Tom Cruise is one of the highest-paid actors in Hollywood. For good reason, too. With jaw-dropping stunts, a gleaming smile and an intense gaze unmatched by many, Tom Cruise is a household name in Hollywood. He's had the lead actor role in at least 39 films and counting and has a box office total that has grossed over 10 billion. He has also produced some of his own films, including the hit Mission: Impossible franchise.
While Cruise may be known as an invincible action star, he has also played numerous characters with incredible depth and range. He has been the charming yet competitive romantic lead, the cold, calculating killer, and the greedy but misguided younger brother. Cruise has worked alongside some of the most famous actors and directors of our time. While it's hard to narrow down his greatest roles in such a short list, we've put together a few of the best Tom Cruise movies.
In the Oscar award-winning film, Rain Main, Cruise plays Charlie Babbitt, the selfish brother of Raymond as played by Dustin Hoffman. Charlie finds out that his brother Raymond has inherited a great deal of money. Determined to get hold of what he believes is rightfully his, Charlie absconds Ray away from his residential home, sending the two on a memorable road trip neither will forget.
Hoffman took home an Academy Award for his role. So did the director, the screenwriter, and the picture as a whole. While Tom Cruise may not have received an Oscar nomination for his role in the film, he is the perfect actor to play alongside Hoffman. You have the reward of watching him shed his character's shallow, flashy demeanor and embrace a subtle maturity as he learns why his brother was sent away. A must-watch film that is one of Tom Cruise's best.
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No one but Cruise could have played the part of Mitch McDeere in The Firm, an adaptation of the book by John Grisham. It could be why the 2012 television series of the book was canceled after only a single season. In the film, Cruise's McDeere is hired by a "small" firm from Memphis right out of law school. Although everything seems on the up-and-up, it isn't long before he realizes that he is surrounded by crooks.
It's the transformation of McDeere's smugness over landing such a top-notch job into an intensity over uncovering the truth and protecting his career — and life — that makes this such a powerful Tom Cruise film. However, what may surprise many is that Holly Hunter took home the Oscar for her role as Tammy Hemphill, the secretary of the private detective that McDeere hires. Despite Cruise's lack of Oscar recognition, this is one of his best movies.
A Few Good Men
A Few Good Men is a movie best known by many for its famous line spoken by Jack Nicholson who retorts, "You can't handle the truth!" However, it wouldn't be the same without Cruise playing the cocky Military lawyer Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee.
When defense lawyer Kaffee gets to defend two Marines accused of killing one of their colleagues, many expect him to simply settle the case out of court. Cruise's natural overconfidence as portrayed in his character, Kaffee, becomes a quality that people plan to manipulate to keep the truth a secret. When he realizes this raw reality, Cruise's stone-cold determination to take the case to court shocks many. Nicholson, who plays Colonel Nathan R. Jessup, was nominated for the Oscar. However, Cruise wows the audience when he plays opposite Nicholson in the famous court scene that prompted the line we all know so well.
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Going against his typical role, Tom Cruise plays a ruthless killer in the movie, Collateral. Vincent, as played by Cruise, is visiting Los Angeles to finish off a few people who are supposed to testify in court against a drug lord as well as a couple of other lawyers involved in the case. When he gets into the cab of Max, played by Jamie Foxx, not everything goes according to plan.
Cruise takes out all the charm in his personality to depict a heartless killer — although what remains is a certain reasonableness to his personality as he almost convinces Foxx's Max to stick with him for the long haul. However, Foxx's Max becomes braver by the moment. In yet another film where another actor was Oscar-nominated over Cruise — this time it was Jamie Foxx — it still remains one of Cruise's most complex characters, making it one of his best movies.
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This time an Oscar nominee, Cruise plays the part of Jerry Maguire, a sports agent at the top of his game. However, Cruise's Maguire gets a crisis of conscience when one of his clients gets seriously hurt. Confronted by the client's son, Cruise realizes he has no heart for those he is supposed to represent.
When Cruise's Maguire writes a mission statement, encouraging his agency to change their ways, he loses it all. However, despite the falling out, he connects with potential love interest, Dorothy Boyd, played by Renee Zellweger. He also manages to keep a single client, Rod Tidwell, played by Cuba Gooding Jr. It's a perfect blend of excellent acting, a strong script, and superb directing that makes this one of the most memorable romantic comedies. It also happens to include the famous Tom Cruise line that gives us all the feels, "You complete me."
Top Gun: Maverick
Timing is everything, as the old adage says. That is possibly why the movie Top Gun: Maverick was such a success. Cruise starred in and produced the film, a sequel to his career-making film, Top Gun. While it was ready to go in 2020, he delayed its release for when people could actually see it in theaters. And for good reason. With incredible stunts and minimal usage of CGI, the movie is an experience as much as it is entertainment.
Playing a character many became familiar with in the '80s, Cruise adds a level of maturity to his role as Captain Pete "Maverick" Mitchell. Cruise's Maverick returns to the school that molded him to train younger pilots, one of whom is the son of his now-deceased best friend. The emotional depth Cruise brings to the film makes it almost better than the original, a feat that's near impossible for sequels.
How can any of us forget that famous scene when Cruise dances in his underwear to the Bob Seger song, "Old Time Rock & Roll"? One of the movies that made him who he is today, Cruise plays Joel Goodsen, a college-bound high school senior who itches to cut loose from his parents' ties. Finally having the opportunity to live a little when his parents go on vacation, things for Goodsen go from bad to worse as each rule is broken.
Acting alongside Rebecca De Mornay who plays the elusive and appealing call girl, Cruise's Goodsen learns about life, love, and consequences in this iconic film. Coupled with a strong script and excellent music from the 80s, this is one of Tom Cruise's best and most memorable movies.