GREENVILLE, N.C. ( — Tom Cruise arrived in Hollywood with a bang and has been a star—at the box office, in tabloids, on talk shows—from that moment on. While Cruise may not be the best actor of his generation—though performances in acclaimed films like “Magnolia” and “Rain Man” have demonstrated his depth—he is the epitome of a movie star. 

As such, that also means he’s inflicted with the movie star curse: Unlike the best character actors, it’s nearly impossible for him to disappear into a role (Les Grossman in “Tropic Thunder,” perhaps, being the exception). He can play charming or rude, but still make audiences root for him. Some may believe George Clooney is more handsome, Brad Pitt is cooler, or Leonardo DiCaprio is a better actor. And yet, Cruise has been in the game for nearly 40 years and is one of the world’s richest actors with a net worth of $600 million

In time with the release of “Top Gun: Maverick” in 2022 and ahead of the seventh “Mission: Impossible” film coming to theaters in 2023, Stacker ranked Cruise’s movies, from #43 to #1, according to IMDb rankings. Films with Cruise cameos were not included. There are some bad teen comedies and a handful of over-the-top action roles in Cruise’s filmography, but there’s genius to be found as well in the three-time Oscar nominee’s career. 

Read on to revisit Cruise’s classics and perhaps discover a few films you have yet to watch. 

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Young people riding in a convertible.

1 / 43Tiberius Film Productions

#43. Losin’ It (1982)

– Director: Curtis Hanson
– IMDb user rating: 4.9
– Metascore: 51
– Runtime: 100 minutes

One of Cruise’s first films was this raunchy comedy about a group of teens who cross the Mexican border into Tijuana to have sex for the first time. This film was first released a year before “Risky Business,” so it appears Hollywood wanted to see Cruise lose his virginity in the early 1980s.

Tom Cruise sits on the grass shirtless.

2 / 43PolyGram Pictures

#42. Endless Love (1981)

– Director: Franco Zeffirelli
– IMDb user rating: 4.9
– Metascore: 30
– Runtime: 116 minutes

Based on the novel by Scott Spencer, this Brooke Shields film marked Cruise’s big-screen debut. The film is particularly sappy, but it’s memorable for its theme song of the same name performed by Lionel Richie and Diana Ross, which was nominated for an Academy Award. Rewatching Richie and Ross’ Oscars performance is like taking a trip on a time machine back to the early 1980s.

Three people in a dark cave with flashlights.

3 / 43Universal Pictures

#41. The Mummy (2017)

– Director: Alex Kurtzman
– IMDb user rating: 5.4
– Metascore: 34
– Runtime: 110 minutes

Critics were not impressed with this reboot—which sees Cruise in the lead role—of the popular 1999 film of the same name starring Brendan Fraser. The New York Times’ A.O. Scott called Cruise’s version, “an unholy mess,” and argued the 2017 film was made for the fans, rather than the critics. However, this new iteration was so disliked, it brought an end to Universal’s planned Dark Universe.

A guy in a letter jacket talking to a coach while a suited up football team waits in the background.

4 / 43Twentieth Century Fox

#40. All the Right Moves (1983)

– Director: Michael Chapman
– IMDb user rating: 5.9
– Metascore: 62
– Runtime: 91 minutes

In the same year Cruise starred in “Risky Business,” he also played a high school football player in hopes of a scholarship in “All the Right Moves.” After clashing with his coach, all of Cruise’s dreams for his future hang in the balance. This film is based on an article by sports writing legend Pat Jordan.

Tom Cruise, in a white fur coat, stands next to Alec Baldwin, wearing an animal print jacket.

5 / 43Warner Bros. Pictures

#39. Rock of Ages (2012)

– Director: Adam Shankman
– IMDb user rating: 5.9
– Metascore: 47
– Runtime: 123 minutes

This 2012 film—which is full of 1980s glam-metal superhits, including the cast’s version of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” and a rendition of Guns N’ Roses’ “Paradise City,” by Cruise—tells the story of a small-town girl (Julianne Hough) trying to make it in the L.A. music world. The cast of this jukebox Broadway show adaptation is star-studded; Cruise—who plays fictional rock icon Stacee Jaxx—is joined by Alec Baldwin, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Russell Brand, and Mary J. Blige, to name a few.

