With the release of the Harry Potter saga’s conclusion we decided to put together a list of our favorite scenes throughout all the Potter films. It’s crazy that after all these years, Harry Potter has finally come to an end. It was a ride and a half, and I was glad to be part of it. Below you can see John, Steve and I discuss our favorite moments along with clips to go with them. There is a link below the YouTube videos we couldn’t embed that will open up a new tab upon clicking. Keep in mind these are in no particular order, and there’s a lot here. Sit down, grab a drink, and set aside 20 minutes or so to enjoy this trip down memory lane. Without further ado, our favor magical moments.
The Half-Blood Prince – Harry and Hermione
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Phil: Having just come off his first big Quidditch win, Ron is on fire and has come into a new found confidence he hasn’t seen for a while. Things are rocky between he and Hermione, whom have always had an unspoken love for one another. Ron begins to kiss his new girlfriend, Lavender Brown, in front of everyone. While everyone cheers Ron on, Hermione finally loses it and leaves.
Harry, always having a close connection with Hermione and playing more the role of the big brother, checks in on her. This scene is almost cheesy because when you get to the root of it we’re just dealing with typical teenage drama, though it’s handled with care and after so many movies we’re invested in these characters. As an actress, Emma Watson is being asked to do the most she’s done with her role, and while she doesn’t necessarily pull it off with flying colors, everything around her is working in her favor. It’s such a well shot scene, starting with a shot looking down the stair case of a crying Hermione with Harry’s shadow in view. The lighting is perfect, we really get a sense of how melancholy the mood is, and Nicholas Hooper’s score is at its finest. After a quick exchange with Ron, Harry comforts Hermione telling her he understands how she feels. If the scene ended on this note, maybe it wouldn’t be so special, but then comes what is likely my favorite shot from the entire film. Snow falling, we see the camera pans across the exterior of Hogwarts, where Ron and Lavender are seen through a window continuing to kiss, and then up above is Draco Malfoy standing in the tower where he has been asked to do his deed. We only see Draco for a flash, but we understand that he’s conflicted. The night transitions to day and so begins a new day at Hogwarts. The camera work, music, and the wide range of teenage emotions (love, heart break, confusion) make this the standout scene from Half-Blood Prince.
Steve: I like this scene because it just shows the characters dealing with normal kid shit. No prophecies, no massive conspiracies, just two friends comforting each other over some very simple, painful feelings.
The Prisoner of Azkaban – Expecto Patronum!
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John: My favorite Harry Potter movie is the third one, The Prisoner of Azkaban. It got the movies going into a darker and more adult theme. Plus it introduces the great character Sirius Black, played by phenomenal actor Gary Oldman. Anyway, the time travel part was always one of my favorite scenes. We pretty much see a big part of the ending, with a lot of twists and turns but a few things along the way aren’t explained very well. When Harry and Hermione go back in time and actually help themselves, it puts everything into place and is just really cool to see play out. Reminds me of Back to the Future, but with magic. And then we see the big Expecto Patronum to reveal Harry’s powers to be much more than we expected. He really is the Chosen One.
Phil: I agree with John, Azkaban is my favorite film. Whoever was daring enough to call in a little known Mexican director named Alfonso Cauron was some sort of genius. I don’t know how it happened, but it did. Anyway, how could you not love the “Expecto Patronum!” scene? Up until this film, Harry’s been a rather happy go lucky kid, despite getting into lots of life threatening danger. In this film we see a bit of a more lost Harry, and certainly a scared Harry. After a few earlier run ins with Dementors, Harry can’t particularly stomach the thought of dealing with them. When he finally delivers his patronus to take them out, it’s awesome. The music cuts, Harry shouts expecto patronum with conviction and the wand illuminates the entire field sending the dementors scatting. John William’s amazing music plays in the background while we hear the low hum of Harry’s magic doing its thing.
Cauron took a lot of liberties in this film. Had this scene played out like it should have, I don’t think it would have quite left the impression it did. In the book when Harry uses his patronum a stag is supposed to appear and take everything out. David Yates fixes the whole animal patronus thing in Order of the Phoenix to stay more true to the source material, but I like Cauron’s take a bit more. The “magic” in Azkaban is my favorite of all the movies. There is nothing in your face about it, just little flicks of the wrist with a faint sound suggesting something is being cast. He somehow managed to ground the magic in reality as much as he possibly could to the point where it almost seems believable. The magic ends up having the mystical feeling the force does in the original Star Wars Trilogy. Cauron doesn’t completely omit Harry’s stag as we see a glimpse of it in the past where Harry unknowingly sees himself cast the spell. I like how the stag is there in a sort of spiritual way, not physically there running rampant. When Harry casts the spell, he is the embodiment of his stag. It works, and the scene is about as perfect as it could get because of it.
