Movies & TV / Columns

The 411 Movies Top 5 11.23.12: Week 360 – Top 5 Tom Cruise Movies

February 8, 2013 | Posted by Shawn S. Lealos

Welcome to Week 360 of the Movie Zone Top 5. My name is Shawn S. Lealos and you have entered my world.

The 411mania writers were given the following instructions: There isn’t much this week to choose from, so with Top Gun hitting theaters again in 3D, I figured what the heck. These movie just need to have Tom Cruise acting in them, whether as a star or as a cameo role.


Bryan Kristopowitz

Honorable Mentions: Losin’ It (1983), Risky Business (1983), Legend (1985), Mission: Impossible II (2000), Minority Report (2002), Rock of Ages (2012)

5. Top Gun (1986)

I don’t even like Top Gun, but I can’t deny the fact that without his performance as ace fighter pilot Maverick there would be no Tom Cruise. I’ve seen the movie at least five times and still have no idea what it’s really about, but then stuff like that doesn’t really matter. It’s about the jet fighting scenes, the “iconic” bits, like the scene where Maverick rides on his motorcycle and watches the jets take off, the “I feel the need… the need for speed” scene, the “talk to me Goose” stuff, etc. The movie is just filled with this stuff. Again, I’m not a big fan of this movie, but there’s just no denying how much it matters to both Cruise’s career and pop culture in general. People are still quoting this movie twenty-seven years later.

4. Jack Reacher (2012)

It’s a damn shame that this movie, based on the novel One Shot by Lee Child, wasn’t a bigger box office hit because I would love to see Cruise turn this into his second franchise behind the Mission: Impossible series. Cruise is a supreme badass as Jack Reacher, a retired military investigator who shows up out of the blue to investigate a seemingly random sniper attack in Pittsburgh. With the help of the alleged sniper’s defense attorney (played by Rosamund Pike), Reacher eventually figures the whole thing out. I won’t say what precisely Reacher finds but it’s not what you’d expect (I thought the big reason for the killings was kind of underwhelming at first, but after I thought about it for a little while I digged it. It makes sense). Hopefully, somehow, people buy Jack Reacher on DVD, make it a mega hit there, and Paramount Pictures gives the go ahead to do another one.

And, am I the only one who really wanted to see what Reacher did to that guy on the bus at the end?

3. A Few Good Men (1992)

Everyone remember Jack Nicholson’s Colonel Jessup from this movie, and for good reason. The man is a prick, an asshole, and a total douchebag (do I really want him on that wall?). But Cruise’s Navy lawyer Lt. Kafee, a sort of lame ass lazy lawyer who ends up exposing Jessup in court after slowly realizing he can be a good lawyer if he really wants to, is fun to watch, too. Because how the hell is he going to defeat Jack Nicholson? How? Director Rob Reiner, who had a great script by Aaron Sorkin to work with, engages in expert casting (Kevin Bacon, Kevin Pollak, Keifer Sutherland, and Demi Moore are also involved) and pacing. When everyone gets into that courtroom, man, sparks fly. Still as powerful as ever.

2. Rain Man (1988)

Yet another Cruise flick where the real star is someone else, in this case Dustin Hoffman as Raymond, the autistic older brother to Cruise’s Charlie Babbitt. When the movie begins Cruise is an asshole with a big chip on his shoulder. He’s pissed off about how his dead father gave the family fortune to Raymond instead of to him. In an attempt to extort that money from the family lawyer, Charlie takes Raymond away from the institution he lives in and takes him on the road. The majority of the movie is that road trip, where the Babbitt brothers form a kind of comedy team. And Charlie slowly grows to not only understand his brother, but also to love him (that scene at the end where they touch foreheads still gets me). I try to watch this movie at least once a year. Hoffman certainly deserved his Oscar win. It’s a shame that Cruise didn’t get a nomination, too. He deserved one.

