The Best of Tom Cruise: Ranking 21 of His Most Memorable Performances

Tom Cruise is one of the most iconic actors of all time. From his early days in The Outsiders to his more recent roles in Mission Impossible and The Mummy, Cruise has consistently delivered memorable performances. So, without further ado, I present to you all of the Tom Cruise movies ranked from worst to best. It's no accident that Tom Cruise hasn't made the slightest foray into the fantasy genre since his lead role in Ridley Scott's original dark fantasy adventure, Legend.

The film is, frankly, quite bad, with a meandering plot and few character motivations, all of which are underscored by a distracting and incongruous soundtrack full of synthesizers from Tangerine Dream. The only good thing about Legend are the tremendously impressive makeup effects, which transform Tim Curry into an unrecognizable Lord of Darkness. As for Cruise, he clearly feels uncomfortable in the lead role, given the William Hjortsberg screenplay little to work with, and his first attempt to make the leap from a promising protagonist to a blockbuster protagonist was unsuccessful, although he recovered quite well the same year with a small film called Top Gun. Taps is a competently made film about a bunch of fools.

When the whole premise depends on a group of children from the military academy taking over the school at gunpoint to avoid its closure, it's hard to support the “heroes”. His entire plan is what we call faulty logic, and even though the characters realize their mistake as the film progresses, Taps spends too much time announcing his “honor and sense of duty”. As for Cruise, this was his first major role in a movie, and it's quite fun to see him playing the imbecile secondary character driven by testosterone. He's a personality type he would play a couple more times in his career, but never with such purity as cadet captain David Shawn.

The mummy wants to be fun, scary and adventurous, but only following the movements of comedies, horror movies and adventure epics without any original ideas of its own. Even when Russell Crowe enters the film as Dr. Jekyll, what should be an exciting new twist for a classic monster has been converted into an exhibition machine with few unique features. The promise was there when he developed a new twist on a classic Universal Monster with the star power of Tom Cruise, but unfortunately The Mummy falls short in almost every way.

The film still fits Cruise's “entertainment mode”, since it's a tremendously exciting film, but it doesn't have as much action as other recent Cruise movies, and that gives the actor the opportunity to show his range much better than in something like The Mummy. While the film probably could have embraced the dark even more, as it stands, it's an exciting and refreshingly different type of movie, at least for the current character of Tom Cruise. Cruise really seemed to want an Oscar in the 80s, starring in dramas of award-winning caliber before becoming a full-fledged franchise star. Barry Levinson's Rain Man was one of those dramas which swept the 1989 Academy Awards with four major wins but no Cruise nominations.

While Dustin Hoffman's attentive performance as Raymond, a wise autistic man may be the most prominent, the Amigos road movie is based both on Cruise's shrewd but thoughtful role and Ray's brother Charlie who re-enters Raymond's life when he keeps his father's inheritance. Like a condescending and desperate wheel dealer who is dedicated to taking care of his brother and eventually discovers that the Las Vegas plans aren't in his best interest, Cruise plays his cards delicately during Charlie's emotional journey. It may be a controversial film with its portrayal of a healthy actor playing a disabled character but there's certainly a seriousness in Cruise and Hoffman's chemistry that makes it a tear to remember. From American Made to Vanilla Sky we salute Tom Cruise's best roles of all time.

While Minority Report material didn't necessarily test Tom Cruise's emotional reach Cruise never ceased to fascinate his Empire and Saturn Award-nominated portrayal of John Anderton in this beloved sci-fi action epic. Keep reading to learn more about Cruise's 10 best movies. In this action-spy thriller after a mission goes awry a dangerous anarchist Solomon Lane (Sean Harris) escapes from custody. Ethan Hunt (Cruise) and his team from Impossible Missions Force (a fictitious government agency) are blamed for the mission's failure they try to complete the initial mission to recover Lane and recover the stolen plutonium.

This 19th-century epic tells the story of Nathan Algren (Cruise), a Civil War veteran hired by the Japanese emperor to train an army in order to eliminate the last samurai. But after being captured Algren falls in love with the lifestyle and tradition of the samurai and begins to believe in the ways of life of noble warriors. This film seemed to be created in a laboratory for Cruise to win an Oscar but it wasn't even nominated for his portrayal of Algren; Japanese actor Ken Watanabe however was nominated for best supporting actor for playing samurai leader Katsumoto. Early in his career Tom Cruise had to test his mettle against one of the best actors of his generation Paul Newman in this astute sequel to The Hustler.

With that in mind I've ranked 21 of Tom Cruise's best and most memorable performances to remind us all why he's considered the ultimate movie star. Tom Cruise has never been more intense or terrifying than his sociopathic hired killer in Michael Mann's Collateral a role that could very likely rise to the top of this list over time. Tom Cruise once again teamed up with Cameron Crowe for this mind-blowing and seductive thriller in which he plunges headlong into an impressive counterbalance performance as a vain and pompous executive whose life is shattered by a shocking accident.