Angelina’s ‘80s Archive: Ranking John Hughes Movies

Anyone who knows me knows that I love John Hughes. My posters, books, shirts, records, and designated DVD shelf devoted to his films speaks for itself, but this week I will be speaking to that love a little more. Given that the love here is not unconditional, here is a ranking of 10 of John Hughes’s films, from my favorite to my least favorite (watch out for one selection from the ‘90s). Alongside each ranking are Hughes’s role(s) in creating the film.

  1. 1. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) director, producer, writer, cameo

    Central Cinema window

    I have been saving writing a full article about this movie since I started this column, and I think I will continue to hold off for a while. I don’t rightly know how to write briefly about something I love so much. While I grew up on Home Alone and Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, this is the movie that introduced pre-teen Angelina to the realm of the John Hughes teen film, and probably started my love for ‘80s films in general. I watch it every time I feel sick, and it always makes me feel a bit better. (Most recently, after having my wisdom teeth removed). I cannot even count the number of times I have seen it, to the point where I annoyingly recite it word for word as the scenes play out. Ferris’s relationship with Sloane feels like true love, as does the director’s with the city of Chicago. Every performance is spot-on. I quote it on the daily, and a movie theater-sized poster of it hangs above my bed, reminding me that “Leisure Rules.” I dream of the day I get to visit Chicago and rent (not steal) a Ferrari. This film, as Ferris would say, “is so choice.” As crazy as it may sound, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off changed my life.  And I have John Hughes to thank for that.

  2. 2. Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (1987) director, producer, writer, lyricist

    People sitting on a plane from behind

    This film is a cherished tradition in my family on Thanksgiving. It’s as much a part of the holiday as turkey and mashed potatoes, and I would not miss watching it for the world. You can read my full article on it here.

  3. 3. Pretty in Pink (1986) producer, writer

    Pink neon love sign

    I’ve covered this film before as well. It holds a very special place in my heart. 

  4. 4. Home Alone (1990) producer, writer

    Christmas lights on a house

    The only reason this movie is in 4th place is because it can only be watched at Christmas. (However, given that that means I’ve watched it about 20 times, I really had to try to find an excuse for it being this low.) Home Alone is in my top 5 favorite Christmas movies of all time. John Hughes brings his signature blend of comedic and heartfelt moments, and Macaulay Culkin is, once again, perfect. I find myself saying “He is so cute” every two seconds, every time I watch this. I can’t help it! I truly believe that no one else could have played Kevin McAllister. Also, Catherine O’Hara is simply wonderful as Kevin’s mother, Kate McAllister. I am so beyond happy she is being recognized right now for her incredible talent. Also, John Williams wrote the score for this film. It could not be better. “Somewhere in My Memory” will always and forever make me cry. To quote the fake movie Angels with Even Filthier Souls featured in Home Alone 2 (another fabulous movie): “I could go on forever, baby.” 

  5. 5. Some Kind of Wonderful (1987) producer, writer

    yellow smiley face stickers

    I love this movie. If you want my full thoughts, you can read my article on it here!

  6. 6. Weird Science (1985) director, writer

    person putting liquid into test tubes

    Like the title says, this movie is weird. There’s science, magic, a human who is transformed into a blob, and even a young Robert Downey Jr. The main characters’ goals may be sexist. However, what the boys end up with by creating Lisa is a strong, intelligent woman who actually teaches them a lot more than they bargained for. Needless to say, it is a rollercoaster from start to finish.

  7. 7. Uncle Buck (1989) director, producer, writer

    Blueberry Pancakes

    John Candy is incredible, as usual. Macaulay Culkin is perfect in one of his earliest film roles. Though the unnecessarily hateful character of Tia (played by Jean Louisa Kelly) may be one of my least favorite film characters of all time, it’s because the actress does such a good job in her role. Sure, it’s over the top when Uncle Buck kidnaps Tia’s scummy boyfriend, but it is so entertaining to watch him be hit with golf balls. Also, there’s a big pancake.

  8. 8. The Breakfast Club (1985) director, producer, writer, cameo

    Person with a clap board on set

    Not my least favorite by any means, but not my favorite either. Like Sixteen Candles, there are a couple of issues with this one. Bender causes most of them — though the vice principal is pretty awful, too. Everyone's a little too angsty, but that’s the point of the movie. Even though it’s pretty low on this list, I still do enjoy it. I love that it’s set in one place on one day, I love the dancing on the tables, and I love the lunch scene. Perhaps most of all, I love the season 3 Victorious parody episode “The Breakfast Bunch.”

  9. 9. Sixteen Candles (1984) director, writer

    Cake with lit candles

    This movie is no stranger to criticism for insensitive and offensive material. #1: Its depiction of Asian foreign exchange student “Long Duk Dong” (I mean, come on) is ignorant and hard to watch. #2: The love interest of the main character, who we’re supposed to root for, jokes about sexual assault and then gives his drunk girlfriend to another guy and tells him he can do what he wants with her. #3: The other guy, who has already been relentlessly pursuing the main character the whole movie, accepts this.

     While this movie has a great soundtrack and some great performances, it’s difficult (and also wrong) to look past these issues, which cannot just be ignored.

  10. 10. National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983) writer, lyricist

    car mirror reflection

    The one time I watched this film, my computer stopped working, so I never finished the last two minutes of it. But from what I remember, I didn’t love it. All I can say is that the parts of it that stick out in my mind are not positive. Since it’s not very memorable to me, I have to put it in the last place.

This was very hard, but I think I’m satisfied with how the numbers panned out. For now, I’m going to take a rest before buckling down for the remainder of the midterms season. Have a great week!

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