1. Days of Thunder (1990)

While it isn’t exactly realistic, Days of Thunder captures the essential essence of what NASCAR used to be (or at least tried to be) before it became a big time American sport. Cruise’s character Cole Trickle gets one of the greatest character entrances of all time when he shows up to test Rowdy Burns’ (the great Michael Rooker) car at Charlotte. Trickle is a total badass on his motorcycle, and then shows he’s an even bigger badass when he turns incredibly fast practice laps (they were under Rowdy’s time). Cruise’s back and forth with his crew chief Harry Hyde, played by Robert Duvall (they would sort of reunite in Jack Reacher twenty-two years later), both during races and during practice sessions (“Tires is what wins a race”). I’ll admit that this movie suffers through some of the same problems as Top Gun (also directed by Tony Scott) in that it really isn’t about anything. But the love story between Trickle and his doctor Claire Lewicki (Nicole Kidman), and Trickle’s sort of rivalry with Russ Wheeler (Cary Elwes) towards the end of the movie make up for the ridiculous plot.

“No, no, he didn’t slam you, he didn’t bump you, he didn’t nudge you, he rubbed you. And rubbin, son, is racing.”

Ha. Still meaningful after all these years.

Michael Weyer

5. Mission: Impossible

Fans of the original TV series might complain over how the team element turns into a one-man show or how it treats Jim Phelps. But this blockbuster is still a great action fim as Cruise’s Ethan Hunt is set up for the deaths of his own team and has to go to wild lengths to prove his innocence. Brian DePalma’s direction pushes it on with brilliant moments like the terrific scene where Cruise breaks into a vault in silence that gives you chills. Cruise himself handles the action stuff along with a great confidence needed for the character to pull you on even through the wilder scenes and make this a fine action film worthy of its franchise name.

4. Collateral

Highly underrated, this Michael Mann thriller takes the bold risk of casting Cruise against time as a cold-blooded contract killer who hijacks a cab driver (Jamie Foxx) to take him to his various hits. However, Cruise is quite effective in the role, cold and methodical, a dark humor but willing to do what it takes to get the job done. The scene where he trades jazz trivia with his latest target before letting him know he’s about to kill him is still chilling and Cruise commands the film with a darkness few would have guessed that helps it shine.

3. Top Gun

The epitome of the ’80’s in a single film. It may be a bit laughable today but Cruise still shines in the role that made him a mega-star as he plays a cocky Navy pilot sent for training. Tony Scott’s direction aids the film with its still impressive flying scenes and the montages to ’80’s tunes. Watching today, you can see the young Cruise, full of fire and ready to take on the world and he helps the movie take off more with that attitude. He’s fun but still able to sell key moments like the death of his best friend and the worries of cracking under the pressure. A time capsule of a certain period, it also shows you just when Cruise became more than merely a star and something far bigger.

2. A Few Good Men

Aaron Sorkin made himself a name with the script for this movie, a great and powerful drama that resonates still. Cruise is a cocky Navy lawyer who prides himelf on never actually going to court when he’s set to defend a pair of Marines who are accused of kiling a fellow soldier in a disciplanary action gone wrong. Demi Moore is actually great as the ramrod lawyer pushing him on and watching Cruise clash with Jack Nicholson’s hard-ass Colonel is pure fireworks. Sorkin’s amazing script drives the story as Cruise is great showing this arrogant guy finally becoming a true lawyer with a powerful climax.

1. Jerry Maguire

True, much of its success is due to the clever script by Cameron Crowe. But Cruise turns in one of his best performances ever as a sports agent who has an epihany and talks of how much better their work can be, which gets him fired. Down to one client (Cuba Gooding Jr in his Oscar-winning role), he tries to navigate this new life in a script sparkling with great humor and drive. Matched by Rene Zellwegger in her breakout performance, Cruise is terrific pulling you into this selfish man turning into a better person and making you root for his character all the way to the famous ending that may seem sappy but damn if Cruise doesn’t sell it wonderfully.

