For an actor to have continued success over four decades is incredibly rare, and is something to be revered. Over the course of his illustrious career, Tom Cruise has been able to churn out one massive hit movie after another, and he’s one of the most successful actors to have ever graced the big screen. His success is both a testament to his talent, and to his hard work paying off. With the recent release of Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, Cruise has starred in yet another film to gross over 100 million dollars. With two films slated for release in 2017, fans will be treated to the next series of Cruise hits.
With any amount of success comes bumps in the road, and that’s not a bad thing. For the most part, Cruise has been the star of a huge number of excellent movies. Whittling down fifteen to include on this list was quite the task, as Cruise has very few movies that I haven’t enjoyed. That being said, I was able to dive into his catalogue, and sift through his hits to pluck out a few of my favorites.
Some of the movies on the list are some that you love, some that you may be on the fence about, and some that will have you grabbing your pitchforks and calling for my head on a silver platter. Did that stop me from putting it together? Not a chance. So, without further ado, here is our list of “15 Tom Cruise Movies That Actually Don’t Suck.”
15. The Outsiders (1983)
Back before he was one of the biggest and most recognizable movie stars on the planet, Tom Cruise was a just a young actor paving his way through smaller roles in Hollywood. In 1983, Cruise would find himself along a slew of Hollywood talent on the cusp of superstardom in The Outsiders. Directed by Francis Ford Coppola (who also directed a little movie called The Godfather), The Outsiders would become one of the best movies in Cruise’s expansive repertoire.
Despite having a much smaller role in the movie as opposed to that of Patrick Swayze or Rob Lowe, Cruise was able to utilize his talents to have a few standout moments in the film, notably his back-flip off of a curbside car. Who would have thought that the young man who did a back-flip in The Outsiders would go on to arguably become the biggest actor to have appeared in the film.
14. Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011)
2011 proved to be a good year for Tom Cruise as the fourth entry into the storied Mission: Impossible would make an enormous amount of money at the December box office. The latest instalment in the franchise grossed over 690 million dollars, and solidified Tom Cruise as a bona fide action star that was capable of having a decades-spanning career.
Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol was an absolute thrill-ride of a film from start to finish, and was the best reviewed movie of the entire series. The all-star cast that was comprised of Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, and Simon Pegg was phenomenal, and those actors worked incredible well together. Comparatively speaking, I enjoyed this movie more so than I did the previous two, but, nothing tops the first Mission: Impossible for me, and I have a sneaking suspicion that we may see that film a little bit later on our list.
13. Magnolia (1999)
Throughout his career, Tom Cruise has had an innate ability to make a fortune at the box office. This, however, would not be the case for 1999’s Magnolia, which seemed to have a rough go of things, especially when compared to a number of Cruise’s previous films. The film managed to grab a modest 48 million dollars at the box office, but, financial success does not determine the quality of a film (I’m looking at you Pearl Harbor).
Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson of Boogie Nights fame, Magnolia was critically praised, and worked as a showcase for Cruise’s talent, which also garnered rave reviews. For his portrayal of Frank Mackey, Tom Cruise was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, and pulled down a Golden Globe win for the role. It’s a solid film that certainly deserved to earn a bit more money than it did back in 1999.
12. War of the Worlds (2005)
With director Steven Spielberg at the helm, 2005’s War of the Worlds was primed to take the box office by storm. Led by solid performances from Tom Cruise and Dakota Fanning, the summer blockbuster smashed its competition, and would go on to rake in a staggering 591 million dollars at the box office. Based off of the H.G. Wells novel, War of the Worlds was action-packed, entertaining, and very well done. The pairing of Spielberg and Cruise was fantastic.
The effects that were utilized in the film were excellent, and really helped bring the viewer in. If you’re interested in getting a close look at how the movie was made, head over to Universal Studios in Hollywood and take their back-lot tour. You get to see a destroyed plane that was used in the movie, and get up close and personal with what the actors had to work with. I got to experience this earlier this year in May, and it was worth it. It will give you an entirely new appreciation for the acting work in the film.
11. Minority Report (2002)
Once again, the pairing of Steven Spielberg and Tom Cruise would catalyze a film to make a huge sum of money, and to be enjoyable at the same time. In 2002, the duo gifted us the movie Minority Report, and it made the summer that year exponentially better than it was before. The movie garnered its share of critical acclaim, and hauled in over 350 million dollars at the box office.
