Home Alone (1990)
The image of Macauley Culkin posing post-shave in front of the mirror (a playfully ironic ode to Edvard Munch's The Scream) is another pop culture staple we owe to Hughes. Left behind by his family, now en route to Paris, Kevin McCallister must fend for himself and defend his suburban Illinois home against two dimwitted burglars. The film launched Macauley to stardom and generated a bona fide franchise (two more movies and a made-for-TV hit). His first film of the '90s, Home Alone made Hughes' statement loud and clear: It was he who made the Brat Pack stars, not the other way around. He didn't need teen drama; Hughes could spin a relatively unknown 10-year-old and a largely implausible story into box office gold. In case you forget the true popularity of the new Christmas classic, consider this: It was the highest-grossing film of the year and topped the box office for three straight months.