The 10 Best Ron Howard Movies, Ranked

5. A Beautiful Mind (2001)

Russell Crowe is hands-down the most heartfelt aspect of this widely acclaimed Ron Howard quasi-biopic. Arguably the director’s most publicised work, ‘A Beautiful Mind’ is based on the life of Nobel Laureate John Nash.

Crowe delivers an honest and painstaking performance as the gifted mathematician who struggles with paranoid schizophrenia. Howard’s assured direction fits well primarily with Crowe’s tortured and genuine act, as the overall plot does bear the brunt of a tad excess melodrama. While the film isn’t completely faithful to Nash’s real-life story, it creates a satisfying atmosphere of its own.


4. Splash (1984)

‘Splash’ was the film that made the world wake up and notice the indubitable talents of Ron Howard. This romantic comedy with a frankly unusual plot, acted as an ideal vantage point from where he went to more ambitious ventures as a filmmaker.

Tom Hanks is quite convincing as the awkward Allen, a grocery business owner who has never been able to pursue romantic relationships following an extraordinary encounter when he was all of 8 years old. His tryst with Madison (Daryl Hannah), a mute woman breathes life into the wonderfully balanced narrative. Howard has always been adept at imparting a light-hearted tone to a sombre issue, and he does the same here to impressive effect.


3. Frost/Nixon (2008)

As with ‘The Beatles: Eight Days a Week’, which came later, Howard was always an unlikely choice to deal with a politically dense subject as the Nixon Interviews of 1977 owing to his previous choice of films. Nevertheless, he manages to leave his audience suitably overwhelmed, backed by astonishing performances from Michael Sheen as journalist David Frost, and Frank Langella as former US President Richard Nixon.

Howard’s astute understanding of the importance of the interview seeped into how he transformed the film from what could have been a mundane series of interviews into something decidedly more tense and consequential.


2. Rush (2013)

It should be no surprise by now, that Howard is quite the specialist at handling biopics, or to put it more tellingly, at dealing with occurrences that have significant impact in a very real manner. ‘Rush’ is no exception, bringing Howard’s gifts as a storyteller under the spotlight once again.

‘Rush’ is exhilarating cinema at its finest. It is briskly presented, exquisitely shot, and possesses a stylised technique befitting its obviously glamorous subject matter- the pulsating rivalry of pioneering racing drivers James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl).

Both the leads deliver knockout performances, keeping their surprisingly subtle feud intact throughout the film. Refreshingly, they portray quite contrasting pictures as professionals; the flamboyant and rash Hunt as opposed to the precise and reticent Lauda.


1. Apollo 13 (1995)

‘Apollo 13’ is the epitome of Howard’s patent handling of real events, and is a technical masterpiece in its own right. This docudrama deals with a crucial episode in the storied history of the US space drive.

Howard’s unfaltering sense of realism was evidenced in his approach to the film’s subject. He employed NASA expertise in training his cast. He also shot scenes in a reduced-gravity aircraft, much like real-life astronaut training. The way Howard incorporates gravitas and nerve-wracking anticipation in the plot is first-rate, as the audience would be quite aware of the infamous mishap and its conclusion. The principal cast of Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, and Bill Paxton portray the brave heroes of the failed mission with dedication and poise.

It is striking to realise that a story that demanded a plethora of visual effects had a brilliantly simple plot that underlined human innovation, ambition, and zeal.

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