MovieBuff’s Top 10 Harry Potter Film Scenes

Posted: January 19, 2014 by moviebuff801 in Lists

By: Michael “MovieBuff801” Dennos

I love the Harry Potter series.  Not only does it hold great nostalgic value to me because I grew up reading the books and watching the movies, I just really love and get involved in the story and characters.  Recently, I pulled another one of my marathons of all eight films, and doing so gave me ideas for two lists concerning the franchise.  The first, you’re about to read and the second is on its way after this.

So, for now, enjoy my Top 10 Harry Potter Film Scenes:

Oh, and spoilers.

10. The Quidditch Match (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone)

In terms of action scenes of the series, there are most likely ones in the later films I’d consider “better” (there’s even another one later on in the list), namely some of the stuff in the last couple of movies, but this scene gets in mainly due to the sense of wonder and excitement of seeing Quidditch in action for the first time that comes with it.  Indeed, what an introduction to the sport this scene was. It’s fast, exciting and serves as a nice bit of action in the film’s Second Act. Chris Columbus managed to capture the thrill of Quidditch rather nicely and this scene definitely serves as one of the more memorable set pieces of the franchise.

“The Quaffle is released…AND THE GAME BEGINS!”

9. The Shrieking Shack (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban)

There are so many scenes to choose from for this list in Prisoner of Azkaban, but I’m going with The Shrieking Shack.  Story-wise, this is a great culmination of so much build-up and is a captivating scene.  Acting-wise, it’s a lot of fun to see such seasoned actors like Gary Oldman, David Thewlis, Alan Rickman and Timothy Spall play off each other.  I particularly like Gary Oldman’s portrayal of Sirius Black in this scene.  I’ve read the books numerous times, and from what I can recall, Sirius in this scene in the book was rather calm and controlled.  But Oldman effectively makes him more agitated, on-edge and slightly unhinged here, which I think accurately reflects the state of mind a person in his position would be feeling.  From a technical standpoint, this scene is still awesome.  Director Alfonso Cuaron employs a lot of low-angle shots throughout this scene which lend it an appropriately off-kilter and eerie feeling.  I maintain that Prisoner of Azkaban is the best-directed installment of the series, and a scene like this only furthers that.

“Only one will die tonight.”

8. Tale of The Three Brothers (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1)

I initially made this list back in the fall of 2011, but neglected to include this scene.  It may not be a dramatically resonant scene in any way, but looking back on it, I have no idea why I neglected to include it to begin with.  So I’m choosing to correct that mistake.  Late in Deathly Hallows: Part 1 when Hermione starts to spin the tale of the magical artifacts of the title, the story is represented in a very cool, Tim Burton-esque style of animation that makes the story all the more interesting to listen to.  And it’s damn good animation, too.  It adds to the storybook-style atmosphere of the whole sequence, but also complements the magically macabre nature of the tale quite well.  I especially like how “connective” the animation is between each new event of the sequence.  All in all, a great and creative scene.

“There were once three brothers who were traveling along a long, winding road at twilight…”

7. Return From The Graveyard (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire)

I realize now just how many scenes related to death appear on this list starting here, but what can I say?  The Harry Potter series has some REALLY effective dramatic moments in that area, and my main criteria in making this list was, “What scenes really affected me the most emotionally either way?”  And this one was one of the first that came to mind.  What makes this one so good, and I’m sure many will agree with me here, is the tone; the way it creepily shifts from an atmosphere of celebration and joy to one of shock and sorrow. Daniel Radcliffe helps sell it, but it’s the actor who plays Diggory’s dad who really makes this scene goosebump-worthy. Some may call it overacting, but I don’t.  I truly feel sorry for the guy every time, despite him having only a handful of screentime in the whole movie.  Even some of the small moments in this scene like Hermione trying to get to Harry as Moody is taking him away….man. Mike Newell really pulled this scene off.

“It’s alright, Harry.  It’s alright.  He’s home.  You both are.”

6. Dumbledore vs. Voldemort (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix)

If anything, this scene proves just how badass a wizard fight can be, especially one between two such as Dumbledore and Voldemort. This scene is quick, intense, gripping and just plain awesome as we get to see magic in these films used in a way we haven’t seen before — that being a badass way.  My only wish is that this scene had been longer, but hey, as it is, it’s still a great bit of action. Beyond that, there’s really not much more to say except…WIZARD FIGHTS ARE FRIGGING AWESOME!

“It was foolish of you to come here tonight, Tom.  The Aurors are on their way.”

“By which time I shall be gone and you…shall be dead.”

