List: The 10 Best Scenes From the ‘Harry Potter’ Saga

I wanted to sort of bring to a close my Harry Potter summer with some sort of list. At first I was going to do a retrospective on the film, ranking them and sort of reviewing them, but that proved to be quite a challenge. So, instead I thought I’d rank my top 10 scens from all eight movies. Obviously, there are more than 10 great scenes, but these are the ones that stuck out the most for me, the ones that I can’t see the series working without.

So, I hope you enjoy it and leave your thoughts on the comments section.

10. Felix Felices

From Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

In this scene, Harry uses the vial of liquid luck that he won in his first day of Potions class with Professor Slughorn to try and get the memory that he’s been holding back that is crucial in the defeat of Voldemort. This potion makes Harry act overtly optimistic, but as we all can tell, he is kind of high. And we also get to see that Slughorn is not as wholesome as we think a Hogwarts professor should be. And it concludes with a very heartfelt speech from Slughorn that wasn’t in the book, where he talks about how Lily Potter was special to him.

This particular scene may not seem remarkable, but for me, this is the funniest scene in the entire series. The sixth film of the saga, although dark, also has the best and most humor, which sets it apart from the rest of the films. This scene, thanks to Daniel Radcliffe and Jim Broadbent’s fun performances, Bruno Delbonnel’s gorgeous cinematography, and one of the best things that Steve Kloves wrote in these 10 years, stands out from all the other comedic scenes in the film, and that is saying something.

9. The Patronus

From Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

This scene happens toward the end of the third film. After going back in time thanks to Hermione’s Time Turner, they both have already saved Buckbeak from being executed and now have to rescue Sirius from the Dementors. Before all this, Harry thought that his father was actually the one who conjured the patronus that originally made all the Dementors go away (they don’t explain why he thinks that in the film, but if you’ve read the books you’re good to go). But after standing there, watching him and his godfather having all the happiness sucked out of them, he realizes that he is the one that has to save the day, and so he conjures a very powerful patronus charm that saves his life and Sirius’s.

This has always been one of my favorite scenes, because this is the scene where Harry finally realizes that there won’t always be someone there to help him. Alfonso Cuaron gets this, he gets the whole Potter universe, and it shows here. This particular scene has to be magical, but also has to show that Harry has grown and is on his way to become a great wizard. So, using his eye for beautiful compositions, his ability to extract good performances out of just about everyone (don’t believe me? Wait until Gravity is made and released and critics will rave about Sandra Bullock’s performance), and John Williams’s gorgeous score, Cuaron created one of the best and most iconic scene of the series.

8. “O Children”

From Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1

Among book purists, this may very well be the most controversial addition to any of the films. This of course has to do that it may seem that Harry and Hermione are attracted to each other, and of course purists would not have any of that (although I always thought they should end up together). Perhaps if it had been presented in any other film or under a different context I would agree with them, but as it is presented here, it works in a totally friendly and non-romantic way.

Deahtly Hallows – Part 1 is easily the darkest film of them all. There really are any light moments, which are needed from time to time. This scene happens when Ron leaves them because he is afraid for his family, and obviously the tension between Harry and Hermione increase, because not only do they not know what to do next, but their best friend has just abandoned them. So, this little dance, with beautiful and fitting lyrics by Nick Cave relieves some of the tension, and shows us that among the darkness, we can still have some light moments, and it reminded us that Harry and Hermione are friends, and as long as they know that, they are going to be alright.

7. Fred and George Leave Hogwarts

From Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 

Much like the previous scene on the list, this one stands out because it is a fun and light interlude among a very dark film. That, and the fact that it is one of the most visually exciting sequences in the entire series. But the main reason that this scene is included in this list is an entirely different one.

We all hate Umbridge, not only because she is a terrible human being, but because we all have known a teacher or professor like her. We all know an oppressive, unfair, and evil educator, and we all just want to stand up one day and punch them in the face. Fred and George don’t quite get physical with her, but they more or less made our fantasies come true. After being oppressed for the majority of the year, the twins use what they are best at (practical tricks) to stick it to Dolores Umbridge, and it made me, and I’m sure that the rest of the world as well, want to stand up and cheer for having the courage to do what we would never do.

6. The Prince’s Tale

From Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2

This particular chapter of the Deahtly Hallows book may very well be the best thing Rowling ever wrote. Severus Snape was always one of the most interesting and mysterious characters from the series, and after the shocker in Half-Blood Prince, we wanted know why he did what he did. Here we get to find out that he did it all out of love for Lilly, Harry’s mother. We get to see how they met before they went to Hogwarts, and how their relationship changes as years go by, but his love for her never did.

