Columbus Day: Chris Columbus's Ten Best Movies

Director Chris Columbus (who once upon a time did go by Christopher, I swear I remember it) has no doubt been dodging Christopher Columbus jokes his whole life, although he's embraced it somewhat with his 1492 Pictures banner.

As a writer and director, though, he's made a name for himself (pun intended) with a lot of middle-of-the-road fare that you might not even know any of the names behind, but it's a nice little film that you would stop on if you saw it while channel surfing.

Presented in chronological order, the ten best movies from the mind of director Chris Columbus:


The first of two films on this list where Columbus is only a screenwriter and didn't actually direct the film by himself, Gremlins is what put him on the map in Hollywood--and for good reason. Paired with the next item on the list, just about anybody could write their ticket for a few years.

The Goonies

One of the greatest movies of Richard Donner's career and arguably the movie that most epitomizes filmmaking in the '80s, The Goonies is arguably the best movie on this list.

Adventures in Babysitting

Still the definitive big screen presentation of Marvel Comics's Thor.

Home Alone

Let's try to forget about the sequels and remember how completely implausible it is to consider a family comedy being one of the top ten highest-grossing movies of all time. That happened! Plus, continuing Columbus's trend of awesome collaborators, you've got John Hughes on script duties.

Mrs. Doubtfire

Yeah, it's a pretty ridiculous premise and arguably was done better by Arrested Development as a parody, but like Home Alone before it, this movie was just flat-out iconic in its day. The fact that people are still making jokes on it in 2012 tells you all you need to know.

Only the Lonely

One of the weaker links on the list, this one makes it for two reasons: One, Columbus has only directed 16 movies, including one documentary nobody watched, a lot of bad sequels and some pretty forgettable stuff. Two, a mediocre John Candy movie is still better than most of what we get these days.

Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone &

Harry Potter & the Chamber of Secrets

These don't really require justification, do they? They aren't the best in the series, maybe, but in terms of Columbus's directorial oeuvre, they're arguably the best of his career.


One of a small handful of feature-film musicals made in the last 20 years that actually managed to make money. I don't get it myself, but my ex-girlfriend watched this flick at least once a week.


I Love You, Beth Cooper

I never saw this one, but customers at the video store I used to run told me that it was a fun, faithful adaptation. It's most memorable, to me, as the film that really solidified Hayden Panettiere as somebody who couldn't seem to catch a break. Heroes had really started flailing and, as the central focus of the first season and one of the prettiest girls in NBC's lineup, they took a feature role, presumably in the hopes of spreading her wings, but in spite of generally positive word of mouth and a cute, funny trailer, the movie flamed out.