Whether you're a Tom Cruise fan or not, movie stars don't get much bigger than him. From portraying a hotshot fighter pilot to an intrepid government operative and everything in between, Tom has had one of Hollywood's most enduring careers! In honor of his 58th birthday on July 3, 2020, Wonderwall.com is ranking Tom's movies. Keep reading for more…
RELATED: Biggest milestone birthdays of 2020
No. 31: "Cocktail"
In 1988, Tom Cruise starred in the romantic drama "Cocktail," which was based on the Heywood Gould novel of the same name. He played Brian Flanagan, a New York City business student who turns to bartending to make money. While the film received primarily negative reviews, it was considered a box office hit, grossing upwards of $170 million against a $20 million budget. "'Cocktail' makes beer commercials look deep, makes 'Top Gun' look like 'Hamlet,'" wrote Jay Carr of The Boston Globe. Ouch.
No. 30: "Days of Thunder"
The NASCAR drama "Days of Thunder" was not one of Tom Cruise's best — although it was one of three films to star Tom and now-ex Nicole Kidman. In the film from "Top Gun" director Tony Scott, Tom played Cole Trickle, an exceptional rookie racer at the height of his career. Film critic Roger Ebert described it as a textbook Tom Cruise movie sans pizazz. He wrote, "Parts of the plot are beginning to wear out their welcome, but the key ingredients are still effective."
RELATED: Brad Pitt's movie roles ranked
No. 29: "Legend"
In 1986, Tom Cruise starred in the fantasy film "Legend" as Jack, an entity who must protect the world from the Lord of Darkness who threatens to destroy daylight. The movie scored an unimpressive 30% on Metacritic. Maybe that's why "Legend" is the only fantasy-genre film Tom's ever starred in.
No. 28: "Oblivion"
The sci-fi flick "Oblivion" is full of extraordinary special effects and visuals but it lacks vigor in the script department. Although Tom Cruise's performance itself was not disappointing, the film still only scored a 53% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes' Tomatometer. Sorry, Tom.
No. 27: "Edge of Tomorrow"
Tales of the future and alien invasions are common narratives in Tom Cruise films! In "Edge of Tomorrow," Tom plays Major William Cage, a soldier caught in a time loop as he fights against merciless aliens. But the film fell a bit short, with Rolling Stone writing, "It's a treat to watch the typically heroic Cruise lose his s—, sweating and panicking at the thought of getting up close and personal with an alien race called Mimics."
No. 26: "All the Right Moves"
In "All the Right Moves," Tom Cruise plays Stef, a high school football star who butts heads with his haranguing coach. The film was an average '80s high school drama. The New York Times described it as "a well-made but sugar-coated working-class fable about a football star."
No. 25: "Jack Reacher"
In the action thriller "Jack Reacher," Tom Cruise plays the titular character, a former Army Military Police Corps officer, alongside co-stars Robert Duvall and Rosamund Pike. The reviews were mixed, with the New Yorker calling it, "A trim thriller with an enviable lack of grandeur."
No. 24: "Far and Away"
"Far and Away," which debuted in 1992, marked Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman's second collaboration. The epic romantic drama directed by Ron Howard tells the story of two Irish immigrants who travel to Oklahoma in the 1890s to build a life for themselves. However, despite being beautifully shot by cinematographer Mikael Salomon, "Far and Away" received mainly negative reviews. Film critic Roger Ebert gave it two stars, writing, "It's depressing that such a lavish and expensive production, starring an important actor like Tom Cruise, could be devoted to such a shallow story."
No. 23: "Valkyrie"
In "Valkyrie," Tom Cruise played German military officer Claus von Stauffenberg in Nazi Germany. Claus pioneers a plan of action and joins the German resistance — known as Operation Valkyrie — to overthrow the government from the inside. The film was greeted with mixed reviews and received a 62% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes' Tomatometer. Rotten Tomatoes wrote, "Given the subject matter, 'Valkyrie' could have been an outstanding historical thriller, but settles for being a mildly entertaining but disposable yarn."
No. 22: "War of the Worlds"
Tom Cruise portrayed Ray Ferrier in "War of the Worlds," a film directed by Steven Spielberg and adapted from the H.G. Wells novel of the same name. According to critic Roger Ebert, this alien invasion tale is a "big, clunky movie containing some sensational sights but lacking the zest and joyous energy we expect from Steven Spielberg." Maybe next time.
No. 21: "Knight and Day"
Tom Cruise came together with Cameron Diaz for the first time since 2001's "Vanilla Sky" (we'll get to that one in a minute) in 2010's tepid but enjoyable summer rom-com "Knight and Day." The San Francisco Chronicle said, "In the end, 'Knight and Day' isn't really about much of anything besides having a good time or perhaps the meaning of Tom Cruise-ness in the universe."
