5 Phenomenal Tom Cruise Movies

PHENOM 5

With the release of his new science fiction romp “Oblivion” this past weekend, I thought it would be as good a time as any to look at the career of Tom Cruise. Now unlike many I actually like Cruise and think he’s a very capable actor. I certainly understand the backlash that followed his past comments and infantile sofa jumping with Oprah. But that was in the past and much more importantly I think his movie resume is pretty impressive and speaks for itself. So today I’m listing 5 Phenomenal Tom Cruise Movies. Now with almost 40 feature films to his credit I wouldn’t go as far as calling this the definitive list. But I have no problem calling these 5 Tom Cruise movies absolutely phenomenal.

CRUISE TOP GUN#5 – “TOP GUN” – I originally had “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol” in this spot. I love that film and consider it easily the best of the franchise. But even though I tried, I couldn’t leave “Top Gun” out of a Tom Cruise list. I fully recognize that “Top Gun” is filled with enough corn and cheese to make a casserole. I also understand that it’s a product of the 80’s and it’s shameless in its display of gratuitous hunk shots. But you know what? I still love it! I still remember being excited about seeing the Kenny Loggins “Danger Zone” video before the film was released and how it amped up my anticipation for the movie. I remember seeing it in the theater and leaving on high. While these days my feelings are more nostalgic, I still hold this 1986 flick from the late Tony Scott close to my heart.

CRUISE JERRY#4 – “JERRY MAGUIRE” – For a long time I heard people I knew singing the praises of “Jerry Maguire”. I had friends who were constantly yelling “Show me the money!” at the tops of their lungs. But I wasn’t able to chime in because I was late coming to this 1996 Tom Cruise drama. But once I finally caught up with it I understood what my buddies had been so excited about. Now I have to admit that it wasn’t Tom Cruise that drew me to this picture. I was really interested in catching up to Cameron Crowe’s work and I was attracted to the sports element of the story. But I found that it was Cruise who really carries the film. I love his performance. He had me sympathizing with him during some scenes and he had me wanting to slap his face in others. It’s a showy performance but it feels right at home in this really good film.

CRUISE MINORITY#3 – “MINORITY REPORT” – This is another of Tom Cruise’s films that I caught up with well after its theatrical release. But it’s another one of his films that blew me away after I saw it. This Steven Spielberg science fiction thriller completely caught me off guard. I went in with pretty mediocre expectations but I was surprised to find a well written and deeply layered story that grabbed me from its opening moments. Cruise gives yet another strong performance as an officer in a preemptive crime task force. He’s faced with a variety of moral quandries and soon finds himself in the middle of a complex murder investigation. Again it’s Cruise who drives this movie and he’s an absolute blast to watch as things in the movie go absolutely bezerk. This is a great sci-fi picture.

Cruise Collateral#2 -“COLLATERAL” – Whether you like Tom Cruise or not you have to admit that over his career he has branched out and hasn’t been afraid of tackling fresh new roles. There’s no better example of that than his role as a professional hitman in Michael Mann’s “Collateral”. In the film Cruise pays an unwitting taxi driver (Jamie Foxx) to drive him around Los Angeles to his five important “appointments”. Armed with firearms and funky dyed hair, Cruise moves effortlessly between his cold-blooded contract killer persona to waxing philosophically in the back of Foxx’s cab. He kills it with his performance and I think it’s some of the best work of his career. If you want to see Cruise’s range, this is a good film to get that.

Cruise Samurai#1 – “THE LAST SAMURAI” – I’ll never forget the first time seeing “The Last Samurai”. I went to the theater on a Friday morning with no expectations whatsoever. I mean we are talking about Tom Cruise as a samurai, right? I left that theater blown away, so much so that I returned the next day to see it again with my wife. First off, Cruise gives a fantastic performance. It may not be his very best work, but for me this is hands down my favorite Tom Cruise movie. Whether it’s his scenes as a burnt-out alcoholic or the great moments he shares with Ken Watanabe, Cruise makes what sounds like a ridiculous role for him into one of of his more multifaceted performances. I never get tired of “The Last Samurai” and for my money it’s Cruise’s best.

So there they are. My 5 phenomenal Tom Cruise movies. See some you like or dislike? Have different films that would make your list? Please take time to share you thoughts below.

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55 thoughts on “5 Phenomenal Tom Cruise Movies

  1. Interesting list here bro. It’s vastly different from what I’d choose though,. For what it’s worth: 1: Magnolia 2: Born on the 4th July 3: Eyes Wide Shut 4: Interview with the Vampire 5: The Colour of Money.

    • Very interesting indeed.

      1. I’ve never seen Magnolia even though I’ve heard a lot about it. I knew it would be mentioned by folks.
      2. I’m just not a fan of this film. Cruise is excellent in it but as a whole the movie didn’t work for me. I do need to revisit it though.
      3. Another one of his that didn’t really knock my socks off. Then again I’m one of the only people on the planet who thinks Kubrick was very hit or miss! LOL
      4. I liked it originally but over time I’ve kinda forgotten it.
      5. I like this flick and gave it serious consideration.

      Good stuff bro! Love the discussion.

