The Best Damn Runner In Hollywood: The Definitive Ranking of Tom Cruise Films

| July 31, 2015

tomcrunningTom Cruise. He makes some of the best movies in Hollywood. I have always liked Mr. Cruise and now after watching all of his films I can say that he along with Robert Downey Jr. are my favorite actors. The one thing that sets Tom Cruise apart from almost every other actor is how hard he works in his films. He might be the most committed actor of all time. Cruise can do non stop action and also own a scene dramatically. I have always said “Tom Cruise doesn’t make a bad film.” And now I can definitively that none of his films are bad. So for your reading pleasure I have ranked all 36 Tom Cruise films from just ok to the best. So strap on your Nike’s and try to keep up with Tom Cruise.

39. Endless Love (1981)

endlessTom Cruise’s first film is also not his best. You can’t really blame Cruise as he has a small part of Billy. The reason this film isn’t that great is the schmaltzy love story. It’s a tale of forbidden love between high school girl and her parents disapproval. It did get nominated for Best Original Song however, so there’s that.

38. Losin’ It (1983)

losinitLosin’ It follows three friends as they travel to Tijuana to lose their virginity. Cruise plays Woody and is mostly regulated to co-star, this is really Jackie Eare Haley’s film and it’s just ok. Most of the jokes don’t land but everyone involved is having fun. Cruise would make a much better sex comedy in 1983, that was funnier and sexier.

37. Rock of Ages (2012)


This is a tough film to rank in a list of the best Tom Cruise movies. The film itself isn’t that good because the leads are pretty boring and too sweet. Tom Cruise however is amazing as Rock God Stacee Jaxx. Every scene he’s in he absolutely crushes. He handles all the singing with ease the highlight is his duet with Malin Akerman on the song, “I Want To Know What Love Is”.

36. Knight and Day (2010)


Knight and Day is another film that can’t soar to the heights of other Cruise films, it is a fun but flawed film. Cruise plays Roy Miller a disgraced spy who tries to clear his name and Cameron Diaz gets in his way. Cruise is having fun too bad Diaz is like a soggy towel in this film. Cool action and witty humor keep this from being a complete miss.

35. Cocktail (1988)


As is the case with most of Cruise’s less successful films it isn’t the stars fault. Cruise is having a blast playing cocky bartender Brian Flanagan, who under the guidance of his Aussie mentor Doug becomes one of the hottest bartenders in town. The movie has some truly fun bar scenes and the music is fun throughout, the biggest drawback is the melodramatic script. Cocktail is still fun to pop in every now and then and just relax.

34. Legend (1985)


Legend is never sure what it wants to be. Is it a kids film? A dark fantasy? Gothic horror? The short answer is all of them and that might be the films biggest problem. It can never settle on one so it creates movie whiplash. The film is shot beautifully and it is fun. The Blu-Ray comes with two cuts of the film so you can decide how early you want to see Tim Curry’s Darkness. Beautiful to look at just confused on what it wants to be.

33. Far And Away(1992)


Far And Away is an epic movie that follows Joesph Donnelly an Irish immigrant who leaves Ireland to find wealth and land in Oklahoma. Directed by Ron Howard, the film is epic but at times the story is a little silly. The boxing scenes are lots of fun, the highlight is the land grab at the end of the film. The fluff in between is just ok, but Cruise and Kidman have cute chemistry that keeps the film from being boring.

32. All The Right Moves (1983)


Stefen Djordjevic is an all star cornerback for his high school football team. He wants to get a scholarship to a college so he can get out of his Pennsylvania steel town. Cruise is solid as a kid who wants to get out of town but is held back by a jealous head football coach played great by Craig T.Nelson. A little heavy handed keeps All The Right Moves from being great. Early in his career Cruise proved he had the physical and dramatic chops to carry movies.

31. Lions For Lambs (2007)


Three stories that seem random slowly come together to form a single thread in this political thriller. Cruise is hotshot GOP Senator Jasper Irving who has an idea to change the war in Afghanistan. Cruise shares his scenes with Meryl Streep and both actors are great. All the actors are great and deliver the dialogue with conviction but it drags when it tries to be too smart about it’s political message.

30. Taps (1981)


When their military school is threatened to be closed to make way for condos, the boys go to extreme measures to keep it open. Timothy Hutton stars as Cadet Major Brian Moreland who inspires his men to occupy the school until they get what they want. Cruise is Cadet Captain David Shawn who is a little intense and unhinged. Taps is anchored by great performances by an all star cast, what keeps it from a classic is the plot is a little silly. The film however is good and moves quickly just ignore the goofy parts.