Jeremy Thomas

Honorable Mentions: Risky Business, Mission: Impossible III, Rain Man

5. Collateral (2004)

Tom Cruise tends to be underrated by many as an actor. I’ve heard a lot of people talk about his limited range, and there was certainly a time when I believed that as well. Time after time however the actor has taken roles that have change my perception about the depth of his range and Collateral was one of those times. Michael Mann has always been a great director with a very stylish hand and a way around crime thrillers such as Heat, Manhunter and Public Enemies. Collateral may just be my favorite of his; it is close between it and Heat. This is a film where there isn’t a ton of substance in it, but it’s also not a film about greater truths of one that seeks to find a deeper meaning in life. Sometimes a film can just be there to provide a tense, thrilling experience from start to finish and this one does just that. Without a lot of story, the film relies heavily on Cruise and Jamie Foxx to carry the film and they do so incredibly well. Cruise’s Vincent is a true professional, a hit man who has no problem doing whatever he needs to in order to get the job done. But he’s also not incredibly flashy; if you passed by him on the street you wouldn’t give him a second thought and just assume he’s a businessman. It’s harder than some might think to carry the menace and be the villain that Cruise is while staying as toned back as he does, and it was clearly the right decision. Meanwhile, Foxx is the perfect counterpart, playing the everyman stuck in an impossible situation. With Mann’s distinctive visual flair applied to these two people who end up in a cat-and-mouse game throughout Los Angeles, you have something truly special.

4. Minority Report (2002)

Minority Report was exactly what everyone hoped it would be. Pair Stephen Spielberg, a director with a near-unassailable track record, with one of the biggest movie stars of the last thirty years and put them on a fantastic script based on an excellent story by Phillip K. Dick. The expectations were for nothing less than a great film, and that is exactly what we received. Cruise takes his action mode and adds a touch of heart and brains as PreCrime Department Chief John Anderton, who finds himself the head of a manhunt after his own precognitives finger him for a crime he hasn’t committed but will. Cruise brings out all of the dimensions of Anderton well from his devastation over the loss of his son years earlier and the drug addiction that has come about because of it to his professionalism when he’s behind the motion-activated glass that is his computer. Max Von Sydow adds gravitas to the role of Anderton’s superior while Colin Farrell was great as the cocky DoJ agent who is on Anderton’s trail and a bit skeptical of PreCrime as a process. This is one of those films that manages to be an exciting action film but also contains some very lofty concepts about fate, free will versus determinism, the political and legal systems, mass media and even the way we perceive ourselves. Spielberg’s visual look for the film is magnificent and the story contains a lot of twists and turns but they never stretch suspension of disbelief so far that it breaks. The supporting performances from Samantha Morton, Steve Harris, Kathryn Morris and Peter Stormare are all great as well. This is one I love watching over and over.

3. Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011)

It is somewhat fitting that Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol was the film that truly brought Tom Cruise back in a big way, considering that Mission: Impossible III was the first film hurt by audiences’ rejection of him for his public antics. Cruise had made other good films in his slow comeback before last year’s big hit; Knight & Day is incredibly underrated and Valkyrie was a bit unfairly criticized, for example. But this is the best of the film during his comeback that had him in a true starring role. There was a lot of risk with it; Cruise’s box office commodity was still something people were unsure of and Brad Bird, while a great director, had never directed a live-action film and certainly not one of this scope. Trust Bird and producers Cruise and J.J. Abrams to surprise everyone with a film that is easily the best of the franchise to date and delivered the best pure action film of 2011. Cruise found himself completely back to top form and he has the best supporting cast of any of the MI films with Simon Pegg upgraded to a field agent role and Paula Patton and Jeremy Renner doing spectacular work. The action scenes are universally thrilling, particularly the two Dubai action sequences, and the continuity in this film is a lot tighter than any of the previous entries. This film doesn’t just feel like another disconnected entry; it feels like the next chapter of a story and that makes it better. This was by far the best surprise of last year for me.

