Tom Cruise in 2013

Tom Cruise in 2013 (Photo by DFree on Shutterstock)

Tom Cruise has been prominent in Hollywood since the 1980s when he first appeared in a small role in the 1981 film “Endless Love.” Cruise is as near an example of instant star power as was ever seen in the history of filmmaking. Just two years later, Cruise would play one of his most famous roles as Joel in “Risky Business.” Ever since, the actor has left a mark on audiences with more than 75 movies, many of which are classics. In an effort to weed out his greatest achievements, we researched the top five best Tom Cruise movies of all time that fans praise.

Throughout the beloved actor’s illustrious career, he has starred in a plethora of iconic movies that have left a lasting impact on cinema. From action-packed blockbusters to thought-provoking dramas, Cruise’s versatility shines through in each of his roles, solidifying his status as one of the industry’s most revered and bankable actors.

When it comes to delivering intense thrills and captivating narratives, few actors can match the prowess of Tom Cruise. Whether he’s soaring through the skies as a daring pilot or diving into the depths of complex characters, Cruise’s performances have consistently enthralled audiences and established him as a true cinematic legend.

All in all, Cruise is a major contributor to the motion picture industry. Our list of the top five best Tom Cruise movies can aid curious viewers in finding his most well-reviewed films. Let us know your favorites in the comments below!

Tom Cruise in 2012 (Photo by Featureflash Photo Agency on Shutterstock)

The List: Best Tom Cruise Films, According to Experts


1. “Jerry Maguire” (1996)

“Cruise is terrific in it, winning his second Golden Globe Award for Best Actor and earning nominations from both the Academy and the Screen Actors Guild.  Thanks largely to Cameron Crowe, everything in ‘Jerry Maguire’ just clicks — the romance with newcomer Renée Zellweger is funny and satisfying, his ‘Show me the money!’ scenes with an over-exuberant Rod Tidwell (Oscar winner Cuba Gooding Jr.) and the smart take on the business of sports agentry — and the result is one of the most satisfying romantic comedies of the 1990s,” raves Gold Derby.

"Jerry Maguire" (1996)
“Jerry Maguire” (1996)

Considered by many of our sources to be his greatest film, “Jerry Maguire” is well loved. “The movie is both Cruise’s and director Cameron Crowe’s masterpiece, a portrait of a man adrift that could only be portrayed by one man. Something just works about Cruise as a careerist losing it, like Jerry does when he’s fired from his sports agency and his only allies become bombastic football star Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding Jr.) and secretary Dorothy Boyd (Renée Zellweger),” opines Thrillist.

Readers that remember the original release may recall that this film managed to capture the national zeitgeist. “Like many Cruise films, Jerry Maguire has got so many memorable moments and one-liners that they’ve almost become more famous than the film itself. But the brouhaha over, ‘You complete me’, or, ‘Show me the money!’ masks one of Cruise’s best – and most emotional – films… Still, Cruise and Cameron will have you at, ‘You had me at hello,’” explains Empire.

2. “Rain Man” (1988)

In “Rain Man,” Tom Cruise is a costar to the award-winning lead performance by Dustin Hoffman. “The movie was a major hit, took home Best Picture, and gave Dustin Hoffman his first Oscar. But somehow, Cruise got overlooked as the man who takes his brother on a road trip. As a salesman who only sees dollar signs, he eventually learns to see more in his brother than autism and money. He learns to see emotion. Not many actors can pull off that kind of transformation, but Cruise does it beautifully,” praises Yardbarker.

Even in a supporting role, Cruise is a scene-stealer and solid costar. “It’s ironic that Tom Cruise’s best movie is one in which he plays a supporting role. This perfectly demonstrates Cruise’s incredible versatility and his willingness to step outside of his normal genre work that would eventually define his career,” offers The Manual.

“Rain Man” is a narratively powerful film that showcases the chemistry that Cruise was able to develop with costar Dustin Hoffman. “Cruise’s character wheeler dealer Charlie Babbit, who always seems to be in debt, learns that his estranged father has died, and Charlie, hopeful for a large inheritance in order to pay off his debt, winds up getting a relative pittance.  The lion’s share of the estate is going to an older brother he never knew he had — Raymond (Hoffman)… Hoffman, of course, walked away with the lion’s share of the awards, but Cruise, with the biggest character arc in the film, gives a standout performance as well,” gushes Gold Derby.

3. “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” (2018)

Among the many impressive films of the franchise, “‘Mission: Impossible – Fallout’ has some of the best stunts in the franchise (at least until the next one). Ethan Hunt (Cruise) battles his biggest adversary yet, Walker/John Lark (Henry Cavill) and the apostles, in the film that had everything; skydiving, bathroom brawls, helicopter driving, Paris persecutions, and so much Cruise running (he even broke his ankle in one jump after a long-running sequence),” exclaims MovieWeb.

