Tom Cruise is one of the biggest movie stars in the world, and this is mostly down to his versatility as an actor. He started off starring in action-packed blockbusters like Top Gun, but he’s also proven that he has comedic chops alongside the likes of Ben Stiller and held his own in more contemplative dramas for directors like Oliver Stone, Stanley Kubrick, and Paul Thomas Anderson.
Few actors have the rare combination of talent and charisma that Cruise has – and on top of that, he’s fiercely dedicated, doing most of his own stunts and not letting something silly like a broken bone stop him. Here are Tom Cruise’s 10 Best Movies, According To Rotten Tomatoes.
10 Collateral (86%)
Collateral is a fascinating two-hander focusing on the relationship between two strangers. Tom Cruise plays a hitman with jobs all over L.A. and Jamie Foxx plays the mild-mannered cab driver he’s commandeered for the night. The two share spectacular on-screen chemistry that keeps the whole thing riveting from start to finish.
Michael Mann directs this slick thriller with gusto – a midpoint neon-lit nightclub shootout stands out as a highlight – but it’s really Cruise and Foxx’s acting that keeps you hooked. Stuart Beattie masterfully introduces his characters in the first act, escalates the tension slowly throughout the second act, and delivers a gut-punch finale in the third.
9 TIE: Rain Man (89%)
Although its use of an able-bodied actor to play a disabled role would be considered controversial in today’s climate, Rain Man is a fantastic movie, mixing comedy and drama in pitch-perfect ways and capturing the relationship of two brothers beautifully.
Tom Cruise stars as Charlie Babbitt, who finds out he has an autistic brother named Raymond (played by Dustin Hoffman) from his wealthy father’s will and finds that he’s good at counting cards and takes him to Vegas to win big. Cruise plays Charlie as unlikable, conflicted, and irritable, which leads to some truly interesting character development and well-acted scenes.
8 TIE: The Color of Money (89%)
Martin Scorsese’s belated sequel to The Hustler brought Paul Newman back to the role of “Fast Eddie” Felson to mentor a new student, played by Tom Cruise. The Color of Money is basically detached from The Hustler – the two work just as well on their own – but it’s still a terrific movie.
Until this movie came along, moviegoers thought that Tom Cruise was just some pretty-boy actor. However, holding his own opposite a screen legend like Paul Newman under the direction of a master like Scorsese, he won over those audiences and proved that he had some serious acting chops.
7 TIE: Born on the Fourth of July (89%)
A biopic of Vietnam veteran Ron Kovic, Born on the Fourth of July was the second installment in the Vietnam War trilogy directed by Oliver Stone, who is also a veteran of the conflict. Like Kovic, Stone returned from battle with a staunchly anti-war stance and began conveying that in his films.
So, when the director took on a film adaptation of Kovic’s memoir, it was like a match made in Heaven. Stone and Kovic collaborated on the script together, so this is more accurate – and more political – than your average, run-of-the-mill biopic. Tom Cruise’s angry, bitter portrayal of Kovic told audiences that he wasn’t afraid to play an imperfect character.
6 Edge of Tomorrow (90%)
When most moviegoers heard about the premise (and title) of Edge of Tomorrow – a soldier in a distant future relives the same day of a battle with aliens over and over again, a la Groundhog Day – they predicted that it would suck. However, when the movie came out in 2014, those fans were surprised to discover that it’s actually a mind-blowing sci-fi action thriller.
Director Doug Liman’s sense of pacing does a fine job of making sure the movie doesn’t feel repetitive, skipping over the repeated events quicker and quicker each time, and Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt make a compelling pair of leads.
5 Minority Report (91%)
Philip K. Dick has always been a rich source of cinematic material. This Steven Spielberg sci-fi actioner has a juicy premise – focusing on a futuristic police force that can predict crimes before they even take place – and has an even juicier plot to back it up.
Tom Cruise stars as John Anderton, who is determined to be murdering a man he’s never met in three days and has 72 hours to figure out who this person is and why he’s going to kill him. In an almost impossible feat, the movie’s execution lives up to its lucrative setup from beginning to end.
4 TIE: Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (93%)
The fifth Mission: Impossible movie was the one where Christopher McQuarrie jumped aboard the franchise. He has since directed the sixth one, making him the first ever director to helm two installments of the franchise, and then signed on to shoot the seventh and eighth movies back-to-back.
He clearly has a great working relationship with Tom Cruise, and it shows from the off. In the opening sequence, Cruise hangs from the side of a plane as it takes off. McQuarrie knows that this sight is interesting enough not to need any camera trickery, so he leaves a stationary camera locked on Cruise for the entire breathtaking sequence.
3 TIE: Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (93%)
There weren’t any truly great movies in the Mission: Impossible franchise until Brad Bird came along with Ghost Protocol. It has an engaging plot that takes you along for the ride, and achieves this by using spectacular action set pieces to drive it forward.
From sending Tom Cruise into a sandstorm for a novel take on a foot chase to blowing up the Kremlin in shocking fashion to having Cruise dangle from the side of the Burj Khalifa using nothing but sticky gloves (and harnesses that were removed in post, but still), Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is a gorgeous showcase of mind-boggling big-screen thrills.
2 Risky Business (96%)
Imagine if Superbad starred a young Tom Cruise and had an even racier plot involving scorned prostitutes and trashed sports cars and you might have a vague idea of what Risky Business looks like.
It’s crazy to think that a guy who jumped out of a plane and piloted a helicopter for his last major movie got his big break starring in an ‘80s high school comedy, but Cruise fits the role of Joel Goodson like a glove. In fact, Cruise’s charismatic and likable performance is possibly what makes the whole movie work. In the wrong hands, his character could’ve come off as pretty despicable. With Cruise in the role, he’s just a lovable rascal.
1 Mission: Impossible – Fallout (97%)
As soon as Christopher McQuarrie’s Mission: Impossible – Fallout was released last summer, critics were calling it one of the greatest action movies ever made. With the sixth M:I movie, McQuarrie and his star Tom Cruise were faced with a difficult task.
How do you top hanging off the side of a plane during take-off? Their solution was to make a movie where every scene is this intense. Chasing helicopters, dangling from a cliff, zipping around the Arc de Triomphe the wrong way on a motorcycle – McQuarrie and Cruise have left themselves with an even bigger challenge for Mission: Impossible 7.