2. The Color of Money (1986)

In 1986, Tom Cruise was on the way to becoming a movie star. Films like Risky Business and Top Gun had shown that. However, he was not on his way, at least in public perception, to becoming a great actor. The Color of Money was the film that made people realize that he might in fact have it in him to be one of the great actors of his generation in addition to being one of the great movie stars. This sequel to The Hustler saw Paul Newman reprising his role as pool hustler Fast Eddie Felson, with Cruise as the young protégé Vincent and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio as Carmen. With Martin Scorsese behind the camera, Newman acted his way to a well-deserved Best Actor Oscar and Cruise held his own in the supporting role. I think this one sometimes gets a bit underrated because it’s not quite as good as The Hustler, but if your line between good and bad films is directly under that film then you must hate going to the movie theater with all the films you must consider to be crap. Cruise knocked this one out of the park and changed a lot of people’s minds about him. The film easily holds up today as a great piece of film-making and is (clearly, from the ranking) one of my favorite Cruise pictures.

1. Jerry Maguire (1996)

This is one of my favorite films, a movie that appeals to men as strongly as it does to women and I love it just as much now as I did when it first came out in 1996. Few films have successfully been able to merge two disparate elements to truly become what the movie industry calls a “four-quadrant movie”–in other words, appealing to both men and women and both over and under twenty-five years old. Jerry Maguire not only does it, it makes it feel effortless. This is Cruise’s best performance ever, bar none. His journey from the start to the end of the film is completely believable and entirely sympathetic; he is a character who has a lot to grow at the beginning but you see the potential there. It is a rare film that utilizes voiceover and does it well; it is a rare film that succeeds at being all things at once. This is one of those films that does so. Renée Zellweger has an unreal amount of chemistry with Cruise and yet as good as they both are, they’re nearly upstaged by Cuba Gooding, Jr. I know that Cuba is more or less a joke these due to poor role choices but that takes nothing away from his fantastic work here. Add in Jay Mohr as an asshole agent and Cameron Crowe’s usual masterful touch and you have the greatest Tom Cruise film ever made, at least in my opinion.

Chad Webb

Honorable Mentions: Eyes Wide Shut, Tropic Thunder, Collateral, Mission: Impossible III, Mission: Impossible-Ghost Protocol

5. Top Gun (1986)

I thought hard about putting one of the Mission: Impossible installments on here, but honestly I couldn’t choose between III & Ghost Protocol so they cancelled each other out and Top Gun gets the spot. Calling Top Gun a four-star film would be an exaggeration to be sure, but it is a classic in some sense. Like many Cruise offerings, the music is masterful. The anthem by Harold Faltermeyer & Steve Stevens is impossible to shake from your head after watching; it meshes seamlessly with the plot and is uber cool anyway. The entire soundtrack is effective both in and out of the movie, which is so exceedingly rare these days. I don’t need to explain the plot or the characters. We all know them by now. Cruise was a rising star at this time and Maverick defined the slick, romantic, and manly attitude he so often displayed. You have great performances from Anthony Edwards, Val Kilmer, Kelly McGillis, Meg Ryan, Tom Skerritt, Michael Ironside, James Tolkan, and the list goes on. I would wager that this is one of those movies everyone gets sucked into when they see it on TV, and since it’s on TV all the damn time, this happens to us regularly…and that’s ok. This is arguably the best effort from the late Tony Scott. It illustrates all of his strengths as a director. I’m glad the sequel is not moving forward. We don’t need one. We don’t need it in 3D either, but I digress.

