Why This Is Actually The Best Harry Potter Movie

The Harry Potter series is one of the most defining pop-culture entities of the 2000s (so far). The series changed the lives of its stars (and fans) forever, including Emma Watson, who was never the same after starring as Hermione Granger. Even though the main series ended in 2011, fans and critics alike are still debating key questions. Among those, which of the eight Harry Potter movies is actually the best.

While measuring "The Best" of something is largely a subjective matter, a few of the Harry Potter movies have come to dominate this question over the years. Whenever the prospect of naming the best of the series comes up, Prisoner of Azkaban, Half-Blood Prince, and Deathly Hallows Part 2 are typically the top contenders. Collider and Parade, for example, place those three movies as the top three in their rankings of the series.

Compelling arguments can be made for each of them, but when it comes down to it, none are actually the best movie of the series. That title actually belongs to the fourth installment, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

Why 'Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire' is actually the best Harry Potter movie

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is when the series grows up (via Screencrush). While the stakes get higher with each passing school year, Goblet of Fire had the unfathomable task of transitioning the story from schoolyard mischief that largely centers on Harry's own life, to an all-out war with consequences that will affect the entire wizarding world. The film not only makes that transition feel seamless, it does so while maintaining the charm and nostalgia that accompanies watching Harry experience adolescence in all its glory.

The fact the audience can watch Harry fumble over asking a girl out for the very first time and watch the darkest wizard to ever live return and threaten humanity in the same roughly two-hour span without it feeling even slightly jarring is a feat unto itself. 

Further, while the film does what it needs to propel the series forward, it is also extremely ambitious in another endeavor: expanding the Wizarding World beyond Hogwarts and Great Britain. The major events of the film, the Quidditch World Cup and the Tri-Wizard Tournament, show the audience just how big the Wizarding World is for the first — and only — time in the series. The film maintains its heart but also opens the door to the limitless possibilities of the story's world (per Roger Ebert). The film's creators did all this while working with over 700 pages of source material and the confines of a movie runtime and completely stuck the landing.