Why BAFTA is celebrating the Harry Potter films

Whether you agree with BAFTA’s decision to award the Harry Potter franchise with a big fat gong at this year’s ceremony (Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema since you ask) or not, you have to admit that the $5.4billion the first six films have grossed worldwide makes them pretty special. So we decided to join with BAFTA and celebrate all that has been good, bad and just plain ugly in the most successful franchise of all time.

Best Acting Transformation
An obvious place to start- but how much has Daniel Radcliffe improved throughout the films? As a child he gave Keanu Reeves a run for his money in the ‘Most likely to resemble a WOODEN coffee table’ category, but in the last couple of films he has actually demonstrated a bit of… acting ability. Cringeworthy dance with Hermione aside, he looked genuinely upset when Sirius died, managed to portray utter despair when Dumbledore copped it and did the awkward teenage snogging scenes with Ginny quite well. It’s just a shame the films are ending just as he is finding his range.

Best Cameo
Emma Thompson as the batty Professor Trelawny was worth a shout, as was Martin Bayfield (ex-England rugby star) as the young Hagrid in Chamber of Secrets. Lenny Henry was the shrunken shouting head at the front of the Knight Bus, John Hurt is Mr Ollivander and the fat lady in the painting is none other than Dawn French. But the best cameo for being just so outlandishly cool is Jarvis Cocker as the singer in the wizarding band in Goblet of Fire. Add in the drummer and guitarist from Radiohead and you have one hell of a teenage gig.

Worst ‘Look! They are all grown up’ moment
So many contenders. Harry’s wet sloppy snog with Cho Chang was vomit inducing, as was Ron’s lip locking fest with Jessie Cave (who was brilliant by the way). Harry zipping up Ginny’s dress whilst looking like he wanted to rip it off – please, feel free to shudder at the mental images- only narrowly lost out due to the brilliant laugh that was generated from a Weasley twin watching the entire sordid thing. But in grown up terms- did anyone on this earth really need to see Harry and Hermione covered in silver body paint nakedly cavorting in a sexual way? NO NO NO. I don’t care how good Emma Watson looked- this is wrong on every level and will take years of therapy to erase from my fragile mind. They are children for God’s sake!

Best Special Effects
Let’s face it- the first few films were awful. Luckily, special effects have been coming on leaps and bounds recently- thereby making the last few films bloody good in a stylistic way. The imagining of the Quidditch World Cup Stadium in Goblet of Fire was stunning visually, as were the creepy suck out your soul dementers in Prisoner of Azkaban. But the best special effect thing we have seen so far has to be Voldemort’s face. Yes, without Ralph Fiennes he is nothing, but that skin colour! That nose! Those eyes! Like botched cosmetic surgery coupled with a bad case of snake envy, whoever was in charge of imagining that- we salute you.

Worst Defence against the Dark Arts Teacher
Given we had a new one per film (or book to be pedantic) there had to be a shocker right? This one is a toss-up between Quirrell and Lockhart- the former for being not evil enough, the latter for being not evil at all. Given who followed- David Thewlis as the kind but troubled Lupin, sinister Mad Eye Moody and bitch with a creepy smile Umbridge, the first two were a bit weak and wimpy. Quirrell wasn’t helped by his big scary reveal ‘I have the daddy of evil growing off the back of my head’ thing happening whilst on screen with the woodenest of wooden Radcliffe’s (see above), but even so, as a villain he didn’t cut it. Luckily he didn’t stick around to ruin the next few films.

Moment most pleasing on the eye
The animators who came up with the designs for the story about the deathly hallows deserve Oscars. Ok, this might be a little OTT but who honestly went to see The Deathly Hallows Part One and didn’t fall in love with The Tale of the Three Brothers, made by Framestone, a visual effects company. Sheer, breath taking beauty.

Moment least pleasing on the eye
Harry in the forbidden forest in the first film is a definite option, when a Voldemort shaped creature tries to attack him- but no wait; it is actually the ghost of Christmas Future from The Muppets Christmas Carol! I kid not- you can see this bad ass wizard thing is actually made of foam, not to mention is moves as if it is on wheels. Hardly scary even for a five year old. But for sheer pinkness, Dolorus Umbridge’s room has to be the most disgusting thing seen in this franchise. Enough pink to affront the most girly of girls, with dressed up kittens on every wall. So vomit inducing it is amazing hospitals don’t use this clip instead of pumping drunken students’ stomachs.

Best Ensemble Cast
I’m not going to pick a film- the franchise wins this category, hands down. Shall I name the great and good of British stage and screen legends that have graced these films with their luminous presence? No- it would take too long and tire my fast typing fingers out. Let’s just say- if they were educated at Oxbridge, your mum has heard of them, they have appeared at The Globe or in a Richard Curtis film, then they will be in one of these films.

So there you have it, a celebration if you will of the soon to be eight Harry Potter films that have defined British cinema for the last decade. They have given us Emma Watson, and less enthusiastically, Rupert Grint. They have also wowed us, appalled us and frankly confused us in equal measure. A definite mixed bag- but one that is deserving of its BAFTA. Well done children.

And now… Which Harry Potter Character Are You? Take our rather unusual Harry Potter quiz…

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