4. Magnolia (1999)

Here we have Cruise as one of many stars in an ensemble. This is a hyperlink film with several interconnecting stories, but Cruise received the only Oscar nomination from this all-star cast and it marks his most recent Academy nod to date. Before seeing this, a friend urged me to avoid it, called it the awful “raining frogs” movie. Eventually I saw and loved it despite the warnings. Written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, Magnolia is a magnificent movie that covers a lot of ground and deals with numerous characters. I won’t go into great detail about the story threads, but it takes place in the San Fernando Valley. Cruise plays Frank Mackey, a guru of the “Search and Destroy” lifestyle. He is the estranged son of Earl (Jason Robards), who is dying of cancer and wants to reunite with his son. Cruise is endlessly riveting throughout this 3 hour feature and unleashes the priceless line: “Respect the cock! And tame the cunt! Tame it!” Magnolia is a mesmerizing achievement to this day. It’s engaging, compelling, and well worth revisiting if you’ve only seen it once. The reason I think it is one of Cruise’s top 5 is because he portrays a character we’re not accustomed to seeing him play and soars with him. Paul Thomas Anderson has a knack for evoking facets of an actor you never thought existed. As much as I love watching Cruise kick a$$, I hope he mixes it up more in the future and chooses unpredictable roles like this.

3. Minority Report (2002)

This is a film I need to watch again, but it definitely deserves a position among Tom Cruise’s best offerings because it is near flawless. Everyone involved in this brought their A-game. Steven Spielberg might get some flack from time to time for alleged “Oscar bait” titles, but when it comes to science-fiction, there are not many filmmakers that surpass him. Here he takes Cruise as his star with a spectacular cast including Max Von Sydow, Colin Farrell, and Samantha Morton. They are all top-notch. Combine the stellar line-up with the amazing special effects and the awe-inspiring balance of action, drama, and mystery and you have a great accomplishment. What makes Minority Report so good is that it presents the viewer with all the accessible trademarks of a blockbuster, but integrated with a script (based on a short story by Philip K. Dick) that is absorbing and thought-provoking. There are moral, ethical, and philosophical aspects that are explored throughout. Spielberg molds elements from action thrillers, film noir, and futuristic adventures into one exhilarating epic. Come to think of it, I need a Blu-Ray upgrade of this.

2. Jerry Maguire (1996)

I’m not big on romantic comedies generally and to be truthful this one possesses quite a few cliches in its own right, but the performances are absolutely fantastic and the characters are fleshed out marvelously. As a sports agent, Tom Cruise appears to be more natural in the part than he has in any other character throughout his career. He is believable, confident, and engrossing. He establishes innate chemistry with Rene Zellweger (and Jonathan Lipnicki for that matter). Few will disagree that this remains the peak for Cuba Gooding Jr. as Rod Tidwell, Jerry’s sole client as events unfold. This is more of a romance than a comedy, but it’s really about Jerry, his gambles, and the ways his life is changing. Cameron Crowe wrote and directed this profound and poignant piece and once again a great Cruise entry incorporates unforgettable music with Bruce Springsteen’s “Secret Garden” leading the charge. The audience is sympathetic to the situations with each character and that’s imperative to our connection with the screenplay. There are so many iconic moments here, not to mention the classic line “You complete me.” The acting is phenomenal, but Crowe deserves a lot of the credit for crafting this story and making it so intriguing, emotional, and fulfilling.

1. The Last Samurai (2003)

Maybe this is an odd #1 choice in the eyes of some, but I’ve always loved this movie and have seen it about as much as my #2 pick, if not slightly more. Personally, I feel this is the best example of what Tom Cruise brings to the table as an actor. In depicting a Civil War Captain and Samurai, it showcases his abilities as an action hero, his dramatic prowess, his romantic side, and his range all in one package. Few Cruise roles capture all of those strengths. The only quality Nathan Algren lacks is humor, but the important thing is it exhibits Cruise’s charisma and dedication brilliantly. Edward Zwick directs this epic, and although it is not perfectly accurate from a historical sense, that matters little to me. Everything about this film works. Ken Watanabe is outstanding alongside Cruise, but this is filled with superb supporting performances from Timothy Spall, Masato Harado, Shin Koyamada, and Koyuki. The cinematography is excellent, the costumes and colors are vivid, the battle sequences are beautifully shot, and the score is one of my favorite of all-time. Cruise leads the cast with conviction and passion and Zwick recreates this era with class.

