The Best of Tom Cruise

33 films. About half of those have grossed over $100 million domestically. Lifetime gross of over $3 billion domestically, over $7 billion worldwide. Impressive stats to say the least. As one of the all-time biggest box office draws, Tom Cruise has had one impressive career thus far. With Oblivion expected to open at #1 this weekend, I look back over Tom Cruise’s career and pick what I feel are his top 10 movies.

10. Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol
Ghost Protocol sees Tom Cruise reprise his role as Ethan Hunt. The IMF agent sets out on his most action-packed adventure yet as he must clear the agency’s name while preventing a nuclear war. After a 5 year slump at the box office, Ghost Protocol proved to be Cruise’s return to the top. The Mission: Impossible franchise has always been just plain fun action. But Ghost Protocol takes the cake as a stylish and exciting action thriller which proves to be the best of the franchise.

9. Days of Thunder

Days of Thunder
Days of Thunder was cited as just being Top Gun on wheels. The movie is about as formulaic as Cruise movies get. But, while it may not be the greatest or deepest of films, Days of Thunder is exciting nonetheless, following the story of Cole Trickle a hot shot driver who gets his break in Nascar, but his attitude soon proves to cause him troubles on and off the track. With a solid supporting cast including Robert Duvall, Nicole Kidman, Cary Elwes and Randy Quaid, the ride ends up being a fun one with thrills, drama and laughter.

8. Born on the Fourth of July

Born on the Fourth of July
While Tom Cruise is surely box office gold, getting one of those golden statues (an Oscar) is something that’s eluded him his whole career. However, he has received a few nominations over the course of his career. Born on the Fourth of July proved to be the Academy’s first recognition of Cruise (and the actor’s first Golden Globe for Best Actor). The movie itself would go on to get a total of 8 Oscar nominations, winning Best Director and Best Film Editing. Cruise delivers a stunning performance in this biopic of Ron Kovic, who became a political activist after becoming paralyzed in Vietnam and feeling wronged by his country.

7. Top Gun

Top Gun
I can just hear the collective groans of contempt now. But before you go rallying a lynch mob, allow me to provide some more fuel for your fire: Top Gun is overrated. Don’t stop reading just yet, though. I’m not saying the movie is bad, it is on the list after all. However, the movie just isn’t as good as we remember. Fans of Top Gun are typically guys who grew up in the 80s and were mesmerized by the awesome dogfights and the general Tom Cruise badassery on display in the film. Since then, Top Gun has carried the “classic” tag due to nostalgia. But going back without rose-tinted glasses, one can see there’s not much to Top Gun. Beyond it’s aerial scenes (which are truly amazing), the movie offers nothing and includes scenes which can actually be downright cringe-worthy. Nonetheless, it is a fun ride with some awesome action which makes it enjoyable.

6. Collateral

Collateral movie
Cruise made a real name for himself as the good guy and the action hero. It’s not often we get to see him as the villain of a movie, but in this case it was most definitely a treat. Cruise plays Vincent, a contract killer who takes a cabbie (Jamie Foxx) hostage as he drives around the city carrying out hit after hit. Cruise and Foxx both turn in wonderful performances here (with Foxx gaining an Oscar nomination) which really anchor this movie. The chemistry and the back and forth between the two are great. This is easily one of director Michael Mann’s best movi

5. Risky Business

Risky Business
If Top Gun made Tom Cruise a box office god, then Risky Business is the movie that made him a star. This is one of the quintessential 80s teen movies, right up there with Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Tom Cruise plays teenager Joel who decides to cut loose when his parents go away on vacation. But things get out of hand when Joel takes his dad’s Porsche for a spin, leaving him needing to find creative ways to come up with money. Smart and funny, Risky Business entertains and enlightens. It’s fun but serious, exploring even dark themes. This is a great look at the charm that makes Tom Cruise a star.

4. Minority Report

Minority Report
For me, Minority Report is a futuristic noir thriller which rivals even Blade Runner. Spielberg delivers one of his finest works, creating a stylish and fascinating future that feels believable. Cruise plays a future cop who is part of an organization that can see crimes before they’re committed and stop them beforehand. But when John himself is accused of a future murder, he must scramble to try to clear his name. The high-concept movie mixes action with intelligence. Thrilling, insightful and thought-provoking, this is one that fans of crime thrillers or sci-fi films shouldn’t miss.

3. Jerry Maguire

Jerry Maguire
“SHOW ME THE MONEY!!!” Romance, comedy, drama, sports. This one offers it all. It also offered up another Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe win for Tom Cruise. Cruise plays sports agent who has an epiphany which leads to him walking out on his job. Now, with only his assistant and one client, he must attempt to salvage his career and his life. This is one of Cruise’s more mature performances as he brings a warmth and tenderness to the role. As romantic comedies go, Jerry Maguire is a smartly written film with plenty of heart. As a tale of redemption and self-discovery, it is surprisingly insightful and human. This is Tom Cruise at the top of his game.

2. A Few Good Men

A Few Good Men
While Jerry Maguire may be Cruise’s most compelling character, A Few Good Men is arguably the most compelling story Cruise finds himself involved with. Call me a sucker for courtroom dramas and legal thrillers, but watching this movie unfold is enthralling. Cruise plays a lawyer who defends a couple of marines who are charged with murder. Setting out to clear their name, Cruise must uncover corruption within the ranks of the Marines. This all culminates in a goosebump-inducing ending where Cruise and Nicholson face off, marked by the all too famous “You can’t handle the truth!” Well written, well acted and well directed, A Few Good Men is one captivating mystery.

1. Rain Man

Rain Man
Let’s be honest, Dustin Hoffman is the main attraction in this one. However, Tom Cruise does surprisingly well in holding his own next to the legendary Hoffman, with both turning in brilliant performances. Cruise is the self-centered Charlie Babbit who finds out his father left all his money to Charlie’s unknown brother, an autistic savant. Charlie proceeds to kidnap his brother and take him across the country in an effort to swindle the money from him. This is a road trip, not topped by many in the genre. It’s full of laughs and heart. Rain Man manages to be touching and insightful without ever coming across as pandering.

So there you have it. My top 10 Tom Cruise movies. I’m sure more than one of you are bound to disagree with something here. So, let’s hear it. Leave your thoughts and comments below.

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  1. Dan says:

    Great choices and nice to see one of his “lesser” loved films up there – Days of Thunder – as I love this one. In terms of performances I think I would have to include Magnolia in my top 10.
    Dan recently posted..Top 10 Films about Taxi Drivers

  2. Colin Biggs says:

    Collateral and Magnolia are musts in the future Tom Cruise boxset. Those two roles just completely contradicted the movie star image he had cultivated over his career.
    Colin Biggs recently posted..Review: The Wolverine

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