Blockbuster director Ron Howard blazes back onto the big screen this week with Dan Brown thriller Inferno, one that launches brainy Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) into another desperate quest to save the entire world.
Not only a dab hand with apocalyptic thrillers, Oscar-winning filmmaker Howard is also an expert at bringing extraordinary true stories to the big screen and transforming them into filmic dynamite. We've picked his best so you don't have to – scroll down to find out what they are.
The real-life inspiration: The Apollo 13 space disaster
The movie: Quite possibly Ron's greatest movie, this relentlessly gripping and impressively balanced drama leaves the flag-waving patriotics at home to explore the three ordinary astronauts caught up in a NASA crisis. With outstanding performances from Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon and Bill Paxton (plus Oscar nominee Ed Harris as the chief on the ground), an impressive commitment to authentic detail and a moving score from the late, great James Horner, it's a textbook example of how to dramatise a true story without resorting to unnecessary melodrama.
A Beautiful Mind
The real-life inspiration: The life of celebrated mathematician John Nash
The movie: Did this worthy drama really deserve to win Best Picture over the first Lord of the Rings movie? Whilst that argument continues to rage 15 years later, let's instead concentrate on what Howard's movie gets right, most notably the incredibly moving performance from Russell Crowe as Nash, a brilliant man suffering from schizophrenia whose marriage to Alicia (Jennifer Connelly) experiences significant ups and downs. Unlike Apollo 13 it takes significant liberties with the facts of Nash's life but went on to win Best Director for Howard (as well as the controversial Best Picture).
The real-life inspiration: Boxer Jim Braddock
The movie: Howard's second movie with Russell Crowe is an unashamed crowdpleaser that takes as its basis the rags-to-riches story of Depression-era pugilist Jim Braddock. From a man who can barely afford to put food on his family's table to someone who finally emerges victorious in the ring once again (come on, that's not a spoiler, is it?), it's guaranteed to get you both cheering and looking up the remarkable true story of the real Braddock. There's no denying that Howard and Crowe did the man justice.
The real-life inspiration: The interviews between David Frost and Richard Nixon
The movie: Howard regained his authentic Apollo 13 spark with this engrossing adaptation of Peter Morgan's acclaimed stage play, one that transforms the pivotal interviews as a David and Goliath battle in everyone has got something to prove. Michael Sheen reprises his role as Frost, again proving his uncanny sense of mimicry, and Frank Langella, although he looks and sounds nothing like disgraced former President Richard Nixon, gets the man's wounded sense of pride brilliantly.
The real-life inspiration: The rivalry between Formula One racers James Hunt and Niki Lauda
The movie: Rock and roll clashes with mechanical precision in Howard's epic restaging of a decade-long racing battle between two very different men. Chris Hemsworth excels as the dashing playboy James Hunt but the heart of the movie really belongs to Daniel Bruhl as the efficient Lauda. The sheer sense of force and danger during the racing sequences is well matched by the prickly chemistry between the two actors playing the car-driving frenemies.
In the Heart of the Sea
The real-life inspiration: The battle with a monstrous whale that in turn inspired classic novel Moby Dick
The movie: Perhaps not as widely acclaimed as Howard's earlier movies, this ocean-going odyssey nevertheless impresses with its sense of sea-faring scale, as whaling vessel the Essex is forced into deadly battle with a monstrous sperm whale. The cast, led by a never-brawnier Chris Hemsworth, give effectively frazzled performances and Howard stages the attack with watery aplomb.