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These Are the Best Tom Cruise Movies, Ranked

Undeniably one of Hollywood’s most lucrative and impressive talents, Tom Cruise’s cinema career has spanned 40 years and garnered numerous accolades and achievements. Since his breakthrough role in the classic 1983 comedy Risky Business, the star has taken Tinsel Town by storm and has served up iconic and endless noteworthy performances. Cruise has branched out and added ‘esteemed producer’ to his many talents, further immersing himself in show business by producing his hit Mission: Impossible franchise along with titles like The Others, Vanilla Sky, Elizabethtown, and Jack Reacher.

Cruise’s films have grossed over $10.1 billion worldwide at the box office, and he has won three Golden Globe Awards and been the recipient of three Academy Award nominations. Despite his personal life coming under fire due to his controversial ties to the Church of Scientology, Tom Cruise’s star power hasn’t dimmed, and he continues to produce and headline massive movies. His next project will be the highly-anticipated Top Gun sequel Top Gun: Maverick, which will reunite him with co-star Val Kilmer. With such a colorful and dynamic acting resume, and as difficult as it may seem to narrow them down, here are the best Tom Cruise movies nonetheless.

9 Born on the Fourth of July


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Universal Pictures

Based on the Ron Kovic autobiography, 1989’s anti-war film Born on the Fourth of July is directed by Hollywood great Oliver Stone and stars a talented cast like Tom Cruise, Kyra Sedgwick, and Willem Dafoe. It chronicles the life of Kovic over a 20-year period, from his childhood to being paralyzed during the Vietnam War, leading up to his transition into anti-war activism. Cruise delivers a heavy-hearted performance as the war vet, and spent a year preparing for the role by visiting veterans’ hospitals, studying the Vietnam War, and practicing using a wheelchair. Born on the Fourth of July was a critical and commercial hit, with both Cruise and Stone garnering immense praise. The star won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor while Stone won the Academy Award for Best Director.


8 The Outsiders


The Outsiders Shoot Had Tom Cruise and Rob Lowe Sleeping in a Stranger's Basement
Warner Bros.

Esteemed director Francis Ford Coppola directed the 1983 coming-of-age drama The Outsiders, following the rivalry between two gangs in the 1960s: the poor Greasers and the wealthy Socs. Their battle intensifies when one member of the gang kills another of the opposing, resulting in an all-out war. Based on the S.E. Hinton novel, The Outsiders stars some of the Brat Pack’s finest, including C. Thomas Howell, Rob Lowe, Ralph Macchio, Emilio Estevez and Tom Cruise. The film received acclaim for its performances and has earned a cult following over the years. The drama was also praised for its realistic portrayal of poor teenagers, with casting directors Jane Jenkins and Janet Hirshenson writing, “This movie was one of the few Hollywood offerings to deal realistically with kids from the wrong side of the tracks, and to portray honestly children whose parents had abused, neglected, or otherwise failed them.”


7 A Few Good Men


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Columbia Pictures

Hollywood heavy hitters Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson and Demi Moore joined forces for the 1992 legal drama A Few Good Men, depicting military lawyer Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee as he defends Marines accused of murder who claim they were acting under orders. Cruise memorably stars as Kaffee alongside Nicholson’s portrayal of Colonel Nathan R. Jessup, with the pair famously battling it out in an epic courtroom confrontation. Directed by the prominent Rob Reiner, the blockbuster garnered rave reviews upon its release for its direction, acting and screenwriting. Time magazine called the drama “an extraordinarily well-made movie, which wastes no words or image in telling a conventional but compelling story.” Both Cruise and Nicholson’s performances for the at-odds officers earned recognition, with the latter receiving an Academy Award nomination.


6 Risky Business


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Warner Bros.

Considered one of the best films of 1983, Tom Cruise’s breakout role was as Joel Goodson in the teen sex comedy Risky Business. The classic follows a Chicago teenager looking for a good time at home while his parents are away, resulting in a wild and risky situation. For the coveted role, Cruise beat out gifted fellow actors like Sean Penn, Kevin Bacon and Tom Hanks, and would go on to achieve international success and recognition for his performance. The iconic scene featuring Cruise’s character sliding across the floor in his white briefs, pink shirt and socks while dancing to Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock and Roll” is one of the most famous in cinema history, and has been parodied and recreated countless times. The star-making film helped Cruise’s career skyrocket and led to numerous big name pictures for the actor in the ‘80s and beyond.