Steve: PoA was the one movie that I liked better than the book, for all the reasons mentioned above. I think this and Half Blood Prince are my two favorite films in the series, with HFB having a slight edge.
The Prisoner of Azkaban – The Shrieking Shack
Phil: I’d argue this is the scene where the Harry Potter film’s grew up. While the kids are tossed into the situation and Harry plays an important role in it, it’s the big boys that take center stage. We finally meet the mysterious Sirius Black, we find out Ron’s silly rat was secretly Peter Pettigrew the entire time, and Remus Lupin reveals his role. We’ve heard all about the history of these guys thanks to Lupin’s relationship with Harry, but here everything unfolds with all the major players showing their hands. Sirius is completely at wits end, having spent too much time in Azkaban prison, and Pettigrew is scared shitless at the reformed duo of old pals Sirius and Lupin. Meanwhile Snape shows up, the kids are baffled at what’s going on, and it’s just all out insanity. The scene moves quickly, a sort of blink and you’ll miss it type scenario. Meanwhile they’re in one of the most incredible sets I’ve ever seen. The whole time this exchange is going down the entire stage is rocking and swaying. While the kids have done a decent job acting in their roles to this point, it’s nice to see the experienced adult actors just selling the shit out of this scene with Gary Oldman stealing the show. Easily one of my favorite scenes of the entire saga.
Steve: I agree this was definitely the moment where things changed. This scene carries all kinds of implications about what has been going on behind the scenes while Harry was having ‘Hardy Boys’ type adventures during Sorcerer’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets. The events that preceded our trio’s adventures were dark and ugly, this is the first glimpse we get of that.
The Order of the Phoenix – Dumbledore vs Voldemort
John: Watching movies about magic and we finally get to see what two of the most powerful wizards can do. Voldemort vs. Dumbledore. This was a scene a long time building. Voldemort gives a big FU to Harry and calls him weak. OH NO YOU DIDN’T! Big Daddy Dumbledore appears from the flames to do battle. Not only that but I love how Dumbledore refuses to call him Voldmort and just refers to him as Tom. A real FU right back to the Dark Lord. Plus I’m sure Phil can appreciate the heavy dose of Voldemort fingers going on in this scene.
Phil: Well of course I love Voldemort’s fingers in this scene, they’re outrageous! You’re right though, this scene is really great stuff. Through the course of all these movies we’ve only seen inexperienced wizards doing magic, but here we finally see two masters of their craft go at it. It’s probably the best wizard fight caught on film next to Gandalf vs Saruman. I love that no music plays during it, we just get lots of great audio, effects, faces, and of course, fingers.
Steve: It really was great to see the two most powerful wizards go to work. We’ve been hearing for 4 movies now about how these guys are supposedly hot shit, now they show us why. It’s the quintessential Student becomes the Master moment, but wait… the Masters not out of things to teach just yet.
The Order of the Phoenix – Harry’s Posession
Phil: Immediately following the fight between the two wizard titans, Voldemort decides to posses Harry yet again. Harry is at a breaking point now, completely unsure of himself, and afraid of the fact that he might be more like Voldemort than he thinks. When I read this scene in the book, I don’t remember feeling much about it, but here in the film it’s fantastic. Harry doesn’t get to shoot lasers and form giant balls of water like Dumbledore does, but his battle with Voldemort is easily the more emotional one. Harry overcomes his possession thanks to his friends, and Snape’s training, but when he hits Voldemort with the coup de grâce, it’s all Harry. For Harry to tell Voldemort he feels pity for him is strong stuff. His relationship with Voldemort is much deeper than simply hating him, he comes to understand Voldemort through their connection, and as a result feels sorry for Voldemort. Harry’s genuine feelings are enough to chase Voldemort out and to keep him out for good. Of course, Nicholas Hooper’s score is tops here too.
The Half Blood Prince – Sectumsempra
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Steve: Half Blood Prince is my favorite book in the series. I’m not sure if the movie was my favorite, it’s probably tied with Prisoner of Azkaban. Like Phil said earlier about the scene where Harry Potter grew up, I feel like this was probably one of his darkest moments. This was a point in his life where Harry crossed a line and let his arrogance and obsessions take control of him. We all know Draco was up to no good, but Harry went way too far in this scene. I love the way this scene was shot with the water running, the darkness… this scene actually feels like it could have been in Prisoner of Azkaban.