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Tom Cruise as a bartender in a black and white image.

6 / 43Touchstone Pictures

#38. Cocktail (1988)

– Director: Roger Donaldson
– IMDb user rating: 5.9
– Metascore: 12
– Runtime: 104 minutes

“Cocktail” exists in a similar universe to the Patrick Swayze classic, “Road House”—only instead of bouncers being world-famous, bartenders are the major players on screen.

Cruise takes on the role of Brian Flanagan, a brash, bottle-flipping bartender on the rise, and Elisabeth Shue takes on the role of Jordan Mooney, an artist on vacation. She is also Cruise’s love interest in the film.

“Kokomo,” the song made popular by The Beach Boys, was actually written for this film by several people—including the Mamas & the Papas’ John Phillips, who drafted the verses.

Tom Cruise, dressed in a race car driver uniform, stands next to Nicole Kidman.

7 / 43Paramount Pictures

#37. Days of Thunder (1990)

– Director: Tony Scott
– IMDb user rating: 6.0
– Metascore: 60
– Runtime: 107 minutes

Directed by legendary action director Tony Scott (“Crimson Tide,” “Unstoppable”), this film stars Cruise as Cole Trickle, a hot-tempered race-car driver, and Nicole Kidman (who married Cruise the year of the film’s release) as Dr. Claire Lewicki.

The late Robert Ebert wrote in 1990 that this film is an “entertaining example” of what one might call a “Tom Cruise Picture,” noting that it relies on many of the effective elements that were included in films like “Top Gun” and “The Color of Money.”

Tom Cruise walks out of a police-surrounded diner at night.

8 / 43Paramount Pictures

#36. Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (2016)

– Director: Edward Zwick
– IMDb user rating: 6.1
– Metascore: 47
– Runtime: 118 minutes

The sequel to 2012’s “Jack Reacher” is a by-the-numbers action thriller, in which director Edward Zwick (“Glory,” “Blood Diamond”) “barely manages to tickle [audiences’] adrenaline,” Peter Debruge from Variety wrote. In “Never Go Back,” Cruise re-ups the role of Jack Reacher, the problem solver dreamed up by the author Lee Child.

A man with shoulder length black hair climbs up the face of a rock at the top of a mountain.

9 / 43Paramount Pictures

#35. Mission: Impossible II (2000)

– Director: John Woo
– IMDb user rating: 6.1
– Metascore: 59
– Runtime: 123 minutes

Ben Travis of The Guardian wrote that the second “Mission: Impossible” film “appears to have been put together by a 13-year-old boy who thinks that everything looks cooler when doused in slo-mo, explosions, inexplicable flocks of doves and a Limp Bizkit soundtrack.”

Gun-spinning action director John Woo (“Face/Off,” “The Killer”) tells the story of secret agent Ethan Hunt with his high-octane action touch—there is rock climbing, knife throwing, and motorcycle gymnastics.

Tom Cruise in a suit at a desk.

10 / 43Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

#34. Lions for Lambs (2007)

– Director: Robert Redford
– IMDb user rating: 6.2
– Metascore: 47
– Runtime: 92 minutes

This hugely ambitious film is a three-pronged story that hoped to tell the real story of America’s involvement in Afghanistan. Unfortunately, the film was not compelling enough to connect with viewers, despite the notable cast—Cruise, Meryl Streep, Michael Peña, Andrew Garfield, and Robert Redford (who also directed)—with one reviewer suggesting the dialogue throughout the movie was not realistic. Cruise plays a hawkish Republican U.S. senator hoping to bolster his presidential campaign by giving a sprawling interview to a reporter (played by Streep).

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Tom Cruise in the jungle with long hair and tattered clothing.

11 / 4320th Century Fox

#33. Legend (1985)

– Director: Ridley Scott
– IMDb user rating: 6.3
– Metascore: 30
– Runtime: 94 minutes

It’s hard to deliver a synopsis to this Ridley Scott classic without sounding slightly crazy, but here it goes: In a mystical world with many unicorns, a peasant hero (Cruise) fights the Lord of Darkness (Tim Curry) to save Princess Lili (Mia Sara—best known for her role in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”) and the rest of the world from an ice age. Also, Cruise is accompanied by a bunch of elves. This movie is truly weird and struggled at the box office, but the director’s cut has become well-loved.

Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz on a motorcycle running from charging bulls.

12 / 43‎Regency Enterprises

#32. Knight and Day (2010)

– Director: James Mangold
– IMDb user rating: 6.3
– Metascore: 46
– Runtime: 109 minutes

This action-comedy from director James Mangold (“Walk the Line,” “Logan”) breaks no new ground, but works from an entertainment standpoint because of the strength of Cruise and Cameron Diaz’s chemistry. Diaz plays a woman on the way to her sister’s wedding who happens to come in contact with a Jason Bourne-like super-agent (Cruise) who is being pursued by a government task force. Diaz comes to trust Cruise and the two go on the lam through Europe in this fast-paced, fun flick.

Tom Cruise holds a little girl during a storm in a crowd of people all looking up at something.

13 / 43Paramount Pictures

#31. War of the Worlds (2005)

– Director: Steven Spielberg
– IMDb user rating: 6.5
– Metascore: 73
– Runtime: 116 minutes

Steven Spielberg’s adaption of the H.G. Wells classic is pure Spielberg: grand and focused on a single family at a time of worldwide catastrophe. Cruise plays Ray Ferrier, a divorced New England father forced to take his two kids (Dakota Fanning and Justin Chatwin) into hiding as an unknowable, seemingly unstoppable extraterrestrial fleet seeks to conquer Earth.

Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman stare into each other's eyes in front of a fireplace.

14 / 43Imagine Entertainment

#30. Far and Away (1992)

– Director: Ron Howard
– IMDb user rating: 6.6
– Metascore: 49
– Runtime: 140 minutes

This epic film by director Ron Howard traces the path to America—and the struggle to grab a piece of the American Dream—for two Irish immigrants (Cruise and Nicole Kidman) in the 1800s. The film takes its time charting the couple’s path, first to the slums in Boston, and finally to the Western frontier. Cruise’s Irish accent in the movie is regularly ranked among the worst in film history.

Tom Cruise, wearing military uniform, walks down a hallway lined with military.

15 / 4320th Century Fox

#29. Taps (1981)

– Director: Harold Becker
– IMDb user rating: 6.7
– Metascore: 49
– Runtime: 126 minutes

Starring Sean Penn, George C. Scott, Timothy Hutton, and Cruise—in his second-ever film role—“Taps” tells the story of an elite military school slated for closure because of “invading” condo developers. The highly trained, yet immature students take over the school, arm themselves, and prepare for a fight. Audiences can watch a fresh-faced Cruise and Penn act in a film together just as their careers were taking off.

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Tom Cruise and Rebecca De Mornay standing together while she looks away.

16 / 43Warner Bros.

#28. Risky Business (1983)

– Director: Paul Brickman
– IMDb user rating: 6.8
– Metascore: 75
– Runtime: 99 minutes

Writer and director Paul Brickman’s raunchy coming-of-age story about a suburban Chicago teenager left alone by his parents, who gets involved with an escort and becomes entangled in a wildly out-of-his-control world. This could easily have been a throwaway teen-sex comedy, but Brickman gives it an art-house feel.

Best known for Cruise dancing in his teen character’s tighty-whities scene, this film sometimes gets misremembered as something like another Chicago suburbs set 1980s classic in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” But it’s much, much darker—alerting the world to the fact that 21-year-old Cruise was on his way to becoming a bona fide movie star.

Two men wearing dark coats over suits and looking at files outside a car.

17 / 43Paramount Pictures

#27. The Firm (1993)

– Director: Sydney Pollack
– IMDb user rating: 6.8
– Metascore: 58
– Runtime: 154 minutes

Based on bestselling author John Grisham’s second book, this stylish Sydney Pollack-directed thriller tells the story of a young Harvard law school grad (Cruise) who takes an inexplicably high-paying job at a Memphis law firm. Eventually, Cruise learns that the law firm’s real business comes from serving the mob. The stacked cast (Gene Hackman, Ed Harris, and Holly Hunter) makes this legal thriller a winner.

Tom Cruise talks to Cameron Diaz as she sits in a blue classic car.

