Tom Cruise’s latest movie, American Made, is now at the Box, and man oh man is it a wild ride. Cruise stars as the real-life pilot turned drug smuggler turned DEA operative Barry Seal. It’s a classic “truth is stranger than fiction” story (although director Doug Liman does stretch the truth quite a bit), and Cruise is the perfect actor to portray a man who had enough charm and wit to convince both the United States government and the heads of the Colombian drug cartel that he was really on each of their teams. It’s an amazing story and Cruise is great in it.
But he’s been great in a lot of movies, now hasn’t he? That’s what makes Tom Cruise one of Hollywood’s most bankable A-listers. His filmography is stocked with fan favorites, but I did my best to pick out 6 of his very best performances.
Top Gun – I have a framed still of this movie in my house, so it was a no-brainer for this list. To me this movie is Classic Cruise — a guy other men want to be like and most women tend to swoon over. Cocky, arrogant and [Yes, Iceman, I am] dangerous. His fighter pilot Maverick and Anthony Edwards’ Goose singing “You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feeling” to Kelly McGillis’ Charlie at the bar is still one of the best scenes of all time.
A Few Good Men – If you don’t think this movie should make the list, then I’m sorry to tell you this, but (say it with me now) “YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!!!” Cruise stars as military lawyer Lt. Kaffee who makes a risky move of calling Jack Nicholson’s Col. Jessep to the stand in an attempt to uncover secrets surrounding the death of a Marine at Guantanamo Bay.
Rain Man – This Oscar-winning dramedy was — in the words of Dustin Hoffman’s Raymond Babbitt — “definitely” going to make the list. Cruise plays the self-centered, morally flexible Lamborghini-importer Charlie Babbitt, who finds out about his autistic older brother after their estranged father dies and leaves his millions to the institution where Raymond lives. Charlie wants to get his hands on that cash, so he retrieves Raymond and they set off on a cross-country road trip, during which Charlie realizes his brother is gifted in ways that would come in handy at, say, a casino.
Jerry Maguire – Cruise plays a sports agent with a conscience who has to rebuild his career from the ground up in the 1996 film responsible for thrusting phrases like “Show me the money!” and “You had me at ‘hello’” into the pop-culture Hall of Fame.
Minority Report – Steven Spielberg directed this 2002 sci-fi thriller set in a future where “precogs” experience visions of not-yet-happened crimes. “Precrime” detectives — such as Cruise’s John Anderton — take the precogs’ information and arrest perpetrators before they even commit their prophesized bad deeds. But when Anderton himself is identified as a future murderer of someone he’s never met, he must go on the run and figure out who’s setting him up. (And we all know that if there is one thing Cruise is excellent at, it’s running!)
Live Die Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow – This 2014 sci-fi head-trip totally surprised me. I was prepared for another “alien movie,” but what I got was an edge-of-your-seat thrill ride that was incredibly smart, and unlike anything I’d seen before. And all of that is on top of excellent performances from Cruise and Emily Blunt, whose characters relive a day of their lives over and over again while trying to learn how to defeat particularly nasty extraterrestrial invaders.
What’s your favorite Tom Cruise movie?