5 best Tom Cruise movies (and 3 of his absolute worst)

Top Gun (1986)

There could only be one movie on top. Sure, Risky Business was the one that made Cruise a star, and there are movies where the stunts were cooler or he has acted better. But Top Gun is the movie that made Cruise the biggest movie star on the planet, making grown men cry (Goose!), and kids all over the world want to grow up to be Maverick jet pilots. It’s telling that almost 30 years later, this is still Cruise’s coolest role ever, and that he is considering returning to make a second one in the near future.

Jerry Maguire (1996)

Touching, heartwarming, and ultimately uplifting, this is almost the perfect date movie – on the one hand, it’s an uplifting sports drama, on the other, it’s a fabulously romantic love story. It’s also a classic buddy movie, with Cruise and Cuba Gooding Jr. classic “show me the money” scene now firmly entrenched in pop culture lore. Nominated for five Oscars, including Best Picture, Cruise was also nominated for Best Actor for a second time.

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Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (2011)

By far, the best movie of the entire franchise. Brad Bird’s direction allowed Cruise to express himself freely, and the actor responded with perhaps his most natural portrayal of Ethan Hunt yet. The stunning scene at Dubai’s Bhuj Khalifa was especially memorable; Cruise did the stunt himself, and managed to still turn in a performance that was thrilling, dramatic, and funny at the same time.

Born On The Fourth Of July (1989)

After Top Gun (and the flop that was Cocktail), Cruise began the process of establishing himself as a dramatic actor, and to prove that he’s not just a pretty face. While his performance in the Best Picture winning Rain Man was well received, it was his role as activist Ron Kovic in Born On The Fourth Of July that saw Cruise come of age, earning him a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama, and his first Best Actor Oscar nomination.

Tom, is that you? Cruise looking nigh unrecognisable in Born On The Fourth Of July.
Tom, is that you? Cruise looking nigh unrecognisable in Born On The Fourth Of July.

Collateral (2004)

Cruise doesn’t do bad guys often. In fact, this is probably his only true villain role, playing an assassin who forces Jamie Foxx’s cab driver to drive him to his targets’ locations. His chilling yet cool performance made us wish he would play bad guys more often.

Honourable mentions: Risky Business (1983), Mission: Impossible (1996), Minority Report (2002), Edge Of Tomorrow (2014), Magnolia (1999), The Color Of Money (1986), A Few Good Men (1992).

Cocktail (1988)

The “proud” winner of two Golden Raspberry Awards (including Worst Picture) back in 1988, the only thing positive thing from this movie was that it made bartenders look cool.

A young Cruise looking ... proud.
Don't you wish your bartender was host like this?

Mission Impossible II (2000)

Overwrought, over-the-top, over-blown, over-everything, this was Mission: Impossible in name only. Not even John Woo at the height of his Hollywood popularity could redeem this movie.

Tropic Thunder (2008)

Yes, the movie was funny, and Cruise was funny too. But seeing him in a fat suit, large prosthetic hands, and a bald cap, dancing to Flo Rida’s Low at the end of the movie was just too surreal for words.


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