18 / 43Paramount Pictures

#26. Vanilla Sky (2001)

– Director: Cameron Crowe
– IMDb user rating: 6.9
– Metascore: 45
– Runtime: 136 minutes

Cameron Crowe—of “Almost Famous” and “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” fame—directed this sexy, futuristic thriller based on the 1997 Spanish film “Open Your Eyes.” In “Vanilla Sky,” Cruise plays a womanizer whose suicidal ex (Cameron Diaz) drives him off a bridge, killing herself and gravely injuring him to the point of needing reconstructive surgery. He is nursed back to health by his friend’s ex (Penélope Cruz) whom he falls for—but eventually, things take a turn to sci-fi, and nothing is as it seems.

A navy officer sings to a lady in a room full of other people.

19 / 43Paramount Pictures

#25. Top Gun (1986)

– Director: Tony Scott
– IMDb user rating: 6.9
– Metascore: 50
– Runtime: 110 minutes

Tony Scott’s legendary “Top Gun” tells the story of Maverick (Cruise) as he tries to prove himself at the elite Miramar Naval Air Station—where he and his archrival Iceman (Val Kilmer) contend for the titular trophy. The film was such a hit that it actually led to a spike in U.S. Navy recruitment. For civilians, it birthed a love for Kenny Loggins (who performed “Danger Zone”) and beach volleyball scenes.

Three men stand perplexed in a storage area while looking at a computer.

20 / 43Paramount Pictures

#24. Mission: Impossible III (2006)

– Director: J.J. Abrams
– IMDb user rating: 6.9
– Metascore: 66
– Runtime: 126 minutes

J.J. Abrams is a master at entering existing franchises, such as “Star Wars” and “Star Trek.” “Mission: Impossible III” has Abrams’ steady hand, and much of its greatness comes from its big bad weapons dealer, portrayed by the late Philip Seymour Hoffman.

An Entertainment Weekly writer said of the third film in the series: “This is an Abrams production through and through, which means it starts with an exciting flash-forward that ultimately leads into a deflating less-cool-than-you-think reveal.”

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Tom Cruise and Paul Newman sit with serious looks on their faces next to a pool table.

21 / 43Touchstone Pictures

#23. The Color of Money (1986)

– Director: Martin Scorsese
– IMDb user rating: 7.0
– Metascore: 77
– Runtime: 119 minutes

Twenty-five years after starring in the 1961 classic, “The Hustler,” Paul Newman reprised his role in this delayed sequel directed by Martin Scorsese.

In the time since the first film, Newman’s “Fast Eddie” Felson has gone from upstart pool hustler to a front man for up-and-comers. Cruise plays the newest wonder-kid at the pool bar—and eventually, he and Newman have a face-off.

Tom Cruise stands in the pouring rain while pointing a large gun.

22 / 43Paramount Pictures

#22. Jack Reacher (2012)

– Director: Christopher McQuarrie
– IMDb user rating: 7.0
– Metascore: 50
– Runtime: 130 minutes

Based on the book by Lee Child, “Jack Reacher” follows a tough, talented ex-military drifter (Cruise) who arrives in time to help a beautiful lawyer (Rosamund Pike) clear the name of a wrongfully accused sniper. But this is far from a legal thriller—cars are chased and butts are kicked. Writer-director Christopher McQuarrie is also responsible for “The Usual Suspects,” “Edge of Tomorrow,” and the slightly lesser-known “The Way of the Gun.”

A balding Tom Cruise talks on the phone with Matthew McConaughey in the background.

23 / 43Dreamworks Pictures

#21. Tropic Thunder (2008)

– Director: Ben Stiller
– IMDb user rating: 7.0
– Metascore: 71
– Runtime: 107 minutes

In this comedy directed by Ben Stiller, a group of actors making a movie about the Vietnam War find themselves in a suddenly very real war situation. Cruise is usually known for taking on dramatic roles but in this flick, viewers will see him tap into his comedic side. Donning prosthetics—including a bald cap—Cruise portrays raging Hollywood super-executive Les Grossman. It was actually Cruise’s idea to take on the unconventional role.

A 2018 Entertainment Weekly article said “Tropic Thunder” was “a phenomenon” when it was first released, noting it was the movie that dethroned “The Dark Knight” as king of the summer box office, and it kept its top position in theaters for several weeks. While Robert Downey Jr. received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor—something considered rare for this type of comedy movie—Cruise was also recognized with a nomination in the same category at the Golden Globes.