No. 20: "Collateral"
Tom Cruise's 2004 film "Collateral" follows a taxi driver, played by Jamie Foxx, whose life takes an unexpected turn when Tom's character, an assassin named Vincent, becomes his customer. The movie received an 86% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes' Tomatometer and has been described as a "stylish and compelling noir thriller."
No. 19: "Vanilla Sky"
Tom Cruise and Cameron Crowe came together once again after "Jerry Maguire" (more on that film later) to make "Vanilla Sky," the story of a wealthy New York City playboy's volatile life. The film, which co-stars Cameron Diaz and Penelope Cruz, received mixed reviews. Empire called it "a challenging, slow-burning drama that demands close attention."
No. 18: "American Made"
In 2017, Tom Cruise starred in the action comedy, "American Made" alongside Domhnall Gleeson (pictured), Sarah Wright Olsen, Jesse Plemons and Caleb Landry Jones. Tom plays Barry Seal, a real-life drug smuggler for the Medellín Cartel. He channels charisma and chaos into the role, making Barry's real-life journey from criminal to DEA informant all the more thrilling. The film, which was directed by Doug Liman, earned a score of 65% on Metacritic.
No. 17: "The Color of Money"
In the Martin Scorsese-directed "The Color of Money," Tom Cruise stars as Vincent, a young pool shark who's taken under the wing of Fast Eddie, played by film legend Paul Newman. This was a career-altering role for Tom, putting him in the ranks of the greats. "[It is] a joy to see two masters (Scorsese and Newman) at ease with their work, and one, Cruise, in the making," Empire wrote.
No. 16: "A Few Good Men"
In 1992's "A Few Good Men," Tom Cruise portrayed Lt. Daniel Kaffee, a military lawyer defending U.S. Marines charged with killing a fellow Marine at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. The film boasts a star-studded cast that includes Demi Moore, Jack Nicholson, Kevin Bacon and Kiefer Sutherland. The New York Times said, "[It's] a big commercial entertainment of unusually satisfying order."
No. 15: "Rock of Ages"
Tom Cruise surprised fans when it was announced he'd appear in the Adam Shankman-directed musical comedy, "Rock of Ages," which hit theaters in 2012. Given how committed he is to every role, it's no surprise that his portrayal of fictional singer Stacee Jaxx was absurd, hilarious and well-acted. While the musical film wasn't a critical success — "Rock of Ages" earned a 47% score on Metacritic — Tom's performance is certainly worth watching.
No. 14: "The Outsiders"
In the Francis Ford Coppola-directed coming-of-age film "The Outsiders," Tom Cruise starred alongside Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez, C. Thomas Howell, Matt Dillon, Ralph Macchio, Patrick Swayze and Diane Lane as a 17-year-old greaser in a teen gang in Oklahoma. When the guys get into a brawl that ends in the death of a rival gang member, they have to go into hiding. This one's a classic.
No. 13: "Interview With the Vampire"
In "Interview With the Vampire," Tom Cruise put on a lively performance as Lestat de Lioncourt. The Anne Rice horror tale chronicles a group of centuries-old young-blood vampires. The film, which also features Brad Pitt, Christian Slater and Kirsten Dunst, received a 61% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes' Tomatometer.
No. 12: "Taps"
"Taps," which debuted in 1981, tells the story of a group of military school pupils who try to save their school from closing. Interestingly enough, this was Tom Cruise's second acting role and first major performance since appearing in "Endless Love" earlier that year. Likening the film to "Lord of the Flies," critic Roger Ebert gave it three stars, writing, "By the film's end, we share their love for their school, we despair at the situation they have gotten themselves into, and we are emotionally involved in the outcome."
No. 11: "The Last Samurai"
Tom Cruise artfully played the part of a tormented U.S. Army captain who trains Japan's first modern army in the period piece "The Last Samurai." The Seattle Post-Intelligencer wrote of the film, "In his first role since 40, Cruise displays a likable new maturity and an unexpected willingness to look weak and foolish."
No. 10: "Minority Report"
In "Minority Report" — the first Steven Spielberg-Tom Cruise sci-fi thriller collaboration — Tom starred as John Anderton, a Washington, D.C., detective working in the future who uses foreknowledge technology to arrest killers before they commit their crimes. It was a commercial success and garnered a slew of Academy Award nominations. Rotten Tomatoes wrote, "Thought-provoking and visceral, Steven Spielberg successfully combines high-concept ideas and high-octane action in this fast and febrile sci-fi thriller."