Related: Movies From the 80s That We Couldn’t Live Without

5 Minority Report


Minority Report

Hollywood legend Steven Spielberg’s 2002 science fiction extravaganza Minority Report takes place in a future where a special police unit is able to arrest murderers before they commit their crimes. Cruise headlines the film as commanding officer Chief John Anderton, a member of the unit who finds himself accused of a future murder. Co-starring Colin Farrell, Samantha Morton and Max von Sydow, the sci-fi flick combines elements of tech noir, whodunit mystery, and thriller resulting in a fantastic and engrossing cinematic treasure. Upon its release, Minority Report went on to become one of the best-reviewed films of 2002 and earned over $350 million at the box office. Both Cruise’s performance and Spielberg’s stunning direction garnered widespread praise, with famed critic Roger Ebert calling Minority Report a “masterpiece” and named it the best film of the year.

Related: 16 Best Sci-Fi Movies of All Time, Ranked

4 Top Gun


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Paramount Pictures

Tom Cruise’s status as bona fide superstar became cemented with the release of the classic 1986 action drama Top Gun, in which he famously portrayed the young pilot and Lieutenant Pete “Maverick” Mitchell. Featuring a stacked cast including Val Kilmer, Kelly McGillis, and Anthony Edwards, the beloved film centers on a group of determined students in the U.S. Navy’s elite fighter weapons school as they duke it out to be top of the class. Despite an initial mixed reaction by critics, Top Gun was a massive commercial hit and received compliments for its action sequences, aerial stunts, and commanding performances. In 2015, the film was selected by the United States Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry. A sequel, titled Top Gun: Maverick is scheduled for release this year with Cruise and Kilmer returning to their star-making roles.


3 Rain Man


Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise play poker in a casino in Rain Man
MGM/UA Communications Co.

1988’s road drama Rain Man tells the tale of a brash and conceited wheeler-dealer who, upon his wealthy father’s death, is shocked to discover the inheritance has been left to his unknown autistic savant brother. Acting greats Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman team up for the endearing drama, in which they portray Charlie and Raymond Babbitt as they embark upon a cross-country road trip. Rain Man premiered at the 39th Berlin International Film Festival to rave reviews, winning the highly coveted Golden Bear, the festival’s highest prize. The picture also went on to win four Academy Awards, including Best Picture, becoming the first and only film thus far to nab both the Golden Bear and Academy Award for Best Picture. Critic Gene Siskel singled out Cruise’s portrayal, proclaiming, “The strength of the film is really that of Cruise’s performance […] the combination of two superior performances makes the movie worth watching.”


2 Jerry Maguire


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Sony Pictures Releasing

Mastermind Cameron Crowe directed the critically acclaimed and beloved sports film Jerry Maguire, drawing inspiration from famed sports agent and technical consultant Leigh Steinberg. The romantic dramedy focuses on sports agent Jerry Maguire (Tom Cruise), who experiences a moral epiphany and decides to test his new philosophy as an independent agent. Cuba Gooding Jr., Renée Zellweger, and Regina King round out the all-star cast, serving up powerful performances for which Gooding Jr. would ultimately win the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Cruise dazzled as the titular lead, iconically shouting the classic line “Show me the money” alongside Cuba Gooding Jr. in an unforgettable cinematic moment. For his role, Cruise would go on to win a Golden Globe and Satellite Award for Best Actor. Jerry Maguire is one of the best sports films of all time and further proved Cruise’s status as a Hollywood great.


1 Mission: Impossible


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Paramount Pictures

Tom Cruise has found profound success over his lucrative cinema career, starring in a wide array of genres and roles that continuously established his star power. Though he can truly do it all, the actor is without a doubt the king of action. Cruise is thrilling and exciting in every action film he stars in (for which he typically does his own stunts), but none more so than the epic spy blockbuster Mission: Impossible. The 1996 hit follows Cruise as Ethan Hunt, an American agent who undergoes a mission to discover “the mole” that has framed him for the murders of his fellow agents. Jon Voight, Ving Rhames, and Vanessa Redgrave co-star in the lucrative flick, which went on to gross over $450 million. The success of the film went on to spawn a highly-prosperous franchise which continues today, with a new installment set to premier this year; the series has amassed a whopping $3.5 billion and has accumulated a devoted fanbase of audiences around the world. Mission: Impossible truly cemented Cruise’s future status as an action star and powerhouse box-office draw.


Mission: Impossible 5 Video: Tom Cruise Performs Rooftop Stunt
Here’s Every Mission: Impossible Movie, Ranked

Tom Cruise has been taking down bad guys for years in the Mission: Impossible franchise. Let’s take a look at where each film in the franchise ranks.

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