"Mission Impossible: Fallout" (2018)
“Mission: Impossible – Fallout” (2018)

The “Mission: Impossible,” series looks to be building to a crescendo for its grand finale with “Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning Part One and Two.” With this in mind, “Mission: Impossible – Fallout,” sets the stage in a big way. “This is easily one of the top ten action films ever made— and probably in the top five. Much has already been said about the envelope-pushing action in Fallout (helicopters! gunfights! punching!), so let’s take a moment here to talk about the screenplay: It must be heralded as an invaluable factor in Fallout‘s greatness,” acclaims Parade.

“Frankly, multiple spots in a list of Tom Cruise’s greatest movies could be filled by ‘Mission: Impossible’ films. To do so (as we’ve chosen not to) would perhaps overwhelm the sheer variety of the rest of his career – but in a way, Mission is Cruise’s career. With each passing entry, the saga became a stunt-filled action masterclass in which its leading man goes to greater and greater lengths to bring visceral thrills to the masses – and no Mission film exemplifies that better than Fallout,” details Empire.

4. “Top Gun: Maverick” (2022)

In a huge box office blockbuster, Tom Cruise invited audiences back to the movie theatre after a long pandemic-driven hiatus. “‘Top Gun: Maverick’ is the return of Maverick (Cruise) to the Top Gun school to teach a new class of pilots in what might be the most dangerous mission ever. Cruise is great in the film and should’ve gotten an Oscar nomination for his performance, as he’s all charisma. He also shows some regret about what happened in the first film with Goose, wants to be a father figure to Rooster (Miles Teller), and has the best romantic chemistry of his career with Penny (Jennifer Connelly). The movie became such a box office success that it’s Tom Cruise highest grossing film ever, and with his career, that’s saying something,” explains MovieWeb.

"Top Gun: Maverick" (2022)
“Top Gun: Maverick” (2022)

“We could have chosen the original Top Gun film here, but the most recent sequel is an even better Tom Cruise blockbuster than the classic 1980s hit. Cruise reprises his role as Pete Mitchell in all of his action-packed, perfectly shot glory. ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ is, surprisingly, the highest-grossing film of Cruise’s career, which in itself is a testament to his longevity and devotion to summer movie fun,” adds The Manual.

This film achieved great success in no small part due to expert direction from Joseph Kosinski.  “The real winner of the movie is how much it leans into the practical effects of it all. Cruise has built up a career essentially launching himself into the face of death for our entertainment, and in this movie he does it and brings along a gaggle of young pilots with him. Cruise, Teller, and the cast all underwent flight training and flew in real F/A-18s, pulling real Gs. This enhances everything when you’re watching as a viewer and when Maverick, Rooster, and the other top gun pilots complete their impossible run, it’s impossible not to get a high coming off of their success,” posits Collider.

5. “Magnolia” (1999)

Another role that allows Cruise to shine along with his costars is in this highly lauded ensemble film. “Pouring in every ounce of himself, Cruise’s Oscar-nominated performance is (currently) the last time he’s been recognized by the Academy, and it stands as his finest hour in Paul Thomas Anderson’s mosaic drama. Full of life, energy and heartache, he invites the viewer on the journey, fearless in his interpretation and perfect in his execution,” offers Variety.

Never being afraid to lean into scripted vulgarity has allowed Cruise to avoid being type-cast as a family-friendly star. “Cruise is not the lead in Paul Thomas Anderson’s ambitious 1999 multi-character drama (is anybody?), but he lurks, coiled like a venomous snake, at the film’s heart. As self-help guru Frank T.J. Mackey, Cruise preaches a loathsome brand of male empowerment… but Cruise turns it into a whirling dervish act of competing responses. You start off laughing at Frank, then you’re terrified of him, and finally you realize just how irreparably broken he is. Along the way, you realize the depths of this amazing actor’s talent. It’s a performance that should never ever be forgotten,” comments Rolling Stone

From his earliest efforts in “The Outsiders” Cruise has never shied away from an ensemble film. “In a movie loaded with actors like Philip Seymour Hoffman, John C. Reilly, William H. Macy, and Julianne Moore, Cruise makes an impression. He roams around the frame like a hungry, sharp-toothed lion, ready to pounce on the weak men who come to him for advice. His chauvinistic motivational speaker is unlike any character we’ve ever seen, and Cruise makes sure you care about him despite his deplorable behavior,” writes Yardbarker.

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About Alan Corona

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1 Comment

  1. Doug Ward says:

    Who cares. Why “study this”? Got to national inqureme or TMZ if you life is focused to this simpleton. Join scientology. Study finds. Needs to cocus on drought, weather, floods, crop pest.Chemicals and dangerous drugs. These are things to “study/know about” Cruiser boy is completely irrelevant an unimportant to day to day existence. He haws good teeth. Why? What care does he take. Something on that order may be informative