No. 9: "Rain Man"
In "Rain Man" — which gave us one of Tom Cruise's strongest performances ever — he plays a self-centered brother who checks his autistic sibling, played by Dustin Hoffman, out of a mental institution prompted by their late father's will. The brothers end up going on a life-changing cross-country journey. Variety wrote, "It's a mature assignment for Cruise and he's at his best in the darker scenes."
No. 8: "Magnolia"
Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, "Magnolia" is an ensemble film with a web of narratives about the lives of several characters, played by Tom Cruise, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Julianne Moore and William H. Macy. Tom is stellar in the role of Frank T.J. Mackey, a manipulative motivational speaker who teaches men how to pick up women. L.A. Weekly wrote, "Part poem, part jungle blossom, all brilliance."
No. 7: "The Firm"
In the Sydney Pollack-directed film "The Firm," Tom Cruise played recent Harvard Law graduate Mitch McDeere. The 1993 legal thriller was based on the bestselling John Grisham novel of the same name. While it earned just a 58% score on Metacritic, Tom was praised for his performance. "Cruise was born to play company man, and the role is an opportunity to sum up his old roles and transcend them with his most potently emotional work," wrote Joe Brown of The Washington Post.
No. 6: "Eyes Wide Shut"
Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman sizzled in this risqué drama directed and co-written by Stanley Kubrick. Tom portrayed a doctor who begins having carnal fixations after his wife, Alice, played by Nicole, confesses to having an affair. "A spellbinder: provocatively conceived, gorgeously shot and masterfully executed," wrote the Chicago Tribune.
No. 5: "Top Gun"
When someone is asked to ramble off the Tom Cruise movies they've seen, "Top Gun" is usually near the top of the list. The action- and romance-packed thrill ride starred Tom as hotshot fighter pilot Maverick, a reckless but talented Navy aviator who trains at an elite flying school with others who are competing to be the best. The movie boasts a ton of awesome aerial shots and has generated a cult following — but perhaps surprisingly, the reviews from film critics are mixed. Rotten Tomatoes' Critic Consensus says, "'Top Gun' offers too little for non-adolescent viewers to chew on when its characters aren't in the air."
No. 4: "Born on the Fourth of July"
Tom Cruise's performance in "Born on the Fourth of July" earned him his first Academy Award nomination for best actor — and a Golden Globe Award. Based on a true story, the film follows Vietnam War vet Ron Kovic through the struggles and triumphs of his storied life. Critic Roger Ebert praised Tom's acting chops: "Nothing Cruise has done will prepare you for what he does in 'Born on the Fourth of July.' His performance is so good that the movie lives through it."
No. 3: The "Mission: Impossible" franchise
Based on the hit TV series, "Mission: Impossible" is Tom Cruise's most well-known movie franchise. We're lumping these six films (and counting!) together as it's a treat to watch Tom play the same evolving character, U.S. government operative Ethan Hunt, in all of them. The original "Mission: Impossible" was released in 1996 and raked in $457.7 million at the worldwide box office. "Mission: Impossible 2" was the most lackluster of the franchise, while "Mission: Impossible 3" — J.J. Abrams' feature directorial debut — raised the bar again. "Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol" was considered a breath of fresh air for the film series, and "Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation" was called "the most assured and satisfying of the five so far" by the Chicago Tribune. The sixth in the franchise, "Mission: Imposible – Fallout," however, might just be our favorite. Tom and director Christopher McQuarrie are already hard at work on M:I 7″ and "M:I 8." Get ready!
No. 2: "Jerry Maguire"
"Jerry Maguire" is one of Tom Cruise's most memorable movies. Tom played the titular sports agent who, after a life-changing shift in perspective, starts his own sports management firm from the ground up. Tom's incredible work earned him an Academy Award nomination for best actor, and Renee Zellweger and Cuba Gooding Jr. delivered exceptional supporting performances in the Cameron Crowe-directed classic. The Washington Post wrote, "Cruise is at the top of his form, and Gooding makes a brilliant opponent."
No. 1: "Risky Business"
One of the most popular (and easiest to emulate) Halloween costumes of all time comes from the scene in "Risky Business" where Tom Cruise's character slides into a room wearing nothing but a long, white button-down shirt and socks. In Tom's best early performance, he played 19-year-old Joel Goodsen, a kid who meets a call girl who transforms his house into a brothel while his parents are away on vacation. TV Guide Magazine wrote, "Smart, stylish, and cynical about the values of its time, this movie aspires to be 'The Graduate' for its generation and it comes pretty close."