Ranking Tom Cruise’s Five Best Films

Tom Cruise has been a movie star for over 30 years. Not many people have lasted that long in Hollywood, especially as a leading man. His mix of charisma and attitude have made him one of the most bankable actors in the history of cinema. The list of quality films Cruise has made is staggeringincluding The Firm, A Few Good Men, the Mission: Impossible series, Rain Man, The Color of Money and Minority Report. With the release of his latest film, Doug Liman’s science fiction actioner Edge of Tomorrow, it’s time to take a look at the best of the best from Mr. Cruise.

5. Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011)

Far and away the best of the M:I franchise, Brad Bird’s first live action film brings all of his animated know-how into the real world, with stunning effect. With Jeremy Renner, Paula Patton and Simon Pegg in tow, Cruise is working with the best cast in the series, and coupled with the fantastic opening scene jail break and the even more amazing dangle from the world’s tallest builing in Dubai, Ghost Protocol is one of the best action films ever made.

Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol

4. Collateral (2004)

Cruise goes against type as Vincent, a silver-haired hitman who takes Jamie Foxx’s cab driver on the ride of his life. Travelling through Los Angeles, taking down target after targer, Cruise has never been more menacing (or cooler) in Michael Mann’s modern noir classic. Fun fact: Adam Sandler was originally cast in Foxx’s role, and Val Kilmer was slated to play the part that eventually went to Mark Ruffalo.


3. Born on the Fourth of July (1989)

Oliver Stone’s Born on the Fourth of July isn’t a movie that screams rewatchability (it’s just too brutal), but Cruise is riveting as the paralyzed Vietnam vet Ron Kovic in this true life tale. Stone won the Oscar for Best Director, while Cruise earned the first of three career nominations in the film, which is nothing short of harrowing in the telling of Kovic’s long road to recovery. Anyone who thought Platoon was heartbreaking, needs to watch Born on the Fourth of July.

Born on the Fourth of July

2. Jerry Maguire (1996)

Taking over the title role, originally meant for Tom Hanks, Cruise showed a rare vulnerability in Cameron Crowe’s best film, playing the sports agent whose crisis of conscience ruins him professionally. With it’s mix of sports and romance, Maguire is one of the best “romantic comedies” ever made. It’s hard to call it a rom-com, since the film is so well made, but at it’s heart, that’s what Maguire is. The film launched Renee Zellweger into the stratosphere and netted Cuba Gooding Jr. a Best Supporting Actor Oscar.

Jerry Maguire

1. Top Gun (1986)

Tony Scott’s Top Gun made Tom Cruise a household name at the tender age of 23. Think about that. Twenty-three. Nobody has ever risen so fast and lasted so long since. Featuring some of the best aerial photography ever captured on film, Top Gun‘s mix of bromance, humor, and adrenaline-fueled action still hold up almost 30 years later. The cast also featured a few people who wound up doing pretty well with their careers, including Anthony Edwards, Val Kilmer, Tim Robbins and Meg Ryan.

Top Gun

Honorable Mention

No list of the best Tom Cruise films can be complete with at least mentioning 1983’s Risky Business, where Cruise took hold of every woman’s heart with this one shot:

Ben Stiller’s Tropic Thunder also merits honorable mention, as Cruise’s performance as ruthless studio head Les Grossman literally saved his career, when his public image was at its lowest:

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The Author

Ryan Hill

Ryan Hill

Ryan Hill used to spend his time writing screenplays into a notebook instead of doing homework. That love of film and all things storytelling led him to spend most of his time writing. He's been a film critic in North Carolina for over five years, and his debut novel, THE BOOK OF BART, is out now. Please buy it. Ryan also feels odd about referring to himself in the third person.