This chapter is handled very well in the movie, using the look of the pensieve from the sixth film, combined with what we can imagine are Harry’s memories. This scene was the best edited part of Deathly Hallows – Part 2, as Yates had to combine his newly-shot footage with footage from the others. That, along with Alxandre Desplat’s gorgeous music (one of two instances where his music worked), and a brilliant performance from the great Alan Rickman, made the scene the stand out of the entire movie. Now, it’s not perfect, as they omitted a certain aspect of Snapes memory that was key as to why his relationship with Lilly changed, but I’m sure that when the extended cut is released, it will fixed.

5. Buckbeak’s Flight

From Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Not much to say as to why this scene is great. Like I said before, Cuaron got what the world of Harry Potter is about: the magic. The beautiful cinematography, the visual effects, John Williams’s perfect music; pure perfection.

4. The First Task of the TriWizard Tournament

From Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Mike Newell may not have gotten the meaning of the Harry Potter world, but what he did get was the visual spectacle. Goblet of Fire had to be the most visually-driven of the films, and he succeeded. The best thing about it was the first task of the tournament, where the champions have to face Dragons. When I first saw this movie in theaters, I was amazed at how real the Hungarian Horntail looked, and how seamless its interactions with the real sets in the beginning seemed. To this day, the dragon remains one of my favorite visual effects ever. That, and the fact that the scene is thrilling earned it this high placement on the list.

3. The Cave

From Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

This particular event of the book had my heart pumping unlike anything from the series at that point. The strange setting, seeing the greatest wizard alive being driven mad by a potion, Harry standing there without being able to help, and the inferi attack made it one of the most intense things I’ve ever read.

The movie translates that scene perfectly, with a heavier sense of helplessness thanks to Michael Gambon’s performance and Bruno Delbonnel’s cinematography. I do have one small quarrel with the design of the inferi. When I read it, for some reason, I expected them to look like George A. Romero zombies, and the CGI creatures were not nearly as scary as they should have been. But still, the scene as a whole is great.

2. The Deathly Hallows

From Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1

The filmmakers could have told the tale of the Deathly Hallows with actors in wizard costumes, and a CG rendition of death, but instead, they chose to tell it in a way that big live-action blockbusters rarely do: with animation. Made in CG, but in a style of shadow puppetry and with Emma Watson’s voice over, this scene has a more magical feel too it, and at the same time it feels darker that it would have in live action. It feels like when we would hear a fairy tale when we are children. And the best thing is, it does’t step away from the overall atmosphere that the film had built up. It adds a greater sense of doom.

1. Voldemort Vs. Dumbledore

From Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Albus Dumbledore and Lord Voldemort, the most powerful wizards alive, face off. That alone brought great pressure for the filmmakers to deliver an epic duel. They delivered. The awesomeness of Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort, and the greatness of Michael Gambon as everyone’s favorite wizard (admit it, he’s your favorite), Stuart Craig’s gorgeous design of the Ministry of Magic, the cinematography, the editing, and the amazing visual effects combine to deliver the most epic scene in the entire series. It was so epic that the filmmakers could not even match it when it came to Harry’s duel with Voldemort. I could watch this scene alone on a loop, and I’d never get tired. This scene is a reminder of the greatness that the franchise could reach if the studio had not interfered so much.


7 thoughts on “List: The 10 Best Scenes From the ‘Harry Potter’ Saga

  1. I agree with you on most of these, especially your #1. My peronsal favorite is #8 Harry and Hermione dancing. I’ve always thought they should be together. I would probably replace your #2 The Deathly Hallows with the scene where Hagrid returns from Azkaban, enters the Great Hall, and Harry hugs him. I tear up ever time.

    • The Hagrid scene is actually one of my least favorite. I find it to be a cheap attempt at extracting tears for the audience, but if you think about the logistics of that scene, there is not reason why it should exist.

  2. Totally agree, with one small exception. There is one scene in Deathly Hallows p2, which in my opinion is one of the few scenes in movie history that deserves the title “perfect scene.” I’m talking about the Courtyard Apocalypse scene, and i would have placed it here, and perhaps removed felix felicis.

    • That scene was fine, but it also encapsulates why the movie was a disappointment for me: it just wasn’t epic enough. It was too brief and too tame for what it was supposed to be.

  3. I agree with you e. perez. The entire movie felt like a slight letdown. It just felt too rushed and not epic enough, I agree. With that being said i still loved the movie. HaHa.

  4. I think Neville’s speech has to be a top ten moment, and i also think o’ children needs to be higher on the list. I’ve never really thought of the scene as particularly romantic, though. To me it just felt like two very depressed friends who needed each other at that moment. Two people who needed to smile and laugh and hold each other.

  5. This one is my favorite scene of all times……Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 Protecting Hogwarts Scene and the scene from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban where Lupin talks about Lilly and James Potter….

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