With a huge and ever-growing fanbase, adapting the Harry Potter series for the big screen could have been a daunting task – but these four filmmakers made it look easy. Beginning with Chris Columbus and ending with David Yates, the film franchise has transformed a beloved children’s book series into a worldwide phenomenon.
These are the highest-rated films on IMDb for the filmmakers who have each left their distinctive, indelible mark on the wizarding world, adapting the story of an orphan with a heart of gold for billions of fans. Although most of the directors’ other films are far from fantasy epics, it’s easy to trace their artistic roots and see parallels between their work before, during and after. Harry Potter.
ten The Legend of Tarzan (2016) 6.2 – David Yates
After crossing the last square Harry Potter films and planned to direct the entire fantastic beasts series, David Yates has become Wizarding World’s quintessential director. Although no longer television director, 2016 The Legend of Tarzan was his first feature film after wrapping Deathly Hallows.
The film was criticized for its slowness and generic premise, although the addition of George Washington Williams (Samuel L. Jackson) received praise. Yates’ work experience on resume clearly helped him direct the fast-paced action sequences and lead a project with such a massive budget. Both films also required a lot of CGI; Yates’ skill at balancing live action with CG also shines.
9 Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994) 7.1 – Mike Newell
After American and Mexican filmmakers (Columbus and Cuarón, respectively) helmed the series, Mike Newell brought a British perspective to the Harry Potter franchise. Four weddings and a funeral was a huge financial success and was one of the first romantic comedies where the guy falls first.
The eccentric and erased characters of Four weddings are not only extremely British, they have a lot in common with Harry and his friends, especially Neville Longbottom and Luna Lovegood. While non-British audiences might have been shocked by the brutality with which the resume the characters spoke to each other, UK viewers found it natural and worthy of the source material.
8 Mrs. Doubtfire (1993) 7.1 – Chris Columbus
This much-loved classic about a divorced father who finds an unorthodox way to spend more time with his children is one of Columbus’ most memorable films. The Robin Williams-directed comedy-drama film was a mega-hit and has since inspired a Broadway musical adaptation.
Columbus is best known for making comedies about broken families. His talent for casting and directing children and creating financially successful films with universal appeal is beautifully displayed in Mrs. Doubtfire, and was a big part of listening to him to adapt the Harry Potter series. The two of Columbus resume the films succeeded in both attracting new fans and appealing to old ones.
seven Enchanted April (1991) 7.3 – Mike Newell
Enchanted April, based on a novel by Elizabeth von Arnim, showcases Newell’s skill in adapting a book for the big screen. The film tells the story of four English women who bond while staying in an Italian castle, far from their dreary life in London after the First World War.
The film was nominated for three Oscars, raising Newell’s profile. While the period piece is far from both grown-up and fantastical, it features excellent production design and sweeping cinematography that help transport the viewer to a more magical world. It also proved that Newell could direct big-name actors like Miranda Richardson, Alfred Molina, and Jim Broadbent.
6 Y Tu Mamá También (2001) 7.7 – Alfonso Cuarón
Cuarón’s bittersweet coming-of-age story about two teenagers who go on a road trip with a mysterious older woman showcases the director’s unique storytelling ability. The Mexican film earned him his first Oscar nomination for Best Writing, Original Screenplay.
Cuarón’s ability to work with young actors shines in Y tu mamá too, something he had already proven with A little princess (1995) and probably helped him get hired to direct prisoner of azkaban. Cuarón’s legacy in the wizarding world lies in his move to more “Muggle” attire to make the characters easier to understand, and his ability to pull off more natural performances from the leads.
5 Home Alone (1990) 7.7 – Chris Columbus
This holiday classic about a child who traps his house to protect it from burglars after being abandoned by his family over Christmas is arguably Columbus’ most beloved film. It spawned several sequels and countless memes, and made Macaulay Culkin a household name.
Columbus’ touch is light, charming and humorous, attributes he brought to the first two Harry Potter movies. Alone at home Kevin has a lot in common with neglected Harry: they are both driven by love to rise to the occasion and face much older and more experienced foes. Columbus’ instinctive understanding of children helped create some of the best children’s characters in movie history.
4 Rome (2018) 7.7 – Alfonso Cuaron
Rome won Cuarón Academy Awards for Best Achievement in Direction and Cinematography and was nominated for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay. Based on his childhood in Mexico City, this is Cuarón’s most personal project to date.
The minimalist black-and-white film has little in common with the Wizarding World on surface value, but it’s yet again a great example of the auteur’s natural ability to extract powerful performances from child actors. The lonely and courageous protagonist Cleo (Oscar nominee Yalitza Aparicio) recalls Sara and Becky in A little princess and, of course, Harry.
3 Donnie Brasco (1997) 7.7 – Mike Newell
Newell’s highest-rated film is a gangster thriller about an FBI agent who begins to doubt his mission as he infiltrates the mob. The film avoids mafia clichés to focus on the relationship between Joe Pistone alias Donnie Brasco (Johnny Depp) and Lefty Ruggiero (Al Pacino).
Newell didn’t bring anything new to the genre, but its storytelling is neat, smart, and benefits greatly from the nuanced performances of its two leads. It is easy to see parallels between Donnie Brasco and Goblet of Firewhich is truly a crime, espionage and multiple murder mystery thriller and marked the beginning of a change in tone for the series.
2 Gravity (2013) 7.7 – Alfonso Cuaron
Cuarón’s blockbuster Gravity won him his first Oscars, in the categories of Best Achievement in Film Direction and Editing and was nominated for Best Picture. In it, a scientist stranded in space who feels estranged from humanity must find her way back to Earth.
In his heart, Gravity is not a sci-fi thriller, but a story about the painful beauty of human beings. It’s through her harrowing experience that Ryan (a stellar Sandra Bullock) realizes that despite all she’s lost and suffered, life is still worth living. Although it is doubtful that Cuarón thought of resume when he wrote the screenplay, Ryan’s arc has similarities to Harry’s in Deathly Hallows.
1 Children of Men (2006) 7.9 – Alfonso Cuarón
children of men is Cuarón’s first project after prisoner of azkaban; both films have the same rating on IMDb. The dystopian action-thriller set in an infertile society is about a group of activists trying to save a pregnant asylum seeker.
Cuarón used his experience working on Harry Potter, with its action sets, large cast and big budget to create this masterpiece, often known for its incredibly intricate single shots. In all his films, the director ingeniously uses the background (as in the PoA Leaky Cauldron) to give audiences clues to the world of history and infuse his work with a rich, detailed and varied perspective.
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