Can Harry Potter win an Oscar?

The blockbuster series has come up empty at past Academy Awards — but critics are quite enchanted by the massively popular Deathly Hallows Part 2

Rupert Grint, Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson attend the New York premiere of 'Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2': Some critics say the series' final film deserves a Best Picture
(Image credit: Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images)

Harry Potter may have defeated Voldemort and saved the wizarding world, but there's one accomplishment that's still eludes him: Oscar. Over the course of the first seven Harry Potter films, the franchise racked up nine Academy Award nominations — all in the technical categories — and no wins. Could Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 be the film that changes that? Not only is the eight installment of the series shattering box-office records, it has cast a spell over critics, too. Its 97 percent critics' approval rating at Rotten Tomatoes is the highest by far for any film in wide release this year, besting presumed Best Picture contenders Tree of Life and Midnight in Paris. So will Hollywood send off the blockbuster franchise with its first ever Best Picture nomination?

Harry has a chance... but it's still early: Academy voters have a great opportunity to reward "not just one acclaimed movie, but the whole beloved franchise," says Gary Sussman at Moviefone. But while the latest Potter flick may be the best, most successful movie so far this year, there are still six months of Oscar contenders to consider — and those films are the more Academy-friendly "biopics, literary adaptations and historical dramas." Still, the Academy hosted a screening that earned an enthusiastic response from voters, an "encouraging sign" that the movie is being seriously considered "on its merits," rather than being dismissed as a kiddie film.

"Harry Potter and the Oscar oddsmakers"

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

This year's rule change hurts Harry: The film would have a real chance if there was still a guaranteed 10 nominees in the Best Picture race, like there was the last two years, says Steve Pond at The Wrap. But new rules that say the category will have between five and 10 contenders means scoring a nomination will be "tough." Only films that are ranked first on five percent of the ballots — that means 250 voters must consider it the best of the year — will be nominated. The Academy has a "famously conservative (though changing) body of voters," many of whom are likely to think that when it comes to J.K. Rowling's epic, "in the end, it's still wands and gremlins."

"Can Harry Potter power his way to a Best Picture nomination?"

All Oscar hope lies with Snape: The major Oscar race where Deathly Hallows Part 2 can "really make its mark" is in the supporting actor category, says Gregory Ellwood at HitFix. Alan Rickman, who for ten years has played Professor Severus Snape, "is a sentimental favorite" for having never scored an Oscar nod in his long career. It certainly helps, too, that his handling of the film's big twist amounted to quite "an emotional turn," even for viewers who aren't fans of the Potter franchise. It may be too early to predict Best Picture for Deathly Hallows, but "it's not too early to bang the drum for Rickman."

"Alan Rickman may be Harry Potter's best shot at Oscar"

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.