50 Greatest Harry Potter Moments

Dumbledore's drinking game

After discovering that the secret of Voldemort's return lies in the fragments of his soul that have been split and shared between various Horcruxes, Dumbledore and Harry travel to the location of one of these objects with the intention of destroying it.

In order to collect the locket, Dumbledore has to relentlessly chug a mind-altering liquid; a task Harry has to enforce. Things are made a little more urgent when a horde of distinctly Gollum-esque creatures begin to close in on the pair…

"Well-mannered frivolity"

Professor McGonagall is often underrated amongst the Hogwarts teachers, perhaps because she lacks the showy moments that are bestowed on the other senior members of staff.

But Maggie Smith is never less than wonderful in the role, and she gets a chance to shine in this scene when she's introducing the far-from-enthusiastic students to the rules of the Yule Ball. The scene is capped with a lovely waltz lesson with Ron as her partner.

Ashes to ashes

Gary Oldman's Sirius Black was an extremely welcome presence in Part III , bringing the kind of light-dark duality that only Alan Rickman really matches for ambiguity.

Oldman didn't return properly to Part IV , but he does speak to Harry by means of the fire in the Gryffindor common room, his face appearing in the ashes. It develops the strong relationship between Potter and Black (and Radcliffe always seems to raise his acting game whenever Oldman's around), and impresses more than the similar (but underwhelming) fire effect in Order of the Phoenix .

Exchange Students

Goblet of Fire remains one of the strongest entries in the Potter movie canon, and there's a palpable sense of wonder during the scene in which the students from two other magical educational institutes arrive to take part in the Tri-Wizard tournament.

The beautiful, butterfly-emitting young ladies from Beauxbatons Academy arrive via a flying carriage drawn by winged horses, while the burly lads from the Durmstrang Institute come by way of an impressively macho ship that travels underwater. In case you were getting bored of Hogwarts, this puts the magic right back into learning.

Dumbledore's stylish escape

When Umbridge discovers the secret training sessions that 'Dumbledore's Army' are partaking in, she wastes no time ousting Albus as the head of Hogwarts. Dumbledore refuses to let the students take the blame, and when his arrest is ordered, he marks a smart getaway.

His pet bird Fawkes flies above him, and as Dumbledore claps, the two disappear, disintegrating into flames, with Kingsley Shacklebolt (George Harris) pointing out: "You may not like him, Minister, but you can't deny: Dumbledore's got style!"

The Yule Ball

Well, the Yule Ball itself actually comprises a number of top moments.

The ballroom is decked out in a delightfully Christmassy fashion (the HP movies are almost synonymous with festive excitement). Hermione gets dolled up, giving Emma Watson the first chance to hint at how she will become a Burberry model later in her career.

Hagrid also gets a shot at romance with Olympe Maxime, the super-tall headmistress of Beauxbatons. To top it all off, Jarvis Cocker is the singer of the band playing the ball. What more could you want for a Christmas party?

Harry and Hermione get teary

The series had gradually become gripped by the central trio's burgeoning hormones, and by Part VI they were in full, undeniable effect. Hermione had bizarrely fallen for ginger best mate Ron, while Harry was lusting after Ginny Weasley, after his relationship with Cho Chang fizzled out.

When Harry and Hermione sit together lamenting their unrequited love affairs, it's a nice understated moment in the series (with just a small, subtle dash of VFX in the form of Hermione's birds), and it's evidence that their friendly chemistry has survived a decade of movie-making.

Dementors in the Underpass

The fifth movie in the franchise opens with Harry sitting in a park, being bullied by his cousin Dudley and his cronies, but he soon has bigger things to worry about in the spectral form of Dementors.

The opening is strikingly shot, and with the Dementors arrival the auburn sky soon becomes oppressively overcast. Harry makes it as far as the underpass before the Dementors catch up with him and force him to break a golden rule: using a spell outside of Hogwarts.

"It's levi-O-sa"

Before romance was even a twinkle in this pairs's eyes, they had a nice bit of chemistry in a magic lesson. While the kiddies' acting was never in the Haley Joel Osment/Dakota Fanning leagues, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson always fared a little better than Radcliffe.

When Hermione corrects Ron's spellcasting in terms of pronunciation ('It's levi-O-sa, not levio-SA!'), it's an incredibly cute moment, and evidence that the leads' chemistry was often better than their acting skills.

Ron gets lucky

Harry wins a bottle of liquid luck from Professor Slughorn, thanks to the mysterious half-blood prince's markings in his textbook that are sending him to the top of the class.

Ron is fretting about his role as a keeper for the Gryffindor Quidditch team, and Harry feigns adding a dash of 'luck' to Ron's drink for the placebo effect. Without realising the trick, Ron is imbued with a fresh burst of confidence, and his showboating defensive skills are something to see.

It makes a nice change for Ron to have a bit of fun too, after being a bit of a jerk for the last few movies. The lighter side of Ron is explored further when he falls under the spell of the particularly powerful love potion.

Matt Maytum
Editor, Total Film

I'm the Editor at Total Film magazine, overseeing the running of the mag, and generally obsessing over all things Nolan, Kubrick and Pixar. Over the past decade I've worked in various roles for TF online and in print, including at GamesRadar+, and you can often hear me nattering on the Inside Total Film podcast. Bucket-list-ticking career highlights have included reporting from the set of Tenet and Avengers: Infinity War, as well as covering Comic-Con, TIFF and the Sundance Film Festival.