29. The Outsiders (1983)


The rich kids vs. The poor kids. It’s a tale that is told time and time again. The Outsiders might have the greatest assembly of young talent ever, just look at the poster. The rivalry between the Greasers and the Socs gets out of control when Greaser Johnny(Ralph Macchio) kills one of the Socs when they were beating up Ponyboy(C. Thomas Howell). They go on the run and eventually make it back home where the Socs’ are waiting for them. Cruise plays Greaser Steve and isn’t given much to do. The film itself is well made but is a little hokey but is saved by all the incredible talent in front of and behind the camera.

28. Days of Thunder (1990)


Tom Cruise reunites with Tony Scott to do for NASCAR what they did for fighter pilots. Days of Thunder is kinda cheesy but in the totally rad way. Cruise is Cole Trickle a hotshot racer who suffers a horrific crash and with the help of his sexy doctor Claire(Nicole Kidman) finds the strength to race again. Awesome race scenes highlight the film and Scott’s direction and camera put you in the races.

27. Mission: Impossible II (2000)


Ethan Hunt is back this time chasing a former IMF agent who has a deadly virus named “Chimera”. Cruise’s second outing in Mission: Impossible is just as thrilling as the first with insane stunts and signature set pieces by director John Woo. It doesn’t quite live up to the twisty spy stuff of the first film but as an action film it is a winner.

26. Eyes Wide Shut (1999)


Stanley Kubrick’s last film is a twist filled erotic thriller. Cruise is Dr. William Hartford, who after learning that his loving wife almost cheated on him finds a way into a rich and dangerous sex masquerade party. What seems real isn’t as Kubrick weaves an elaborate tale of sex, trust, and love. Great performances and haunting cinematography make this an unforgettable experience.

25. Oblivion (2013)


In the future after a war with an alien race the Earth is dying. Jack is tasked with extracting Earth’s last resources and when he is done he is to join the rest of humanity on Saturn’s moon Titan. Jack slowly starts having recollections of a past life and maybe everything is not what it seems. A visually stunning film that is part Sci-Fi action and part mystery with a great performance by Cruise, I enjoyed this film more after repeated viewings.

24. Interview With The Vampire(1994)


Sexy and violent, Interview With The Vampire is a big departure for Cruise and he is mesmerizing as the evil vampire Lestat. In the film Louis(Brad Pitt)  a 200 year old vampire tells his story of love, heartbreak and horror to an eager reporter(Christian Slater). The film is well shot and for the most part wonderfully acted (Kirsten Dunst in particular is amazing as Claudia, a little girl who Louis turns into a vampire). Anne Rice the author of the book was publicly against Tom Cruise playing Lestat, after seeing the film and Cruise’s performance she issued a full page apology to Cruise. That’s how impressive he is in this movie.

23. The Firm (1993)


Mitch is a young and ambitious lawyer. When he gets hired at a prestigious law firm in Memphis. He soon learns that The Firm has a dark side and he risks everything to expose them. Cruise is in the zone playing a cocky lawyer caught in a web of lies and power. Plus he runs like a champ chasing down his wife in the middle of the night. All the actors are on top of their game making this one hell of a thriller.

22. Valkyrie (2008)


The incredible true story of a failed assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler is told in this thriller from Bryan Singer. Cruise is Claus Von Stauffenberg a Colonel in the German Army who is becoming disenchanted with the war. When he is critically injured in Africa he along with several other German officers devise a plan to kill Hitler. Valkyrie is a suspenseful well made historical drama. The story is almost too unbelievable to be true which makes it that much more entertaining. Huge thumbs up to Singer who crafts a story that you know what happens and how it’s going to end but hope through movie magic it turns out different.

21. Mission: Impossible(1996)


Ethan Hunt is a disgraced IMF agent. He goes on a mission to discover and expose the true spy with the help of friends. Who knew that 20 years later we would see the 5th Mission: Impossible film? What’s unique about the series is each filmmaker is allowed to bring their style and sensibilities to each entry. The first film directed by Brian De Palma(Scarface, The Untouchables) is a mind bend of who’s who. The action pieces are now iconic and the surprise reveal at the end divides fans. All that doesn’t take away from one of the signature action films of the 90’s.