Phil: Watching this scene again certainly gave me the chills, I almost forgot how good it is. This scene kind of makes me feel like Draco was under utilized in these movies. He probably has all but 10 lines the entire film, but every time we see him we can feel the weight of the burden that has been placed upon his shoulders. We’ve always seen Draco as the pompous spoiled kid, yet here we see a much more human Draco. In fact, he’s human enough that we can finally relate to him. Through all these movies everyone wanted Draco to get what was coming to him, and when he finally does, we feel pretty sick about it.
Half Blood Prince – Fight Back You Coward!
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Steve: Snape is the most well-written character in the entire Harry potter Universe. Fact. Casting a genius actor like Alan Rickman to pretty much guaranteed that all my favorite moments in the films somehow involve him. This was a moment in the book that I was so excited to see play out on screen and it did not disappoint at all. I’m trying to dance around spoilers for the whole series here, suffice to say that when you walk out of Deathly Hallows Part 2, revisit this scene.
Phil: What I love about this part is that in the clip above where Harry first uses Sectumsempra on Draco he had no idea of the effect of the spell. All Harry knew was that it was potentially bad news. Here, an enraged Harry is out for blood and has no problem slinging the spell once again for Snape. He wanted to kill Snape. This Harry is a far different beast than the one relying on disarming spells from previous films, and considering the fact he knows he’s using dark magic goes to show that Harry does have an edge to him most wizards lack.
The Deathly Hallows Part 1 – The Dancing Scene
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Phil: By far the most controversial scene of Deathly Hallows because it didn’t happen in the book, I found it to be the best part of the movie. The gang has been on the road for some time now and aren’t making much progress in their journey to find the horcruxes. A jaded Ron Weasly decides he’s had enough and leaves Harry and Hermione for themselves. With a devastated Hermione left behind, Harry is once again there to comfort her, but this time it’s a bit different than normal. In fact, what happens between the two is almost romantic. This is where the fans (my wife included, who didn’t like this scene) have serious beef with the scene. Harry is supposed to love Ginny, and Hermione is supposed to love Ron, but here we see two lost souls connecting. Lets face it, the journey through Deathly Hallows Part 1 is grueling on the gang and borderline depressing, why wouldn’t these two possibly find a brief moment of comfort in each other? I like how the dancing is very playful, and that for a moment there Harry and Hermione lock eyes, yet we know that they know it isn’t completely right. It’s a standout scene in an otherwise dark and weary film.
Steve: I enjoyed this scene as well. It may not have been in the book, but it effectively summed up so much of what was going on between these characters in a simple, beautiful way. One of my gripes with Part 1 has been how they stuck to the source material so closely that it actually felt stiff and lifeless. I wish they had taken more liberties like this one to tell the story.
Honorable Mention: Goblet of Fire – My Boy
Phil: I think it goes without saying that the arrival of Harry and Cedric’s body at the end of Goblet of Fire is possibly one of the worst scenes in Harry Potter history. In what should have been the emotional high point in the series up to that point ends up being hilarious. Daniel Radcliffe’s acting has seen minor improvements, but he’s still not convincing when he’s trying to cry. Thankfully for Dan, Amos Diggory comes to his rescue to be even worse at crying. After his big “MY BOY” moment, he’s seen screaming and crying about as bad as any actor can. Meanwhile, and this is added thanks to history, Edward Cullan from Twilight is laying there on the ground about as lifeless as he is in those films. At least Patrick Doyle’s score is good here, but it’s not enough to carry the scene. So why does this bad scene make the cut? Because I absolutely love it.
Steve: This scene is ridiculous. It’s also probably the most memorable from any of the films for me. I remember the death of Cedric affecting me much more when I read the book. It showed that Voldemort and his followers actually are really bad people, they have no problem killing a kid. Even though Cedric wasn’t a huge character it established that at some point a body count was likely.
Phil: That about wraps it up for our favorite moments in what has to be one of the best film sagas ever created. I wanted to include scenes from Sorcerer’s Stone, Chamber of Secrets, and (and real clip from) Goblet of Fire, but as much as I like those movies there are no particular moments I felt stood above the few we selected here. At least, not off the top of my head anyway. It’s strange, because I always thought Goblet of Fire was my second favorite Harry Potter film, but after putting this together, I think I’m more inclined to lean towards Order of the Phoenix, or The Half Blood Prince. Regardless, they’re all great movies in their own right, from the playful nature of Sorcerer’s Stone to the dark nature of Deathly Hallows.