Narrowing down Tom Cruise’s top films to a list of ten is not easy. Whatever you might think of Cruise’s unconventional religion or antics in the media, the fact is he is an incredibly skilled actor. He shines in both comedy and dramatic roles – something not all actors can handle. Cruise has been nominated for Academy Awards three times, twice as Best Actor and once for Best Supporting Actor.
Here are the Top 10 best Tom Cruise movies of all time:
10) Risky Business was Tom Cruise’s first breakout starring role. He’d been in films before, but this was the first one he was carrying the picture. It is a 1983 teen sex comedy that hit a chord with the viewing public and racked in $63 million at the box office, against a $6.2 budget. This is the film that told Hollywood and the world that Tom Cruise had box office power. The plot follows Joel Goodson, a high school student whose parents are leaving him in their home while they take a vacation. Joel’s friends urge him into sex with a prostitute, who ends up robbing him.
9) Minority Report is a 2002 science fiction film based on a 1956 short story by Philip K. Dick. Set in futuristic Washington D.C. circa 2054, the film centers on a specialized police force that apprehends criminals before the crimes occur based on lead from a collection of psychics known as Precogs (short for precognitions). The film combines elements of tech noir, whodunit, thriller, and sci fi. The film also stars Colin Farrell and Max Von Sydow.
8) Born on the Fourth of July is 1989 biographical war drama based on the 1976 autobiography of Ron Kovic. The film was directed by visionary Oliver Stone based on a script by Stone and Kovic. The film depicts Tom Cruise as Kovic over a 20-year span as he goes from Vietnam military service to wheelchair bound anti-war activism. Sean Penn, Charlie Sheen, and Nicolas Cage are among the actors who were considered for the lead role. Cruise spend a full year researching the role of a soldier who becomes paralyzed from the chest down. Research included visiting veterans’ hospitals, reading books about the Vietnam war, and practicing being wheelchair bound. Cruise received his first Best Actor Academy Award nomination for his performance.
7) Taps is a 1981 drama about a military academy staring Timothy Hutton. The story follows a group of military school students who plot to take over the school to save it from closing. This was Cruise’s second film role following Endless Love. Although he’s in a relatively small supporting role, Cruise is magnetic in his performance. He proves himself as a talented actor and a great scene stealer. It also features Sean Penn in his first screen role.
6) The Outsiders is a 1983 coming-of-age drama about a group of greasers in the 1960s. Based upon the 1967 book by S.E. Hinton, The Outsiders film was directed by Francis Ford Coppola. The film is noted for its cast of up-and-coming stars including C. Thomas Howell, Rob Lowe, Patrick Swayze, Ralph Macchio, Emilio Estevez, Matt Dillon, and Cruise. Although Cruise is in a small role, the ensemble cast and Coppola’s faithful adaptation of the book make it a movie to be remembered. The Outsiders also happens to be my favorite book of all time.
5) Top Gun is a 1986 action drama directed by Tony Scott and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer. This was the ultimate summer fun movie of 1986. Cruise plays Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, an egotistical naval aviator training at the U.S. Navy’s Fighter Weapons School. Anthony Edwards co-stars as Maverick’s co-pilot. Kelly McGillis is radiant as an instructor who falls for Maverick. Val Kilmer and Tom Skerritt also star. The film grossed $356 million in the U.S. against a budget of $15 million. The aerial sequences are breathtaking.
4) Rain Man is a 1988 drama about a brash wheeler dealer who upon his father’s passing, learns that he has an autistic older brother who his father has left his sizable estate to. Cruise’s character, Charlie Babbitt kidnaps his newly found brother Raymond (played by Dustin Hoffman) in hopes of gaining access to their father’s fortune. In the road trip that ensues, there are laughs and tears as the two brothers learn about each other. It was the highest grossing film of the year and earned four Oscars including Best Actor (Hoffman), Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Screenplay.
3) A Few Good Men is a 1992 legal military drama from director Rob Reiner. Adapted from the play of the same name, the film stars Cruise as a Navy JAG lawyer defending two Marines facing court-martial for the murder of a fellow Marine. The film co-stars Jack Nicholson in an Oscar-nominated performance. Also featured in the all-star cast are Demi Moore, Kevin Bacon, Kevin Pollak, Cuba Gooding Jr., and Keifer Sutherland. Overall, the picture grossed over $240 million.
2) Jerry Maguire is a 1996 romantic comedy/sports drama written, produced, and directed by Cameron Crowe. In an Oscar-nominated performance, Cruise stars as a sports agent who gets fired from his agency for having too lofty of ideals about removing dishonesty from the agent game. Jerry leaves his employer to go out on his own with just one client – Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Rod Tidwell, played by Cuba Gooding Jr. in an Oscar-winning Best Supporting Actor performance. An up until then unknown Renee Zellweger was cast as Jerry’s love interest. Jay Mohr, Kelly Preston, and Jerry O’Connell co-star. I feel Cruise should have won the Oscar for his brilliant performance.
1) The Firm is a 1993 legal thriller based upon the novel by John Grisham. Cruise plays Mitch McDeere, a young man about to graduate from Harvard Law School. McDeere has many suitors for his legal services, but he is most taken with an offer from a boutique law firm in Memphis, Tennessee. As he becomes acclimated to his new employer, he learns the firm’s biggest clientele are from the mob. McDeere is then pressured by the FBI to flip on his employer. The Firm is legal storytelling at its best. It costars Gene Hackman, Holly Hunter, Wilford Brimley, Gary Busey, Ed Harris, and Jeanne Tripplehorn.
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