The Top Ten Tom Cruise Movies

Alright, alright.

Let’s do another one of these things.

After the relative success of my Top Ten Ridley Scott Films a couple of weeks back, I feel ok enough with these to take another crack at them. This time up? A Top Ten with an even higher level of difficulty, the Top Ten Tom Cruise Movies.

Mr. Cruise has been in a number of high quality films over the years, this was an extremely difficult list to whittle down. There are a number of really excellent films that didn’t make my cut… including some of his truly iconic roles.

Please keep in mind, these aren’t necessarily ordered by his performances, this would be what I would consider an attempt to rank his best movies. Of course, there are a few films of his I havent seen, I think I have all the major bases covered though.

With those disclaimers out of the way, read on!!


10) Risky Business (1983)

The toughest choice of all for me actually, because whichever ones I didn’t select wouldn’t get represented on the list… In the end I had to go with Cruise’s breakout role, Guido the killer pimp, and the iconic scene where Cruise slides across the floor in his fruit of the looms. It’s actually Cruise’s highest rated film on rotten tomatoes @ 98% (although reviews that pre-date the actual site skew high). Sometimes, you’ve just gotta make “Risky Business” your number 10.

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9) Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (2011)

The consummate action movie. Fast moving, slick and filled beginning to end with memorable set pieces. Cruise steps back into his role of Ethan Hunt after five years and doesn’t miss a beat. Aided by incredible special effects work and a strong supporting cast, MI:4 is an adrenalin charged thrill ride. The sequence on the side of the Burj Khalifa is absolutely unforgettable. If this movie had a memorable villain it would be talked about as one of the greatest action movies ever.

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8) Tropic Thunder (2008)

Needing to resurrect his career after a string bizarre behavior incidents, scientology videos, and coming off horribly in an interview with Matt Lauer, Cruise donned the fat suit and gave us all Les Grossman. The foul-mouthed, volatile, hip-hop dancing Grossman reminded us that Cruise could be funny (and likeable). The movie itself is a hysterical comedy, thanks in large part to Cruise’s sizeable contribution.

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7) Jerry Maguire (1996)

Cruise plays a sports agent who makes the mistake of thinking his company would want to do the right thing. Forced out on his own with only one client, Maguire has one chance to make it. Along the way, he finds romance with an ex coworker and her insufferably cute kid. With Cameron Crowe calling the shots and picking the tunes, you know you’re in for an emotionally manipulative ride, but this one works, as evidenced by its five Oscar noms (and one win – Gooding Jr.)_____________________________________________________________________________

6) Minority Report (2002)

Directed by Steven Spielberg, and based on a story by Phillip K. Dick, “Minority Report” is a superb sci-fi action thriller. Futuristic concepts pepper a tautly paced film with a complicated plot. A harried Cruise runs for his life throughout most of it, dodging the police and fighting against fate itself. It’s a head trip at times, and “The Fugitive” in the future at others, but the meeting of Spielberg, Cruise and Phillip K Dick’s did not disappoint!

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5) Born on the Fourth of July (1989)

Ron Kovic, a young marine who is paralyzed in Vietnam. A true believer when he went in, he loses more than his ability to walk in the war. He loses the very foundation of his beliefs. With nothing left to stand on, literally and metaphorically, he’s forced to go journey of self discovery that ends with him protesting the war and condemning the very things he once held so dear. A powerful anti-war movie, and easily one of Cruise’s most challenging roles.

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4) The Color of Money (1986)

Martin Scorsese directs Cruise at his young hotshot best. Paul Newman reprises his role as “The Hustler”‘s Fast Eddie Felson, who first mentors Cruise, then comes out of retirement to challenge him. Cruise whoops and hollers around as Newman tries to channel his energy in the right direction and coach him in the way of the hustle. All the while, Scorsese’s visually striking direction makes nine-ball look cooler than it ever has.