20. Jack Reacher(2012)


A horrific murder of innocent people by a sniper is the scary and intense opening to this well made bad ass action thriller. Cruise is Jack Reacher, a homicide investigator, who gets involved in the murder case when he asked to come there by the accused, a military trained sniper. The plot thickens and the movie continues to crank out memorable action scene after the next. All of it held together by Tom Cruise’s no nonsense Reacher. The car chase is one of the coolest you will see.

19. Mission: Impossible III(2006)


Ethan Hunt seems to have retreated into a happy life. He has a loving girlfriend and a home in the suburbs. But when he goes on a mission to rescue a fellow agent that ends in her death, he is pulled into the world of a sadistic arms dealer. This could be the best opening to a film ever, with Tom Cruise delivering one hell of a performance. J.J. Abrams brings his ability to tell a tight, well paced film, with twists and great character beats. Phillip Seymour Hoffman is a scene stealer as Owen Davian who toys with Ethan throughout the film.

17. Vanilla Sky(2001)


David Ames is a sexy, arrogant magazine publisher who has everything he could want. He is seeing the beautiful Julie Gianni but unwilling to commit to her. At his birthday party he meets the fun and sexy Sofia and falls for her immediately. After staying the night with Sofia, Julie confronts David outside her apartment, what happens next turns David’s life upside down. Watching this recently gave me a new appreciation for Cameron Crowe’s erotic, mind melt. What’s real? What’s a dream? You will be asking that as David slips further into insanity. Cruise again is on the top of his game, he has a lot little character beats that are genius.

16. War of the Worlds(2005)


Aliens invade Earth and a father fights to survive and protect his family. Tom Cruise teams up for the second time with Steven Spielberg for a tense, scary sci-fi thriller. Besides the summer spectacle of the aliens destroying cities, the heart of the story is Cruises’ Ray who not only fights to save his children but also fights to earn their love. Amazing special effects and great performances make this a summer blockbuster winner.

15. The Last Samurai(2003)


A cynical veteran of the Civil War, Nathan Algren is hired to teach the Japanese to use modern weapons and crush a rogue samurai. After being defeated in battle by the samurai, Algren soon learns to respect their way of life and chooses to fight with them rather then against. Epic battles and note worthy performances(Ken Watanabe as Katsumoto was nominated for an Oscar) strike all the right chords. Beautifully shot with and the right amount of epicness in the score make this a rousing historical drama.

14. The Color of Money(1986)


A sequel to The Hustler, Fast Eddie takes young Vincent Lauria under his tutelage on how to hustle money playing pool. Directed by Martin Scorsese, The Color of Money succeeds on almost all levels. Great acting, solid camera work, and tense pool scenes make this a winner. The ending punches you in the gut and stays with you after you turn it off.

13. Tropic Thunder(2008)


A hilarious send up to not only action films but Hollywood itself. Tropic Thunder stars Ben Stiller, Jack Black, and Robert Downey Jr., as actors who while shooting a Vietnam war movie find themselves captured by real rebels and forced to become real soldiers. Tom Cruise is almost unrecognizable as Les Grossman an overweight Hollywood producer. Cruise is always drawn to roles that people might not expect him to do and Grossman is a prime example of that.

12. Magnolia(1999)


Much like a Robert Altman film, Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia is a film where characters that are connected seek love and forgiveness. Tom Cruise was nominated for an Oscar for his role as Frank Mackey, a self help guru who teaches men to be a man. What an amazing performance by Cruise, one minute he is a cocky pitch man the next he is heartbroken that his father is dying.

11. Mission: Impossible-Rogue Nation(2015)


Tom Cruise’s latest is also one of his best. Ethan Hunt is on the trial of the mysterious Syndicate. After becoming an international fugitive Hunt will need the help from his trusted friends and the mysterious Ilsa Faust to find and crush The Syndicate. Rogue Nation is everything Cruise does the best, death defying stunts and the ability to command the camera. The hanging from the side of the airplane is a highlight but there are other amazing moments. His chase through the Moroccan mountains his hair raising awesome. A must see in IMAX as well as the large format gives you a sense of the heights and the speed of the action.

10. Minority Report(2002)


In the future there is a special police unit that is able to predict murders. When Chief John Anderton is accused of a future murder he is determined to find out why. Cruise and Spielberg team up for a great sci-fi action film that is visually spectacular and a fun mystery to try and solve. The movie has some great character moments that are a trademark of Cruise actioners, and the pedigree of a Spielberg film.