Jeremy Wilson

5. Top Gun (1986)

I’m sorry, but I can’t have a list of the Top However-Many Tom Cruise Movies without including Top Gun. No, it’s not Citizen Kane. Then again, I don’t even think it’s Born on the Fourth of July or A Few Good Men. But…it’s Top Gun. For many (me included) it is one of the movies that defines the’80s and defines Cruise’s rise to stardom in that very Reagan-defined decade. Whether you even like the movie or not (or think it’s any good) doesn’t really matter. You remember the cast. You remember the call signs. You remember the quotes. And you sure as hell remember the music. Top Gun is a seminal movie of that era that firmly established Cruise’s star status and continues to be enjoyed years later (represented by the fact that it is being re-released in IMAX 3D this week). As Sterling Archer would say, “Call Kenny Loggins, cuz you’re in the DAAAANNNGER ZOOOONNNE!

4. Rain Man (1988)

Tom Cruise can act. It’s just that too often he chooses not to. More often than not, it feels as if Cruise is playing a variation on a theme, content with being the big movie star. However, every so often he does take on a challenge and pushes himself. Granted, Barry Levinson’s Rain Man is most often viewed as Dustin Hoffman’s film (he did win the Oscar for it), but Cruise’s work is just as necessary for the film to work as well as it does. Cruise had been the hot rising star and had worked with a premier director before this (The Color of Money with Martin Scorsese), but Rain Man felt like the first time Cruise could be more than the youthful, attractive and likable leading man. It’s also the second film he starred in that garnered an Oscar for a male co-star (it would happen again for 1996’s Jerry Maguire). Rain Man is the best ’80s movie Cruise was in and remains well thought of by critics and fans alike.

3. Collateral (2004)

Yet another film in which Cruise helps a co-star achieve accolades, Michael Mann’s stylishly nocturnal thriller is probably better known as Jaime Foxx’s dramatic breakout, but it is Cruise that really grabs audience expectations by the throat in a stunning turn as Vincent, a hitman who hires/kidnaps Foxx’s taxi driver while he carries out four hits in one night. Cruise seems – on the surface – like a questionable choice to portray this kind of character, but the superstar actor makes it his and fits perfectly in Mann’s kind of cinema. What could have turned into a wall-to-wall action film is instead a much more interesting character study centered on Cruise’s philosophical assassin. It was genius casting on Mann’s part and Cruise’s performance made Collateral one of the more interesting great movies of the ’00s.

2. Minority Report (2002)

I actually really like Cruise’s Mission Impossible films. I think they range from solid-to-very good action films that almost always deliver on some level. But if you’re asking me what’s the best “action” film Cruise has ever made, it’s Minority Report – and it’s not that close. It’s strange, even more than a decade later, that one has to constantly evaluate and reaffirm what one thinks about Minority Report. Perhaps it has something to do with it being fashionable for Internet bloggers and more high-minded film critics to dismiss much of both Cruise and Spielberg’s oeuvres. However, the fact that the film is the coming together of perhaps the biggest director and movie star of the past half-century doesn’t actually do much to express how great a movie it actually is. A stellar cast executing a top-notch script and story, supported by special effects and an overall aesthetic that still holds up remarably well over a decade later (something that can’t be said for some of its action/sci-fi contemporaries). Minority Report is one of the best science fiction films of the past two decades and certainly one of the best Cruise efforts as well.

