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10 Best Tom Cruise Movies You Must See

Updated July 5, 2018
5 min read

What are the best Tom Cruise movies? Before we list down his 10 best films, let’s briefly look at his career.

If there is any major star who does not get enough credit for being a fine actor it is without question Tom Cruise. The man has given an array of terrific performances through the course of his career, and managed to be a major movie star at the same time. What I admire about Cruise is that he will throw himself into anything with abandon and do a good, sometimes a great job.

Though his breakthrough as a major actor was Risky Business (1983), the first time he really shone as an actor was opposite Paul Newman in The Color of Money (1986), which won Newman an Oscar and should have earned Cruise a nomination. That said I include Risky Business (1983) on the list as opposed to The Color of Money (1986) as I believe the performance suggested the talent he had. Two years later he was the best thing in Rain Man (1988) but again watched as his co-star won an Oscar.

He went totally against his image portraying Frank Mackey in Magnolia (1999) as a womanizing conqueror, and now in his fifties does his own stunts in Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation (2015). Here is the list of top Tom Cruise movies that you must see. You can stream some of these Tom Cruise movies online on Netflix or Amazon Prime or Hulu.

 

1. Magnolia (1999)

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As a misogynistic, self appointed conqueror of women, Cruise is electrifying from the moment we see him onstage to the heartbreaking scene at his fathers death bed. A demanding, difficult, ferociously angry character, easy to dislike, yet somehow he draws us in to make us care for him and understand his rage. Watch carefully the slow burn of rage when the interviewer pushes too far into his past and he sits quietly judging her, seething, hating. He should have won the Oscar for supporting actor he was nominated for.

 

2. Jerry Maguire (1996)

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For this perfect performance he should have won Best Actor, portraying a greedy sports agent who has an epiphany and decides to do the right things for his clients, even though it could cost him everything. Along the way he finds love, a best friend in his lone client who teaches him about love and himself. Simply superb, and the go to film when people grip about his gifts as an actor.

 

3. The Last Samurai  (2003)

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Likely his least known best performance. As a hero of the war in the late 19th century, fighting alongside Custer, haunted by his actions he is sent to Japan to train the army. Captured by the samurai he becomes their friend and ally, and marries himself to their ways, finding peace as a warrior for the first time in his life. Watching the evolution of this character is thrilling to see, and Cruise is perfect throughout this powerful film. How did the Academy miss this?

 

4. Tropic Thunder (2008)

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Though unbilled, and unrecognizable under the make-up Cruise is pure genius as the arrogant studio head Les. Bold and brash, it is a daring performance because it could have crossed the line in being silly easily, but never does…he is brilliant. He steals the show and we want more and more of him throughout.

 

5. Born on Fourth of July (1989)

Born on Fourth of July Tom Cruise

Cast as Ron Kovic, a war hero who came back to find his country had betrayed him thus he became a crusader against the war, Cruise earned his first Oscar nomination and won the Golden Globe. It is a searing piece of acting, watch him weep to his mother “Though shalt not kill ma”…or weep when the hooker holds his head after their first encounter. Aging twenty five years in the film he is superb.

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6. A Few Good Men (1992)

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As a lawyer for the military, Cruise goes toe to toe with no less than Jack Nicholson and gives a sensational performance. Focused, intense and bold he gives himself over to the character in every way. Working with an excellent script and a strong director, he nails the character.

 

7. Rain Man (1988)

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Portraying an arrogant, money obsessed punk who discovers he has an older brother after his wealthy father dies, Cruise gives the real performance in the film, though Hoffman got the best reviews and the Oscar. It is Cruise who evolves…who has the arc. He is superb throughout and should have been nominated alongside Hoffman.

 

8. Collateral (2004)

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As a hitman working his way towards a female lawyer who does not deserve to be killed Cruise is cold blooded and chilling, like a shark moving towards his prey. With his hair slightly grey, there is something truly sinister and cold about him throughout this film.

 

9. Rock of Ages (2013)

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Using his own celebrity to find this character,a major rock star, he is hysterically funny as a vain, preening, sex driven rocker who plans every move, every gesture, every word he speaks until he meets a journalist and falls hard for her. A wonderfully pompous character and when he is onscreen you cannot keep your eyes off him.

 

10. Minority Report (2002)

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In one of his best films, he is superb as a distraught father focused on catching killers before they commit the act. Again focused, intense, and outstanding, he gives himself over to the role in every way. One of his great physical performances as he is always in motion and when not his mind seems in overdrive.

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