An infrared image of a man's face with something like a target on it.

24 / 43Universal Pictures

#20. Oblivion (2013)

– Director: Joseph Kosinski
– IMDb user rating: 7.0
– Metascore: 54
– Runtime: 124 minutes

Set in 2077, “Oblivion” takes place in a world where humans have evacuated Earth after a genocidal alien attack. Cruise plays Jack Harper, a security repairman stationed on Earth as part of a last-ditch effort to grab vital resources that humans have left behind. When he finds a mysterious beautiful woman (played by Ukrainian actress Olga Kurylenko) whose shuttle craft has been downed, Jack’s whole notion of what went wrong on Earth is thrown into flux. This was director Joseph Kosinski’s follow up to his debut feature, “TRON: Legacy.”

A group of young boys stand in the street in tattered and dirty clothing looking like they've been fighting.

25 / 43Warner Bros.

#19. The Outsiders (1983)

– Director: Francis Ford Coppola
– IMDb user rating: 7.1
– Metascore: 45
– Runtime: 91 minutes

Based on S.E. Hinton’s classic novel, “The Outsiders” is a stylized directing feat by Francis Ford Coppola. However, the real MVP of the film is casting director Janet Hirshenson, who managed to populate the Oklahoma street gangs with Cruise, Patrick Swayze, Emilio Estevez, Matt Dillon, and a young Diane Lane. Hirshenson worked on hundreds of films after casting “The Outsiders.”

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Tom Cruise stands in handcuffs in an office in front of a line of police officers.

26 / 43Universal Pictures

#18. American Made (2017)

– Director: Doug Liman
– IMDb user rating: 7.1
– Metascore: 65
– Runtime: 115 minutes

This wild action film tells the based-on-a-true-story tale of Barry Seal (Cruise), a Trans World Airlines pilot who was recruited by the CIA to fly weapons to the anti-Soviet Contras in Nicaragua. The CIA link to narcotics flowing onto American streets was a disastrous stain on the agency’s history, but the film treats the whole affair a bit lightly. Nonetheless, Cruise’s charisma shines through—director Doug Liman clearly understands the kinetic power of the leading actor.

Tom Cruise in a German military uniform wearing an eye patch.

27 / 4320th Century Fox

#17. Valkyrie (2008)

– Director: Bryan Singer
– IMDb user rating: 7.1
– Metascore: 56
– Runtime: 121 minutes

In this high-stakes historical thriller, Cruise plays Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, a patriotic German Army officer who eventually realizes to save the soul of his country, he must join the Resistance. Eventually, the stakes are raised even higher when it falls upon Stauffenberg himself to kill Adolf Hitler with a bomb. The casting of Cruise, an ardent Scientologist, in the role of national hero Stauffenberg was not without controversy in Germany.

Tom Cruise, wearing all black, hangs from wires in an all white room.

28 / 43Paramount Pictures

#16. Mission: Impossible (1996)

– Director: Brian De Palma
– IMDb user rating: 7.1
– Metascore: 59
– Runtime: 110 minutes

Agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is on a quest to smoke out the mole that framed him for the murders of his IMF team during a mission in Prague. Hunt’s agency soon suspects him and he has to go rogue to clear his name and find the culprit behind the murder of his teammates.

Two men in wheelchairs wearing tattered clothing argue on the beach.

29 / 43Universal Pictures

#15. Born on the Fourth of July (1989)

– Director: Oliver Stone
– IMDb user rating: 7.2
– Metascore: 75
– Runtime: 145 minutes

Director Oliver Stone’s second Vietnam War film (after “Platoon”) explores the true story of wounded veteran Ron Kovic (Cruise), who returns home, hits rock bottom, and then pulls himself back from the brink to become the face of the anti-war movement. Cruise was nominated for the Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Kovic.

Two men in dress shirts and ties talk.

30 / 43TriStar Pictures

#14. Jerry Maguire (1996)

– Director: Cameron Crowe
– IMDb user rating: 7.3
– Metascore: 77
– Runtime: 139 minutes

Speaking of kinetic power, no film better unleashes Cruise’s charisma than Cameron Crowe’s “Jerry Maguire.” In one of the essential 1990s rom-coms, Cruise plays the titular sports agent, newly dumped by his fiancée and fired from his agency, trying desperately to keep his eccentric client (Cuba Gooding Jr.) happy while pursuing the first pick in that year’s NFL draft.