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3) Magnolia (1999)

Paul Thomas Anderson’s epic masterpiece on the human condition. It’s an incredible film, with an enormous, talented cast. A challenging, unique and poetic movie, Magnolia is easily one of the best films Cruise has ever been involved with. It takes a look at the fragile coincidences that connect us all as we move through life, each of us trying to do the best we can. Epic and operatic.
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2) A Few Good Men (1992)

A rock solid courtroom drama featuring great performances, containing one of the most memorable lines in movie history. Cruise plays Daniel Kaffee, an underachieving Naval lawyer coasting by on his charm. When he’s suddenly assigned a case with enormous stakes, however, Kaffee rises to his potential. The entire movie is great, but it’s the unforgettable climactic courtroom scene with Cruise and Nicholson thundering at each other that makes the movie such a legend.
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1) Rain Man (1988)

The story of the Babbit brothers may be most memorable for Raymond (Dustin Hoffman), but it’s Charlie who changes. It’s a moving story of a self-absorbed man who discovers he has an older brother he never knew about, only to learn that he’s autistic. In an attempt to gain his share of the inheritance, Charlie winds up on a road trip with Raymond, and learns that there are more important things in life than money. Winner of four Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

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Well, there you have it. My weigh in on the top ten Tom Cruise movies ever. There were some PAINFUL omissions. I have seen but, for one reason or another, “Cut”: “Collateral”, “Legend”, “War of the Worlds”, “MI: 1-3″, “The Last Samurai”, “Vanilla Sky”, “Cocktail”, “Eyes Wide Shut”, “Top Gun” and “Interview with the Vampire”.

I mean, every one of those movies could easily place on a lesser star’s top ten with no problems. But Cruise’s filmography is filled with high quality pictures, he has no shortage of candidates for a “Top Ten” list, at all.

So what do YOU think? Which omission gets your blood boiling? Which movie do I have ranked to high, or too low? Let’s hear it, what do YOU think?

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76 thoughts on “The Top Ten Tom Cruise Movies

  1. …jus’ take those old records off the shelf….

    [The Ogre slides across the hardwood floors wearing a blue oxford button down, tighty whities, and some tube socks]*

    Iconic. Not a great movie, mind you, but an iconic piece of Americana.

    Tom Cruise is like that for me. I dont think I can come up with a top ten list of Cruise movies, because I’ve never liked one all the way through, but there are scenes… indelibly burned into the common cultural psyche which are worth remembering.
    So, a list of Tom Cruise scenes then:

    Top Gun: “I feel the need… the need for speed!”
    Top Gun: “She’s lost that loving feeling? Oh NO!”
    Magnolia: “In this life, it’s not what you hope for, it’s not what you deserve – it’s what you take!”
    Jerry Maguire: “Show me the money!”
    Jerry Maguire: You complete me.”
    Rain Man: “KMart sucks”
    Tropic Thunder: “Yeah. But seriously, a nutless monkey could do your job. ”
    Minority Report: “If you don’t kill me, precogs were wrong and precrime is over. If you do kill me, you go away, but it proves the system works. The precogs were right. So, what are you going to do now? What’s it worth? Just one more murder? You’ll rot in hell with a halo, but people will still believe in precrime. All you have to do is kill me like they said you would. Except you know your own future, which means you can change it if you want to. You still have a choice Lamar. Like I did. ”
    A Few Good Men: “Excuse me. I didn’t dismiss you. ”
    A Few Good Men: “Don’t call me son. I’m a lawyer, and an officer in the United States Navy, and you’re under arrest you son of a bitch. The witness is excused.”
    The Color of Money: “Let’s have some fun.”

    *just try to scrub THAT mental image out of your mind! lol

    • THANKFULLY that image came across in Ogre form. I’m appreciative of that!

      I would (obviously) strongly disagree about him not having movies that are good all the way through. But I would definitely agree he’s been in some cultural touchstone scenes. From actually BEING the “You” who “Cant handle the truth”, to the aforementioned Bob Seger scene, to the dancing in Tropic Thunder and the legendary volleyball scene in Top Gun

      The man has had more than his share of moments, there’s no doubt about it! :D

      And that doesn’t even mention his dialogue free moments like the bottle flipping in Cocktail or the Pool Cue twirling in Color of Money…

  2. I like Tom Cruise as an actor… not a big fan of his inability to keep his mouth shut when it comes to spouting his whacked-out views, but it hasn’t affected his movies as far as I can tell. He hasn’t pulled a Travolta.

    That said, it seems like I haven’t actually seen a lot of Tom Cruise movies, and some of the ones I have seen I didn’t like (Mission Impossible, which I think we’ve touched upon before.) And some I’m kind of fuzzy on in my memory. So I can do a top 10 list, but it’s literally the only 10 Cruise movies I’ve seen, and if I were to rewatch some, I’m sure my listing would change.

