Ron Howard’s 65th Birthday: All the Director’s Movies Ranked from Worst to Best


Ron Howard, who turns 65 today, first rose to fame as a young actor. By the age of 6, Ron had already secured a major role in The Andy Griffith Show, which ran for 8 seasons. But it is as a director he really made his mark on Hollywood—masterminding movies like Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind, The Da Vinci Code and Solo: A Star Wars Story.

Howard was born in Oklahoma on March 1, 1954, the first son of a theatrical family: both his mother and his father were actors, and his younger brother Clint would become one too, appearing in many of his brother’s films.

His starring roles in George Lucas’s American Graffiti and the hit television series Happy Days made him a household name. Between seasons of Happy Days he directed his first movie, Grand Theft Auto (1977), a low-budget action comedy.

His first big directing success came in 1982, when he worked with Michael Keaton and Shelley Long on Night Shift. In a Washington Post review, Gary Arnold wrote: "Night Shift makes it apparent that Howard acquired an enormous amount of savvy about comic staging and acting during those 20 years or so on the tube."

Further hit comedies followed in the shape of Splash (1984) and Parenthood (1989). Howard would go on to make another four movies with Splash star Tom Hanks, the best of which was 1995’s Apollo 13, about the aborted 1970 lunar mission. It was nominated for nine Oscars, including Best Picture.

In 2002, A Beautiful Mind won Best Picture and he was named Best Director. Howard and Frost/Nixon were again nominated in both categories in 2009, but lost out to Danny Boyle and Slumdog Millionaire.

Last year he directed Solo: A Star Wars Story , taking over from  Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, who were fired following "creative differences" with Lucasfilm.

“It was always my dream to be a director,” Howard has said. “A lot of it had to do with controlling my own destiny, because as a young actor you feel at everyone's disposal. But I wanted to become a leader in the business.”

He has done just that. To celebrate his 65th birthday, Newsweek has analyzed data from review aggregation websites Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic and IMDb to rank all of the movies he has directed, from worst to best.

01 The Dilemma
Universal Pictures

25. The Dilemma (2011). Total score: 47%. IMDb users: 5.3. Metacritic: 46. Rotten Tomatoes: 4.3. Rotten Tomatoes users: 2.8. 
Starring: Vince Vaughn, Kevin James, Winona Ryder, Jennifer Connelly, Channing Tatum, Queen Latifah, Clint Howard. 
Plot summary: A man discovers that his best friend's wife is having an affair.
What the critics said: "The film is hardly a disaster. It has some effective comedy and a sense of reality but it's not the kind of engrossing package that Ron Howard usually delivers." Paul Byrnes, Sydney Morning Herald

02 Inferno
Columbia Pictures

24. Inferno (2016). Total score: 48%. IMDb users: 6.2. Metacritic: 42. Rotten Tomatoes: 4.6. Rotten Tomatoes users: 2.9. 
Starring: Tom Hanks, Felicity Jones, Irrfan Khan, Omar Sy, Ben Foster. 
Plot summary: When Robert Langdon wakes up in an Italian hospital with amnesia, he teams up with Dr. Sienna Brooks, and together they must race across Europe against the clock to foil a deadly global plot.
What the critics said: "Ron Howard's mostly lame adaptation of Dan Brown's wholly lame novel." David Edelstein, New York Magazine/Vulture

03 Grand Theft Auto
New World Pictures

23. Grand Theft Auto (1977). Total score: 48.63%. IMDb users: 5.4. Metacritic: 45. Rotten Tomatoes: 4.8. Rotten Tomatoes users: 2.8. 
Starring: Ron Howard, Nancy Morgan, Elizabeth Rogers, Rance Howard, Clint Howard. 
Plot summary: A rich girl steals her dad's Rolls Royce and heads off to Las Vegas to get married. However, her angry parents, a jealous suitor, and a bunch of reward seekers are determined to stop her.
What the critics said: "Mindless fun, a carnival ride on the screen, with cars on two wheels, cars flying off ramps, cars in demolition derbies, cars on fire, cars piled on other cars—a Roman circus for the automotive age. It's the sort of thing that, if you like this sort of thing, you'll like it." Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

04 The Da Vinci Code
Columbia Pictures

22. The Da Vinci Code (2006). Total score: 51.13%. IMDb users: 6.6. Metacritic: 46. Rotten Tomatoes: 4.7. Rotten Tomatoes users: 3.2. 
Starring: Tom Hanks, Audrey Tautou, Jean Reno, Paul Bettany, Alfred Molina. 
Plot summary: A murder inside the Louvre, and clues in Da Vinci paintings, lead to the discovery of a religious mystery protected by a secret society for two thousand years, which could shake the foundations of Christianity.
What the critics said: "The most controversial thriller of the year turns out to be about as exciting as watching your parents play Sudoku." Ann Hornaday, Washington Post. 

