes are mentioned throughout the Harry Potter series prior to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. This film acts as a way to expand the Potterverse.
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald (2018)
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald is the second in a five movie plan to further flesh out these characters. This film focuses mainly on Credence, Newt and his family, and Grindelwald’s scheming. Jude Law joins the cast as young Dumbledore in this movie.
The Crimes of Grindelwald received a mainly negative reaction from die hard Harry Potter fans. However, if you enjoyed the first Fantastic Beasts movie, you likely won’t completely hate this one, unless you really don’t like changes to the established canon. If you’re new to Harry Potter and thinking of turning away because of Potter fans keep telling you to stop now, don’t listen. At least give this film a chance and decide for yourself whether to hate it or think it’s fine. Not the best, but not terrible.
Fantastic Beasts 3 is expected to hit theaters on November 12, 2021, but with a delayed filming schedule, it might be a bit longer before we see another Harry Potter movie. Luckily, as we wait for the next film installment, we can always rent or buy any of these movies on Amazon Prime or other video on demand services.
As for what transpires after the original Harry Potter series, if you're looking to check in on what became of Harry, Ron and Hermione as they headed into adulthood, check out the stage production, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. The script for the play is available for purchase, however, since it's a play, it's really meant to be seen on the stage, if you're able to get to New York or London.