9. Collateral(2004)

collposterPicking up the wrong passenger can make your life a living hell. When a taxi driver named Max picks up Vincent he thinks it’s just another job but he soon learns that Vincent is a hitman and Max is caught in the dark world of a contract killer. Tense and full of suspense Collateral gives Tom Cruise the chance to be the villain. And he is damn good at it. Vincent is cold, calculating and ruthless. Shot with Michael Mann’s trademark gritty style Collateral should not be missed.

8. Mission: Impossible-Ghost Protocol(2011)


When the IMF is accused of bombing the Kremlin it’s up to Ethan and his team to clear their names. The fourth Mission: Impossible is the best, with more of the twisty spy stuff we love and some of the coolest action ever filmed. A lot of critics were ready to write off Tom Cruise and the MI series, but they should’ve known better. This film is a thrill ride from beginning to end.

7. Edge of Tomorrow(2014)


Aliens are waging war on Earth. After a seemingly unobtainable victory, the Earth’s fighters are confident that we’ve reached a turning point. It is soon apparent however that the victory is short lived. Humans need something to change the tide of war and it comes in the form of Major William Cage, a talking head who can’t fight, but is granted the amazing ability to relive the same day over and over. One of the most original movies in a long time, Edge of Tomorrow is a fun, exciting adventure. Cruise’s Cage is first a slimeball but after dying and coming back he learns to be one hell of a solider. Emily Blunt is also stunning as the war hero Rita.

6. A Few Good Men(1992)


A thrilling military courtroom drama that questions what’s an order and what someone will do to cover it up. Aaron Sorkin wrote the script, and all the actors eat it up. The courtroom scenes are full of tension and the breaking point is one of the most famous exchanges in movie history, “I WANT THE TRUTH!” “YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!”

5. Born on The 4th of July(1989)


The treatment of Vietnam vets is explored in this explosive film from Oliver Stone. Tom Cruise plays Ron Kovic who wanted nothing more then to enlist and serve his country. After he is paralyzed and comes home, he feels betrayed and becomes an anti-war and human rights advocate. Cruise gives the best performance of his career as a man who is broken and reborn stronger. This is a powerful film that must be seen.

4. Jerry Maguire(1996)


Jerry Maguire is a hotshot sports agent who has a moment of reflection when one of his clients is hurt. He writes a manifest on how agents can be better people. He is fired and goes on a journey of self discovery and self worth. Cruise is right at home playing Maguire and all the emotions he goes through. Funny and touching, I believe this is Cameron Crowe’s best film.

3. Rain Man(1988)


Charlie is a selfish yuppie who learns after his wealthy father dies that he has a savant brother who was left his fortune. Feeling betrayed and entitled to that money, Charlie kidnaps his brother Raymond and they head across the country. Rain Man is a funny and touching film that is anchored by two stellar performances by Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman. Try to hold back the tears at the end of the movie, you will not be able to.

2. Risky Business(1983)


The movie that made Tom Cruise a star is also the ultimate 80’s sex comedy. With his parents away Joel decides to use his house as a brothel to help the guys at his high school laid. Risky Business is the fantasy all boys wanted in high school. Help your friends get laid and have sex on a train with a super hot chick. The movie is also funny and 80’s cool. It is my go to 80’s sex romp.

1. Top Gun (1986)


To me, no movie is more Tom Cruise then Top Gun. You could say he has better movies and you would be right, but Top Gun is everything I think Tom Cruise is, funny, action star, and cool. This movie screams cool from spectacular jet fighter sequences to picking up the pretty girl at the bar with The Righteous Brothers’, “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling.” And for the ladies the beach volleyball scene. The soundtrack is epic as well. I love this movie.

Agree? Disagree? Tell me your favorite Tom Cruise movie in the comments!

About the Author:

As far as nerds go, there are not many reeler than Ryan. His love for movies is unmatched. He also loves comic books. When you combine comic books and movies Ryan is at his happiest. He enjoys all forms of pop culture and prides himself on knowing more then average nerds. Ryan has a couple of characters he prefers over the rest, first and foremost is Spider-Man. He also loves Ash from the Evil Dead. Ryan also enjoys Finishing people in Mortal Kombat and hopping on Goombas. He has attended Comic-Con and several Starfests with his good buddy Brad. He is amazed on how awesome Brad is at designing Reel Nerds pages. But don’t tell Brad he needs to stay humbled. Favorite movie: Army Of Darkness Favorite Genres: Action, Horror, Comic Book, Comedy

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