I had the pleasure of seeing this movie in theaters, and I loved it from start to finish. The premise of being punished for pre-determined crimes was superb, and Tom Cruise was more than capable of delivering a fantastic performance, and the performance of Colin Farrell was excellent as well. The futuristic film had a sleek and edgy style to it, and was a visual treat for those in attendance. Something tells me that Steven Spielberg and Tom Cruise should keep making movies together, as they seem to be an excellent pair.
10. Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
Looking back at this film now, it’s crazy to see the chemistry between Tom Cruise and his now ex-wife Nicole Kidman. The two were no strangers to working together, and they once again teamed up to make a fantastic film. Directed by film legend Stanley Kubrick, Eyes Wide Shut found its place with other odd and off-beat films in Kubrick’s canon, and was the final film that the legend directed before he passed in 1999.
While some critics maintained that the film seemed a bit slow and had some pacing issues, I enjoyed the film in all of its weirdness. Based on the 1926 novel Dream Story, Kubrick was certainly one of the few directors in Hollywood with the artistic prowess to pull it off successfully. The film was a financial success, making 162 million dollars at the box office, and holds its weight in quality among Cruise’s other films.
9. Collateral (2004)
Boy, oh boy, this movie was absolutely fantastic. Loaded with an all-star cast that boasted the likes of Tom Cruise, Jamie Foxx, Jada Pinkett-Smith, and Mark Ruffalo, 2004’s Collateral was a film that was poised for massive success. Written by Stuart Beattie and directed by Michael Mann, Collateral is a fantastic crime thriller that wowed audiences, and grossed over 217 million dollars.
The acting in the movie is superb, not just from Cruise, but also from the supporting cast. For his work in Collateral, Jamie Foxx would find himself nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, but ultimately lost out to Morgan Freeman for his role in Million Dollar Baby. Critics seemed to love the film, and Collateral found itself on many best-of lists that year. From top to bottom, this was a movie that had far too much talent to fail, and, under the direction of Michael Mann, was steered in the right direction, and was incredibly well done.
8. Born on the Fourth of July (1989)
Fresh off of the critically acclaimed film Rain Man with Dustin Hoffman, Tom Cruise was in the driver’s seat for yet another box office hit. Released in 1989, Born on the Fourth of July showcased the horrors of returning home from war, and Cruise’s performance of Ron Kovic was brilliant. Directed by Oliver Stone (who also happens to be a Vietnam veteran himself), Born on the Fourth of July is heartbreaking, and Stone’s experience with war gave the film a genuine feel.
The film was critically praised, and, despite its small budget, would make a whopping 161 million dollars. The movie would be nominated for a total of eight Academy Awards including Best Director for Oliver Stone (which he won), and Best Actor for Tom Cruise (which he lost to Daniel Day-Lewis). Cruise has portrayed military characters in several films, and, in my opinion, does a great job in those roles.
7. Interview With the Vampire (1994)
This movie is a shining example of perfect casting, despite what the masses wanting something different. In 1994, Interview with the Vampire hit theaters, and those who doubted the casting of Tom Cruise as Lestat were quickly silenced, as the actor delivered one of the best performances of his career. Based off of the Anne Rice novel of the same name, Interview with the Vampire saw the pairing of Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt executed brilliantly to much critical praise, and to massive box office success.
It’s crazy to think that the casting of Cruise as Lestat was met with resistance. Cruise had already established himself as a viable star and talented actor. Then again, the casting of Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight also had its fair share of sceptics. Thankfully, he remained in the role, and absolutely nailed it. With a remake in the works, it will be interesting to see who they will find to fill the large shoes of Cruise.
6. Risky Business (1983)
This, my friends, is the film that started it all for Tom Cruise. Having already appeared in The Outsiders that same year, Risky Business would be the first film to find box office success with Cruise as its leading actor. Set in suburban Chicago, this shenanigan-filled romp would prove to be one of the best high school movies in a decade that also housed the likes of The Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles. Sounds crazy, but, then again, those movies didn’t have a high school kid turn his house into a brothel to make some cash. That’s one hell of a way to stand out.