05 Gung Ho
Paramount Pictures

21. Gung Ho (1986). Total score: 53.13%. IMDb users: 6.2. Metacritic: 48. Rotten Tomatoes: 5.3. Rotten Tomatoes users: 3. 
Starring: Michael Keaton, Gedde Watanabe, George Wendt, Mimi Rogers, John Turturro, Clint Howard, Rance Howard. 
Plot summary: When a Japanese car company buys an American plant, the American liaison must mediate the clash of work attitudes between the foreign management and native labor.
What the critics said: "Examples of the screenplay's desperation: There are not one, but two, fistfights in lieu of dramatic development. Scenes on the assembly line are choreographed like music videos. A girlfriend is introduced for Keaton, and then inexplicably dropped. Some scenes are played as if the movie were realistic, others as if it were a sit-com, still others as if it were slapstick." Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

06 How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Universal Pictures

20. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000). Total score: 53.88%. IMDb users: 6.1. Metacritic: 46. Rotten Tomatoes: 5.6. Rotten Tomatoes users: 3.2. 
Starring: Jim Carrey, Taylor Momsen, Jeffrey Tambor, Christine Baranski, Clint Howard, Rance Howard. 
Plot summary: On the outskirts of Whoville, there lives a green, revenge-seeking Grinch who plans on ruining the Christmas holiday for all of the citizens of the town.
What the critics said: "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas is one overstuffed movie, but it's by no means a turkey." Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

07 Backdraft
Universal Pictures

=18. Backdraft (1991). Total score: 54%. IMDb users: 6.7. Metacritic: 38. Rotten Tomatoes: 6.1. Rotten Tomatoes users: 3.4. 
Starring: Kurt Russell, William Baldwin, Robert De Niro, Donald Sutherland, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Scott Glenn, Rebecca De Mornay, Clint Howard. 
Plot summary: Two Chicago firefighter brothers who don't get along have to work together while a dangerous arsonist is on the loose.
What the critics said: "The spectacular fire sequences, which must have been hellish to film, are powerfully enveloping on screen, thanks especially to the eerie effect of the title." Janet Maslin, New York Times

08 Angels & Demons
Columbia Pictures

=18. Angels & Demons (2009). Total score: 54%. IMDb users: 6.7. Metacritic: 48. Rotten Tomatoes: 5.1. Rotten Tomatoes users: 3.4. 
Starring: Tom Hanks, Ewan McGregor, Ayelet Zurer, Stellan Skarsgård. 
Plot summary: Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon works with a nuclear physicist to solve a murder and prevent a terrorist act against the Vatican during one of the significant events within the church.
What the critics said: "Saying that Angels & Demons is a lot better than its predecessor, The Da Vinci Code, is like saying that this swine flu outbreak isn't nearly as bad as the last." Tom Maurstad, Dallas Morning News

09 Far and Away
Universal Pictures

17. Far and Away (1992). Total score: 54.5%. IMDb users: 6.6. Metacritic: 49. Rotten Tomatoes: 5.3. Rotten Tomatoes users: 3.2. 
Starring: Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Thomas Gibson, Colm Meaney, Jared Harris, Clint Howard. 
Plot summary: A young Irish couple flee to the States, but subsequently struggle to obtain land and prosper freely.
What the critics said: "Far and Away... is the director's attempt to step into the cinematic shoes of directors John Ford and David Lean. And, certainly, he's stepped into something with this sprawling, old-fashioned melodrama." Hal Hinson, Washington Post

10 In the Heart of the Sea
Warner Bros.

16. In the Heart of the Sea (2015). Total score: 55.13%. IMDb users: 6.9. Metacritic: 47. Rotten Tomatoes: 5.5. Rotten Tomatoes users: 3.3. 
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Cillian Murphy, Brendan Gleeson, Ben Whishaw, Tom Holland. 
Plot summary: A recounting of a New England whaling ship's sinking by a giant whale in 1820, an experience that later inspired the great novel Moby-Dick.
What the critics said: "If you want a Ron Howard movie about a man obsessed with a creature from the deep, In the Heart of the Sea, sadly, is not the place to start. Try Splash." Anthony Lane, New Yorker.

11 Edtv
Universal Pictures

15. Edtv (1999). Total score: 55.75%. IMDb users: 6.1. Metacritic: 48. Rotten Tomatoes: 6.3. Rotten Tomatoes users: 2.6. 
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Jenna Elfman, Geoffrey Blake, Gedde Watanabe, Woody Harrelson, Sally Kirkland, Martin Landau, Ellen DeGeneres, Dennis Hopper, Rob Reiner, Clint Howard. 
Plot summary: A video store clerk agrees to have his life filmed by a camera crew for a television show.
What the critics said: "I enjoyed a lot of the movie in a relaxed sort of fashion; it's not essential or original in the way The Truman Show was, and it hasn't done any really hard thinking about the ways we interact with TV. It's a businesslike job, made to seem special at times because of the skill of the actors... After it's over, we've laughed some, smiled a little and cared not really very much." Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times