5. The Graveyard (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire)

I’m not going to post the entire scene on here, just the beginning. But wow, this whole scene serves as a hell of a climax in the fourth film, a movie that already has plenty of thrills and excitement to go around. This is the big reveal for Voldemort, and his entrance into the series makes for some compelling stuff. Within the course of just a few minutes, Ralph Fiennes brings the character brilliantly to life. Here, we really get a sense of the danger and the heartlessness of Voldemort, as well as his clout. This is a guy with a truly commanding presence, and this scene is every bit as commanding as him. My eyes are just glued to the screen every time I watch this scene, which is one brimming with tension.

“Bone of the father unwillingly given…flesh of the servant willingly sacrificed…and blood of the enemy forcibly taken.”

4. Dumbledore’s Death (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince)

Death scenes sure are something this series has quite an abundance of when all is said and done. But this one, I think, is the best. The tension in this scene is just unbelievable. The suspense just builds and builds through the acting and the editing, even the subtle bit of score. Tom Felton, as he does in the rest of this movie, really acts his ass off in this scene, as does Michael Gambon.  Overall, I think Gambon is at his best as Dumbledore in this movie, so it’s even more satisfying for him to go out (technically) on such a strong scene.  If that wasn’t enough, you then have that final moment between Snape and Dumbledore at the end.  Goose.  Bumps.


3. Harry and Hermione’s Tent Dance (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1)

What a beautiful little scene, beyond me being more fond of the Harry/Hermione pairing than the ones Rowling actually ended up going with.  So you can imagine how much I like the middle portion of Deathly Hallows: Part 1.  Seriously, I could just sit here and write about why I like the idea of Harry and Hermione as a couple so much more than Ron and Hermione or Harry and Ginny, but that’s an entirely different conversation/debate.  But there’s more to why I love this scene than just my personal preferences. The main reason is that so much is said here through no dialogue at all. Within the course of just 2 minutes, David Yates goes through all the points of the Harry/Hermione friendship, suggesting that just maybe something could’ve happened between them, yet still staying true to their characters. Also, this scene serves as a nice moment of levity in the midst of a pretty dark and depressing movie, so the rather sweet tone here is welcome, reminding us that these two are still innocent teenagers just trying to get through a dark situation and that they care enough about each other to make the other smile…even just for a minute. It’s just such a nice, touching little moment, maybe a bit heartbreaking at the same time; it’s hard for me not to smile every time I see it. Oh, and Nick Cave’s “O Children” winds up being the perfect song to go with it.  By this point in the series, I obviously knew the prospect of a Harry/Hermione romance was non-existent, but still, it was more than nice to get a scene like this in an installment where the romantic pairings had been made crystal clear.  That late in the game, I was just extremely grateful to get any Harry/Hermione moment the filmmakers put in (they sure put in a good amount before), and how appropriate that this one would wind up being my favorite of that kind.  Even though I have this scene at #3, I think this is still my favorite scene of the franchise.

2. Dumbledore’s Farewell (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince)

(Scene begins at 1:56)

Just like my #3 pick, this is another scene that works tremendously with absolutely no dialogue at all. This scene is all imagery, emotion and music, and THAT’S why it works so well. You can just FEEL the sadness coming off the screen, through both the performances here and from seeing everybody raise their wands, both in tribute to Dumledore and to clear away the Dark Mark. I’m actually going to be a bit bold here when I say that the filmmakers’ decision to do this scene instead of the more traditional funeral scene from the novel was very wise, as it ended up being far more effective than I imagine the actual scene from the book could have been.  Just like Dumbledore’s death before it, this scene never fails to give me goosebumps every time I see it.

1. Snape’s Memories (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2)

This sequence…wow. Just wow. Easily the best thing from the series that David Yates ever directed, as well as the best use of editing in the franchise from Mark Day, who edited the rest of these films from Order of the Phoenix and on. The way Yates and he bring everything together, from flashbacks to new footage, just feels so fluent and so emotional. You know, a lot of people were saying back when this last installment was released how Alan Rickman should have gotten a Best Supporting Actor nomination for this movie…well, this is why. Rickman is of course great in all of his scenes in this film, but within the course of just a few minutes here, Rickman humanizes Snape brilliantly, and we feel for him in a way we never have before. Rickman sells it every step of the way, as does Yates. It’s also the moment where a lot of things come into perspective for the series, and as such, it’s extremely satisfying.  This was actually the one scene in Deathly Hallows Part 2 that I was worried they’d potentially screw up, but what a relief it was that they delivered in spades with it.  And, yes, I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve ugly-cried at this sequence more than once.  In my opinion, these are the single most emotional minutes of the entire franchise.

“Lily?  After all this time?”


So, what do you think?  Agree, disagree?  Sound off in the comments below!

  1. PG Cooper says:

    Good list. My picks would probably be similar, though my order might be different.

  2. vinnieh says:

    Excellent choices.

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