After grossing 63 million dollars, Cruise’s star began to glow, and he became a household name. The film had many quotable lines, and the scene of Cruise dancing in his underwear to Bob Seger remains one of the more famous scenes in cinema history. Cruise’s career would hit a snag in 1985 with the release of the ill-fated Legend, but would pick itself up in 1986.
5. Mission: Impossible (1996)
1996 was a huge year for Tom Cruise. Not only did the dawn of the Mission: Impossible franchise set the world ablaze, but, Cruise would double-dip in smash hits that year with the release of Jerry Maguire. In regards to the former, Cruise was only two years removed from Interview with the Vampire, and knew that he needed to keep his box office momentum going. That May, Cruise would drop Mission: Impossible, and he would continue his reign as a box office star.
Directed by Brian De Palma, 1996’s Mission: Impossible had it all. Cruise was perfect for the role of Ethan Hunt, and the supporting cast was equally impressive in their performances. The film received many positive reviews from critics, and made over 450 million dollars which was no small feat in the 1990s. As I mentioned earlier in this article, despite the acclaim that the most recent entries have received, the first entry in the franchise remains my favorite to this day.
4. Rain Man (1988)
The 1980’s were the first decade to give us Tom Cruise movies, and helped shape a career that has been one of the most financially successful careers that any actor has ever had. 1988 was one of the biggest years in that decade for Cruise who found massive success with both Cocktail and Rain Man. Though Cruise may have not received as much acclaim as Dustin Hoffman for his acting in the film, he was able to deliver a great performance, and he and Hoffman made quite the tandem.
Rain Man would end up being one of the best films of the 1980’s, and it received an incredible amount of awards nominations, and even won four Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor (for Dustin Hoffman), and Best Director (for Barry Levinson). Tack on 354 million dollars at the box office, and you have yourself a bona fide classic, and easily one of the best movies to feature the talents of Tom Cruise.
3. Top Gun
One of the seminal movies of the 1980’s, Top Gun took the world by storm in 1986, and took our breath away (pun fully intended). Centered on the story of Navy fighter pilots in training, Top Gun was a movie that was had great acting, great stunt work, and a soundtrack that still has people singing along 30 years later. As a Navy veteran, I must admit that this film is a guilty pleasure of mine.
Cruise is absolutely perfect as “Maverick”, and a very flat-topped Val Kilmer is equally impressive as “Iceman”. The film gave an entire generation the urge to fly, and to find themselves their very own “Goose”. Granted, the Navy is nothing like it’s portrayed to be in the film, what with every single sailor being buff and oiled to play some volleyball. However, it’s an absolute blast to watch, and will have you clamoring to dive straight into the danger zone. I’ll see myself out now.
2. A Few Good Men
Rob Reiner has made some stellar films over the course of his career, and his directing of A Few Good Men is incredible. Starring a star-studded cast that includes Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson, Kevin Bacon, Kiefer Sutherland, and Demi Moore, A Few Good Men is yet another movie that finds Tom Cruise portraying a military character in Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee. With such a prolific cast, it’s hard to imagine any one actor standing out; yet, Cruise is able to make it happen.
The film received much acclaim from critics, with the acting being a huge point of praise. With 243 dollars in revenue at the box office, A Few Good Men would become another smash hit for Tom Cruise, and would help him launch a massively successful decade. One year later, Cruise would dominate the box office again with The Firm which is also a fantastic movie, and he would continue to steamroll right through the 1990’s and into the 2000’s.
1. Jerry Maguire
The number one movie on our list may be Cruise’s most recognizable role to date, and had audiences rushing to theaters everywhere to help Cruise help himself to a smash hit at the box office. As I mentioned earlier, 1996 was Tom Cruise’s year. Directed by Cameron Crowe, Jerry Maguire is one of the best movies of the 1990’s and is one of Cruise’s most critically acclaimed films.
Jerry Maguire saw Cruise net an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor, and was also nominated for Best Picture. Cruise, along with Cuba Gooding Jr (who won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor), Renee Zellweger, and Regina King would deliver stellar performances. The movies had cameos galore (which as a massive sports fan, I loved), and went on to make over 273 million dollars. With all of the success that he has had, I cannot wait for more Tom Cruise movies to hit theaters, as he is truly talented at his craft.