  2. Nice list! I agree that all those roles are fine choices and are some of my favorites too (Ghost Protocol would be up there too)–but I would add/change a few.

    Rain Man–this will forever be the film, for me, that changed my opinion of Cruise–Color of Money, was good but that was all Newman. Charlie Babbit showed his range and his charisma.

    A Few Good Men–strong ensemble, but still a fantastic film (thanks, Aaron Sorkin). Cruise proves he is a star that can hold his own.

    Knight and Day–Maybe not one of his best, but what a guilty pleasure! And I truly dislike Cameron Diaz most of the time. I felt that Cruise playfully winked at all his crazy–and acknowledged his “Tom Cruise-ness”. I enjoyed his performance thoroughly. Should also give a shout out to his funny cameo in Tropic Thunder. ๐Ÿ˜€

    Until next time!

  3. Good picks, he really is an under-appreciated actor. Here are my top five.
    1. Magnolia
    2. Eyes Wide Shut
    3. Born on the Fourth of July
    4. Minority Report
    5. Collateral

  4. Nice list. Like you I like Tom, and consider him to be a good actor. He also does a good job of working with great directors.

    Here is my Top-5:

    5. Risky Business
    4. Top Gun
    3. Born on the 4th of July
    2. Tropic Thunder
    1. Collateral

    I always felt “Collateral” never got its due because it came after the ill-fated sofa jumping incident, as well as following a few clunkers.

    From your list, though I liked his performance in “Minority Report”, the story had too many holes for a film that was both a Tom Cruise and Steven Spielberg film for me to ever like it.

  5. Where is Magnolia… Awesome.

    And I loved the first 2/3 of Last Samurai… but the ending was awful. He took like 234324 bullets, and survived while no one else did? I couldn’t look past that part.

    Collateral is definitely my favorite of his. That film is amazing.

    • You know to my shame I still haven’t seen Magnolia.

      As for Cruise’s endurance. He was walking with a cane at the end. That wasn’t enough for you? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  6. Wahoo!!! You’ve got the three fave I listed on Ted’s top 10 here, Collateral, Minority Report and The Last Samurai!! I think my other two would go to Mission: Impossible and Jerry Maguire. He’s definitely got range, though I’d love to see him play against type more often like in Collateral.

    • ๐Ÿ™‚

      I originally had MI: Ghost Protocol at #5 but that goofy old 80’s nostalgia thing kicked in and I had to put in Top Gun cheese and all! ๐Ÿ˜€

      • Ahahaha, as I said before, it’s GOOD cheese, so nothing wrong w/ putting Top Gun on here. It’s funny that the flying sequences in Oblivion reminds me of Top Gun a lot!

  7. Cruise is definitely a challenge for lists like these, cause he’s been so prolific, and so many movies he’s been in have been excellent. I’m not a huge fan of Collateral, though I recognize that I’m in the minority and that it was definitely a change of pace for Cruise.

    The one I’d holler for the most that’s been excluded here would be “A Few Good Men”. An outstanding flick. The bellowing courtroom scene between him and Nicholson is unforgettable. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

  8. I can see from other comments that you haven’t watched Magnolia, but I”ll say it anyway – that would be my pick for number one. Otherwise, pretty solid list!

    • Thanks man. I’m still shocked that Cocktail a hasn’t received mass applause! ๐Ÿ™‚

      To be serious, I am a little surprised that no one has mentioned The Firm. Not one of my favorites but a pretty good movie. I remember it having quite a few fans at one time.

  9. Oh man, you’ve gotta watch Magnolia. In a film full of great performances, Cruise is at the top. I would also include Rain Man, as he and Dustin Hoffman played off each other fantastically. Glad to see Collateral at #2 though — I would love to see more “villainous” work from him.

  10. Great list, Keith. I haven’t seen Jerry Maguire or The Last Samurai, but the others are all films I thought were excellent (and those two certainly have strong reputations).

    I never understood the couch backlash. The Scientology/anti-psychology comments, sure. But the couch thing? Just never understood what the big deal was. He wasn’t hurting anything, wasn’t saying or doing anything bad. He was just acting like a big excitable goofball. Which is what he’s paid to do. From Risky Business all the way to Tropic Thunder, he gets paid to be a goofball in entertainment as much as anything else. And people were giving him crap over… being a goofball on an entertainment program? Come on.

    • I do think Cruise was hammered to much for that. And even the Scientology comments, that stuff was in the past now and I haven’t heard anything like that from him since. I think he deserves a break from this fashionable dislike some people have.

  11. Don’t care about his personal life, only about the work. Knight and Day is just charisma fueled fun. Magnolia is dark and his character is memorable. MI III is his best performance in the MI series. Risky Business is star power being launched but Rain Man is his high point.

    • Interesting that you liked Knight and Day. I really didn’t think it was as terrible as most people. It wasn’t really good either to me. I thought Cruise was pretty funny in it.

  12. Freaking love The Last Samurai. Often feel like it’s a bit of a forgotten film when it comes to people listing Tom Cruise’s best roles. Seriously amazing film and fantastic role for him. He had great chemistry with Ken Watanabe too. That film sends me to tears every damn time I watch it and it’s all because of Tom fricking Cruise!

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