Best C Thomas Howell Performances, Ranked – MovieWeb

C. Thomas Howell has received great appreciation for his work over time bringing a variety of genres to our screens. Let’s look at some of his best.
Christopher Thomas Howell is an American actor and director who has graced our screens with various amazing movies over time. Inspired as a young boy by his father's work as a stuntman, it too also became a passion of his, becoming a child stunt performer.
However, it was in 1982 that he made his film debut as Tyler in the iconic Steven Spielberg hit, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Since his first time in the spotlight, C. Thomas Howell has gained great praise, and with such an array of hits, it is hard to choose which are his best movies, but in the list below, we tried our best.
Beast Mode is a 2020 American comedy horror film directed by Chris W. Freeman and Spain Willingham. C. Thomas Howell stars alongside Leslie Easterbrook, Ray Wise, James Hong, and James Duval. Following a Hollywood agent who accidentally kills his only client with his car, we watch as he cooks up an herbal remedy in the attempt to resurrect the dead, as he is determined to finish his film. Although, as expected, not everything goes to plan and his elixir has serious consequences.
Though this movie hasn't made it to the spotlight as much as some of his others, it still possesses some brutal killings and great laughs. Though the gore in this movie is great (killings include being strangled with intestines), they're still not typically horrifying and actually generate a few giggles.
Gods and Generals is a 2003 American war drama film. Written and directed by Ronald F. Maxwell, it is an adaptation of Jeffrey Shaara's 1996 novel of the same name, as well as a prequel to Maxwell's 1993 film Gettysburg. Taking us through the earlier days of the American Civil War, we follow three historically influential figures. C. Thomas Howell stars as Lieutenant Thomas Chamberlain, brother to Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, who is forced to leave his quiet life behind.
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General Robert Lee's loyalty to the USA is tested and General Thomas Stonewall Jackson questions his faith all the way through to the Battle of Chancellorsville, where he meets his fate. Although the film was a failure in the box office, the incredible performances and such historically accurate details were praised greatly. The film's main criticism was its length — originally, Gods and Generals ran for over five hours, and though it was cut by an hour and a half, many viewers who weren't history buffs still found this too lengthy.
Beginning in 2009, Howell guest starred in Jeff Davis' TV show, Criminal Minds on CBS as serial killer George Foyet (The Boston Reaper), who was a recurring villain based on the infamous Zodiac Killer. The police procedural crime drama series premiered in 2005, and originally concluded on February 19, 2020, but was revived in 2022 with Criminal Minds: Evolution.
The criminal profilers, who work for the FBI, use behavioral analysis to investigate and solve crimes. As they tackle difficult cases, they must also tackle their difficult personal lives. Howell's performance of the fugitive serial killer is captivating and devastating and definitely shows his ability to take on any role.
The 2012 superhero film The Amazing Spider-Man is the fourth Spider-Man movie based on the Marvel Comics character and shares the title of the character's longest-running comic book series. Abandoned by his parents and raised by an aunt and uncle, Peter Parker, secretly Spider-Man, is trying to come to terms with who he is and exactly what his feelings are for his first crush, Gwen Stacy. However, when he finds a mysterious briefcase that was his father's, he decides to solve his parents' disappearance.
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Although, when he ends up in Oscorp and the lab of Dr. Curt Connors, everything gets out of control when he finds himself coming face to face with Connors' alter ego, the Lizard. C. Thomas Howell stars alongside Andrew Garfield as Ray, a construction worker whose son finds himself stuck on the Manhattan bridge, right in the middle of a nasty battle between the Lizard and Spider-Man. The film gained positive reviews for the performances and visual effects, and was even the seventh highest grossing film in 2012.
Directed by Robert Harmon, The Hitcher is a 1986 road thriller film starring C. Thomas Howell as Jim Halsey. While on his way to transport a car from Chicago to San Diego, Jim picks up a hitchhiker, John Ryder, who claims to be a serial killer. After a narrow escape, both Jim and the viewers hope to never come across the killer again. Although, when Jim witnesses the hitchhiker brutally slaughtering an entire family, Jim and a truck-stop waitress must take it upon themselves to put a stop to this bloodbath.
Full of car chases and plenty of gore, The Hitcher is a tense, brutal and adrenaline pumping-thriller that, if nothing else, is a strong message to never pick up hitchhikers. Positive opinions of the film actually grew over time as The Hitcher became an '80s cult classic, and praise on the performances became so popular that it spurred a 2003 sequel, where Howell reprised his role as Jim, as well as a 2007 remake.
Red Dawn is a 1984 American action drama film directed by John Milius. Set in an alternate-reality 1980s in World War III, where a land invasion of the United States by an alliance of Soviet, Warsaw, and Latin American states, a group of teenagers in a small Colorado town are attacked by Soviet soldiers. Howell stars as Robert Morris, friend of brothers Jed (Patrick Swayze) and Matt Eckert (Charlie Sheen), as they gather a group of friends and escape to the forest.
Along with their father, the brothers and their friends aren't afraid of being attacked and decide to fight and take back their town. Red Dawn was a fantastic depiction of revolution, yet received mixed reviews from critics. Nevertheless, it became a giant commercial success and even spurred a 2012 remake.
An adaptation of S.E. Hinton's 1967 novel of the same name, The Outsiders is a 1983 American coming-of-age drama film directed by Francis Ford Coppola. Coppola was actually inspired to make the film by Jo Ellen Misakian, a librarian at Lone Star Elementary School in Fresno, California who represented the seventh and eighth graders who loved the book.
The Outsiders follows a teen gang in Oklahoma, the Greasers, who are rivals with the Socials. When Ponyboy (Howell) and Johnny (Ralph Macchio) get into a fight that drastically ends with the death of a Socials member, the boys are forced to go into hiding. There, the boys and their gangs are forced to deal with the consequences of their violent actions.
The film became very well known for its up-and-coming stars and their incredible performances, and C. Thomas Howell garnered himself a Young Artist Award. Working alongside his co-stars, Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez, Matt Dillon, Tom Cruise, Patrick Swayze, Ralph Macchio and Diane Lane, helped spark the Brat Pack movies of the 1980s. The Outsiders positive reviews and has gone down as one of (if not the most) the most popular works of C. Thomas Howell and has earned quite the cult following over the years.
Sophie is a feature writer for MovieWeb and a University graduate with a BA Hons degree in Theatre and Performance from Northumbria University.


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