    Rain Man (1988)
    Minority Report (2002)
    Collateral (2004)
    Top Gun (1986)
    Legend (1985)
    The Outsiders (1983) (*pretty fuzzy on this one, but I remember how I felt)
    Vanilla Sky (2001)
    Far and Away (1992) (*fuzzy on this one too)
    Interview with the Vampire (1994)
    Mission: Impossible (1996)

    • You have some good movies awaiting you then. That’s a good thing. :D

      Interview almost made my list ahead of Collateral. Honest. It came close. LOL.

      Cruise HAS been quiet for awhile though, I think we have to give him that. I think that that spell of idiocy has passed and now he’s gonna just quietly make movies. Hopefully

      • Yeah, it’s been a while since he decided to feud with some other celebrity over psychology or something like that. Hopefully he’s gotten it out of his system, or at least has learned that it doesn’t win him fans. (I don’t give him any grief over the couch-jumping thing. You make a guy famous for singing along to Bob Seger in his boxer shorts, you have to expect that sort of behavior.)

  3. The Color of Money is my favorite movie that Cruise has been in, but honestly I don’t even think of it as a Tom Cruise movie. Newman makes that movie for me, and Cruise plays a character very similar to almost all of his early roles.

    So here is a ranking of what I feel are Cruise’s top five performances… not necessarily favorite films, but ones where it seemed like Cruise turned it up a notch.

    1. Valkyrie
    2. Born on the Fourth of July
    3. Collateral
    4. Minority Report
    5. A Few Good Men

    • Oh wow… throwing Valkyrie into the mix. And here I thought I was going to get away without having to say I hadnt seen it. LOL.

      I would say that just because Cruise busted out that persona in varying degrees in his early roles, it shouldnt necessarily be held against him – or those roles. Is that any different than the redundant Clint Eastwood characters, or John Wayne, or… etc etc. A ton of stars do that.

      I love Vince. He’s one of my faves. :D

      Stacee Jaxx was pretty fun, too, although… he can’t sing. LOL

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  5. Excellent list! I’ve always been a big Cruise fan. Even when his movies aren’t that great he always goes hard at whatever role he’s given. Have to appreciate that. I would have added Collateral and Top Gun to the list at the expense of The Color of Money and Risky Business and I think I’d put Tropic Thunder further up my personal list. That role just killed me. So funny. Good work here!

    • Thanks Brian!

      Well, let’s say I’d have no issues swapping out Risky Business for Top Gun. It was almost the case anyways.

      Collateral is a movie I really have issues with, and Color of Money is one of my faves (if these were ranked strictly by favorites, it might be #1). So that one isn’t a swap I’d make.

      That said, I think every other alternating commenter here on this post mentioned “Collateral”, so its most assuredly worthy and I have to have it under assessed.

      Again, if it were just favorite roles, Brian? Yeah, I’d have Tropic Thunder higher too. Cruise slayed me, yes. But so did the whole cast! I love that movie.

      “Man, just cause it’s a theme song don’t make it not true.” – Kirk Lazarus. :D

      Thanks for commenting up!

  6. Should be alot of comments on this one… :D
    I realize this is your list so I’m not into bashing people’s top tens. I hate doing top tens, but will give my two cents for what missed your list that would be on mine.

    I know its 80s cheese but Top Gun is definitely on my list. Somewhere in the middle.
    Still haven’t seen MI: Ghost Protocol, but I LOVE the first MI. It’s one of those that when it’s on, I end up watching it.
    Me being the sports nut, Jerry MacGuire is top three for me.
    Tropic Thunder would make my top ten worst movies of all time…the Cruise part was the best thing about it, the only part I truly LOLed.
    I like Collateral too, would probably squeak in my top ten.

    Good list, Fogs!

  7. Although my favourite Cruise film is probably Rain Man I think his best performance is to be found in Born of the 4th of July. I’m also a huge fan of Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut too.

    • I totally have to revisit Eyes Wide Shut. On my initial viewing… lonnnnng ago…. I didnt buy into it, and never went back. But now that I’m a more educated film fan, I should give it another go. A lot of people actually speak relatively highly of it, and it WAS Kubrick after all.

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