TOP 7 Tom Cruise Movies

We start the Top 7. You finish the Top 10.

I like Tom Cruise movies. There, I said it. If I see his name in the credits, I expect to be entertained. For those of you who disagree, I really don’t know what you’re looking for. He throws himself into performances, cares about the finished product, and will occasionally surprise you with his range as an actor (not just superstar). But this list isn’t just about Cruise. It’s also about his choices. This TOP 7 list isn’t only about his character or his performance, it’s about the movie as a whole. He doesn’t always need to be leading the way, or have the most memorable part as you’ll see with four of my five favorite Cruise movies.

complete coverage of Knight and Day, including review

Knight and Day hits the theaters on June 23, 2010. While it wouldn’t crack this TOP 7 list, we do get to see a new side of Cruise on the big screen. I call it “Crazy Cruise” and once again, he entertains. Before we begin, I want to apologize to Les Grossman, Cole Trickle and Joel Goodsen. There’s just not room for all of you on this list. Do you want to know what pains me most of all? There’s no room for Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg. That’s right, I really liked Valkyrie. And if you are rolling your eyes right now, it probably means you haven’t seen it. Or perhaps you are German, and even though director Bryan Singer sold me on the accent transition, it was too much for you. But I’m not here to talk about my number eight. On with the list …

7. Mission: Impossible III (2006)

Recap: Ethan Hunt (Cruise) and his team of super agents are on another mission that looks very improbable. A dangerous arms dealer (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) discovers Ethan’s identity and makes this personal.
Reason: J.J. Abrams makes this part three the best in the series. It’s just pure, intense action. The set pieces, like Ethan avoiding rockets on a bridge, are fantastic to look at. Plus, Hoffman finally gives us a villain with some weight (no, not his mid-section) to fear. Besides the Bourne movies, I don’t have a more satisfying action movie from the last five years.

6. Top Gun (1986)

Recap: Maverick (Cruise) is a hot-shot navy pilot who enters and Top Gun flight academy, only to have to deal with rivals like Iceman (Val Kilmer), and his own personal, cocky attitude.
Reason: I feel the need, the need to quote the top lines from this movie! Jester’s dead! That’s right! Ice…man. I am dangerous. You can be my wingman any time. That last one is brought to new light by Quentin Tarantino’s rant in Sleep With Me. Put him in a body bag, Johnny! Oops, wrong one. Anyway. This film lands at number six on the list and marks Cruise’s emergence as a blockbuster star. Heck, he did Top Gun in a race car a few years later and it was still a hit. Now if you don’t mind, I’m going to pour out a little from my 40 oz. for Goose.

5. Magnolia (1999)

Recap: Several people have loose connections in the San Fernando Valley trying to find happiness.
Reason: Motivational speaker Frank T.J. Mackey (Cruise) is just one reason this film is amazing. Aimee Mann’s music is another. If you don’t love this depressing and eventually uplifting L.A. story then it probably has something to do with you feeling sorry for frogs. The cinematic year of 1999 is the favorite of my lifetime. Besides being blown away by the power of Magnolia, films like Fight Club and Matrix also came out. Paul Thomas Anderson blew me away with the likes of Julianne Moore, John C. Reilly and William H. Macy. It’s also one of those films that hit me on such a personal emotional level, at the perfect time.

4. Rain Man (1988)

Recap: Charlie Babbitt (Cruise) goes to get his autistic savant brother Raymond Babbit (Dustin Hoffman). He’s after him for the money his father left Raymond, but then he realizes there’s more of a connection on a road trip.
Reason: In the first viewing, you’re blown away by Hoffman. In the repeat viewings, you realize how much heavy lifting Cruise did to carry this film. Yes, it’s almost as quotable as Top Gun, but the fluff is kept at a minimum. I remember seeing this film when I was right around 13 years old. I felt like an adult, like I was responsible enough, just like Charlie eventually becomes during this journey.

3. The Color of Money (1986)

Recap: A sequel to the classic The Hustler puts Fast Eddie Felson (Paul Newman) back in front of the pool table, and now he’s training a young hot shot (Tom Cruise).
Reason: Who has the balls to make a sequel 25 years after the absolutely amazing original? Martin Scorsese, that’s who. Cruise is up for being cocky, and let’s just say Paul Newman and his mustache never looked better. The feel of this movie probably sent more teenagers into the seedy pool halls more than the dysfunction of their home lives. When this movie ends, I am desperately thirsty for more. Maybe when Cruise is an old man, he can pass the torch. Dear lord, 25 years would be … 2011. Let’s get on it!

2. Jerry Maguire (1996)

Recap: Sports agent Jerry Maguire (Cruise) gets canned after he expresses his doubt for what they do at his agency. He then takes his one client (Cuba Gooding Jr.) and an assistant (Renee Zellwegger) to make a go of it.
Reason: Cameron Crowe adds his name to the directors who have gotten the most out of Tom Cruise. There’s a lot to love out of this performance. The first time I saw it, I decided to fall in love with the wrong girl. Yes, I blame sitting next to her in this movie (partially). It’s cute (the kid), it’s funny (anything with Rod and Jerry), it’s emotional (Rod talking to his wife on the phone), and in 1996, “You complete me” was insanely romantic.

