Should “Harry Potter” Have Won an Oscar Before Now?

Last night, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them managed to do what no Potter film has done before – win an Oscar. But though Colleen Atwood’s Academy Award for Costume Design may be a first for the wizarding world, it’s far from the first time the series has been nominated. In fact, since the release of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in 2001, the franchise has cinched a total of 14 Oscar nominations. In the wake of Atwood’s win, many fans are wondering – should Harry have taken home an Oscar a long time ago?

Let’s review the series’ past nominations:

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

  • Nominations: 3
  • Categories: Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, Best Original Score
  • Lost to: Moulin Rouge! (Best Art Direction & Best Costume Design), The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (Best Original Score)

Verdict: It’s hard to argue with Howard Shore’s magnum opus for Fellowship or the tawdry brilliance of Moulin Rouge. We didn’t mind this loss – surely Harry would emerge victorious another year. Little did we know…

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

  • Nominations: 2
  • Categories: Best Original Score, Best Visual Effects
  • Lost to: Finding Neverland (Best Original Score), Spider-Man 2 (Best Visual Effects)

Verdict: The score of Prisoner of Azkaban may not be quite as iconic as that of the first film, but show me one person who’s still listening to the Finding Neverland score 12 years later. And maybe Lupin’s werewolf transformation looked a little funky, but Spider-Man 2? That was, like, five Spider-Mans ago. The visual effects couldn’t have been that great.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

  • Nominations: 1
  • Category: Best Art Direction
  • Lost to: Memoirs of a Geisha

Verdict: Womp womp womp.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

  • Nominations: 1
  • Category: Best Cinematography
  • Lost to: Avatar

Verdict: James Cameron’s Avatar was a marvel of cinematic design. Harry didn’t stand a chance.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1

  • Nominations: 2
  • Categories: Best Art Direction, Best Visual Effects
  • Lost to: Alice in Wonderland (Best Art Direction), Inception (Best Visual Effects)

Verdict: Inception‘s mind-bending dream worlds probably deserved the Visual Effects win, but Alice in Wonderland is one of those movies that, six years later, no one remembers won an Oscar. Harry could have been a contender!

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2

  • Nominations: 3
  • Categories: Best Art Direction, Best Makeup, Best Visual Effects
  • Lost to: Hugo (Best Art Direction), The Iron Lady (Best Makeup), Hugo (Best Visual Effects)

Verdict: Deathly Hallows – Part 2 probably wasn’t the strongest installment of the series, but a lot of us were still hoping it would pull a Return of the King and win everything it was nominated for. Sigh.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

  • Nominations: 2
  • Categories: Best Costume Design, Best Production Design
  • Lost to: La La Land (Best Production Design)

Verdict: Like a few other films this year (yay Moonlight!), Fantastic Beasts managed to steal an Academy Award right out from under La La Land‘s greedy nose. TAKE THAT, HATERS.


After reviewing the evidence, we can confidently say that Harry at least deserved an Oscar more than Spider-Man 2, Finding Neverland, or Alice in Wonderland did. If only the Ministry’s stock of Time-Turners hadn’t been destroyed…

What are your thoughts? Which deserving Potter performances or achievements weren’t even nominated (the horror!)? Do memories of the 82nd Academy Awards keep you up at night? Let us know!

Jessica J.

I've been making magic at MuggleNet since 2012, when I first joined the staff as a News intern. I've never wavered from the declaration in my childhood journal, circa October 2000: "I LOVE Harry Potter! If I clean my room, my mom says she'll make me a dinner a wizard would love!" Proud Gryffindor; don't hate.