1. Magnolia (1999)

So sue me. It might not be a “Tom Cruise movie” in the strictest sense, but it IS the best film Cruise has ever been in AND it’s his best performance. Paul Thomas Anderson’s 1999 masterpiece isn’t defined by Tom Cruise’s performance as Frank Mackey, but one could definitely make the argument that it wouldn’t be the same without it. The best of Cruise’s many great supporting turns, Cruise losing the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor to Michael Caine (The Cider House Rules) is still bemoaned by many, whether they fancy themselves fans of the superstar actor or not. Cruise is an underrated actor, but more often than not, when he works with a great director (and he has worked with many in his career), it usually works out and shows more of him as a performer than anyone thought he had in him. For me, his work with P.T. Anderson is the pinnacle of this, a role he stretched himself with and allowed himself to be reduced to a supporting cog in a larger ensemble. For me, Magnolia is the best example that there is more to Tom Cruise than being the big action star. After spending most of the ’90s content with being the dashing leading man, Cruise finally decided to temporarily eschew the star vehicles he is usually known for and took risks for auteur visions (Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut was also released in 1999). It’s not the kind of gimmicky, over-the-top supporting nod he later gave in Tropic Thunder. No, this (his last Oscar nomination) was perhaps the closest we’ve ever gotten to getting a pure performance from Cruise, unconcerned with star status or possible franchises that have generally defined people’s perceptions. In a stellar cast that featured some of the best actors around (Julianne Moore, William H. Macy, Philip Seymour Hoffman, etc…), Cruise’s star arguably burns brightest. And that is one hell of an accomplishment.

John “D-Rock” Dotson

5. Mission: Impossible III

It was a bit of a struggle trying to decide if the latest Mission: Impossible or this one was in fact a better film. In the end, this entry defeats them all in delivering relentless entertainment from start to finish. This was J. J. Abrams first major film and damn if it was not a great kick-start to his career. Not only is the action magnificently executed but the film is strongly driven by a nasty villain played by the always amazing Philip Seymour Hoffman. I have lots of love for Mission: Impossible- Ghost Protocol, but in my opinion, the third entry is the most nail biting film of the franchise.

4. Vanilla Sky

I realize I’m going to take a lot of shit for including this but I cant deny my love for this movie, even if it means taking a few jabs from you readers. The film is no doubt flawed, but Vanilla Sky is a movie that I could not stop thinking about long after my first viewing. I love how the story shows how one wreckless decision can affect the rest of your life. I think it was this aspect that stuck with me the most. Also, the nature of pop culture and how it plays into an individual’s journey is brilliantly conveyed in this film. I give major props to Cruise for tackling the role of David Aames because in no way was this a “safe” movie. Hate it or love it, Vanilla Sky takes Tom Cruise to unusual places.

3. Jerry Maguire

This is just a great film that hardly needs justifying. I think what makes Jerry Maguire work for so many, is that it incorporates a little something for everyone. There is a sports drama for the men, and a romantic storyline for the women. Tom Cruise does a magnificent job playing a desperate sports agent trying to make a career comeback. Him and Renee Zelwegger have great onscreen chemistry as well. The film is packed with many memorable performances and moments that have been quoted excessively in other movies. I will always hold Jerry Maguire in high regard for the impact it had on my cinematic youth.

2. Tropic Thunder

Tom Cruise as the foul mouthed Hollywood producer Les Grossman is one of the funniest damn things in Tropic Thunder. Every scene with his character is just pure madness. I could not believe some of the lines he spouts off at characters in this film. One scene in particular where he completely unloads on a vietnamese soldier is just hilariously amazing. His role may be small in the movie, but when he shows up, Les Grossman will show you how much shits he doesn’t give. This is one of the ballsiest performances from Cruise and one of the funniest aspects of Tropic Thunder

1. Collateral

Without a doubt the role of Vincent in the Michael Mann film Collateral is the most engaging performance from Cruise. Vincent is organized, merciless, and unquestionably dangerous. It’s a shame we don’t see Cruise play more villains because he does a surprisingly great job. The film is also carried by a strong well developed script and great direction. Cruise and Jamie Foxx play off each other incredibly well and keep the conflict interesting with every beat. Every moment keeps you on edge wondering how Max is going to escape the clutch of Vincent. This is a unique powerhouse performance from Cruise and my personal favorite from his career.


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