1. A Few Good Men (1992)

Recap: A Navy lawyer (Cruise) has never seen the inside of a court room. But that’s where he ends up, defending two Guantanamo Bay soldiers accused of a crime that they say they were commanded to commit.
Reason: Hang on. A Few Good Men is currently on AMC. I’ll be back in two and a half hours … OK, I’m back. I don’t own this movie, and I think it’s mainly due to how happy I get every single time it’s on cable. And it’s on cable all the time. Rod Reiner’s political military drama thriller is most remembered for Jack Nicholson chewing the hell out of every single line. Those lines were created by Aaron Sorkin (who also wrote the play) back in the day when Sorkin was new and fresh. It’s smart. It’s tense. It gets a great performance from one of the best “that guys” ever in J.T. Walsh. Demi Moore and Tom Cruise go back and forth without resorting to sex. And best of all, Kevin Pollak is still getting residual checks for this one. That’s something we can all feel good about.

There’s the Top 7, now what should be in the Top 10?


  1. Jeff Bayer says:

    I can’t stop. Here’s the rest of my Top 10 …

    8. Valkyrie
    9. Risky Business
    10. Minority Report

  2. I hafta give love to Collateral. I was really impressed with bad guy Tom Cruise. Also, no matter how much people may hate on it, I would say Vanilla Sky is definitely one of my top ten.

  3. Ian says:

    A top 3 without Top Gun is sacrilegious! I’d also push for Risky Business over MI:3. The original MI with all the crazy face masks was way better. Collateral and Minority Report would round out my picks. Its kind of surprising he hasn’t made more movies when you look at his career.

  4. Oh yeah, and for my third, I’ll go with Interview with the Vampire. It’s been a while since I’ve seen it, but it’s always stuck with me. I think it might have been my first R rated movie even…

  5. Joey says:

    Eyes Wide Shut!!! Also, Minority Report and Collateral belong.

  6. Dave says:

    In no particular order I would probably tack on:
    Risky Business

    If you ever do a top 7 cameos (assuming you haven’t already) then I might include Tom Cruise’s role in Tropic Thunder

  7. floyd says:

    Gotta love Tom Cruise for his ability to make any good movie look campy!
    So I am waiting fro Cruise to learn a new expression. IN his version of “Mars Attack” his facial moves counted 3.
    Sure I love Top Gun, Cocktail & Risky Business in its day. But shoving a name in a movie to sell tickets is just business.
    And I am sorry Cameron Diaz wasn’t paired with an actor instead of a moving monument.
    That Cary Grant comment must have Cary rolling over in his grave.
    At least Hollywood has limited Cruise to to the small number of mostly good pictures that make tiny “hero” big on screen
    And those ridiculously unbelievable scenes in the MI movies brings down the status of the the TV series.

  8. morrow says:

    Personally, I would have put Magnolia as his number one. He blew me away in that movie and I thought he should’ve taken home the Oscar instead of Michael Caine.

  9. Megan says:

    What about Born on the Fourth of July? No love? I agree, I love Collateral. Anyone else think Cruise is best when he plays a man lacking a soul?

  10. Tom says:

    Born on the Fourth of July, Collateral, and Tropic Thunder

  11. Nick Allen says:

    I think I would have put “Tropic Thunder” in the Top 7, in large part because it seems to be helping Tom Cruise’s cool-factor with the young audience (which is also the heaviest movie-going demographic). I’d also put “Collateral” in the Top 10, maybe around #8. I like Cruise in “Valkyrie,” but I don’t think it’s one of his top 10. Maybe even Top 11. “Magnolia” should be at #3, or possibly even #2. And maybe there should be a special place at #9 for Cruise’s overlooked fantasy movie “Legend”?

  12. Raj says:

    How the hell can one forget ‘The Last Samurai’??????????????????/

    his best performance ….

  13. Jack says:

    Tom Cruise is a good actor and makes good movies 🙂 I have to say I love the guy 🙂 Heres de rest of the top 10 in my opinion.

    10: Mission Impossible

    9. Collateral

    8. Vanilla Sky

  14. Matt Hales says:

    8. The Last Samarai

    9. Collateral

    10. Minority Report

  15. gabriel says:

    man this guy rocks. i was always impressed with his choice of roles and i am thankful because without him many great movies would have never been made. for me he is up there with de niro, pacino, nicholson and bogart.great talent, the fact that he doesn’t already won an oscar makes me hope that his best is yet to come, or, in the words of jack nicholson, we “ain’t seen nothing yet”
    ride on, maverick

  16. Darryn says:

    Days of Thunder!

  17. jacque says:

    Since I have not seen quite a few of your movies I will be looking forward to snuggling up on the couch with some dvds and popcorn. Best Wishes for future films.

  18. Jason F says:

    8. The Last Samurai (#1 in my opinion)
    9. Born on the Fourth of July
    10. Knight & Day – I thought he played the character to perfection.

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