The film ends up centering around Cruise’s burgeoning relationship with his assistant (Renée Zellweger), a single mother who never expected to have a shot with a guy like Maguire. This is Cruise perfected—a coiffed, cocky exterior, but with a heart of gold under it all.

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A woman points a gun at someone while standing behind a man dressed in all black.

31 / 43Paramount Pictures

#13. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015)

– Director: Christopher McQuarrie
– IMDb user rating: 7.4
– Metascore: 75
– Runtime: 131 minutes

The fifth in the “Mission: Impossible” series pits Ethan Hunt against the Syndicate, a group of rogue agents hell-bent on destroying the Impossible Mission Force. This film—which reunites Cruise with director Christopher McQuarrie—came out two decades after the first of the Cruise-led “Mission: Impossible” movies from the 1990s.

Tom Cruise in a computer server room wearing all black and a long black glove and goggles.

32 / 43Paramount Pictures

#12. Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011)

– Director: Brad Bird
– IMDb user rating: 7.4
– Metascore: 73
– Runtime: 132 minutes

The same man behind some of Pixar’s biggest films followed up “Ratatouille” with a “Mission: Impossible” film. Incredibly, Cruise pitched the idea after seeing Brad Bird’s animated hit “The Incredibles,” and J.J. Abrams made it happen. In the fourth “Mission: Impossible,” Ethan Hunt’s team is blamed for bombing the Kremlin. While on the run, he must also prevent a nuclear war between Russia and NATO.

Tom Cruise as a vampire 200 years ago.

33 / 43Warner Bros.

#11. Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles (1994)

– Director: Neil Jordan
– IMDb user rating: 7.5
– Metascore: 59
– Runtime: 123 minutes

Based on the bestseller by Anne Rice (who also wrote the screenplay), “Interview with the Vampire” is a star-studded, slightly campy time capsule of 1994. Starring Cruise, Brad Pitt, Christian Slater, Antonio Banderas, and a young Kirsten Dunst, the film tells the story of an ambitious reporter (Slater) who interviews a guy claiming to be a 200-year-old vampire (Pitt). River Phoenix was initially cast in the role of the reporter, but he tragically passed away before the film was made. Rice publicly complained about Cruise’s casting in the film, but some view his wild performance as one of his best.h

Tom Cruise looks surprised in a room surrounded by people wearing black robes and masks.

34 / 43Warner Bros.

#10. Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

– Director: Stanley Kubrick
– IMDb user rating: 7.5
– Metascore: 68
– Runtime: 159 minutes

Legendary director Stanley Kubrick’s final film, released 12 years after “Full Metal Jacket”—and four months after his death—tells the story of a New York City doctor (Cruise) who dives into the netherworld of a high-class sex cult and its secret occult rituals after he learns that his art curator wife (Nicole Kidman) has a propensity for flirting with other men. The symbolism-heavy erotic thriller is clearly the work of a master, though it never reaches the heights of other Kubrick films.

Tom Cruise, with salt and pepper hair and a grey suit, looks at someone through a subway car door.

35 / 43Paramount Pictures

#9. Collateral (2004)

– Director: Michael Mann
– IMDb user rating: 7.5
– Metascore: 71
– Runtime: 120 minutes

Cruise is built to play heroes, but in Michael Mann’s stylish, sparse thriller he gives one of the performances of his career as a villainous contract killer. Jamie Foxx plays a cabbie who picks up Cruise and agrees to keep the cab running during five stops for a few hundred bucks. Eventually, he realizes that Cruise is murdering people and must find a way to stop him without getting himself killed. A co-star is essential to get Cruise at his best, and Foxx is a perfect on-screen partner-in-crime.

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Two military officers question two lower ranking men in an interrogation room.

36 / 43Columbia Pictures

#8. A Few Good Men (1992)

– Director: Rob Reiner
– IMDb user rating: 7.7
– Metascore: 62
– Runtime: 138 minutes

This military courtroom drama, directed by Rob Reiner, features Aaron Sorkin’s debut screenplay—complete with sharp and incisive dialogue, often delivered hastily while walking from room to room. Eventually, Jack Nicholson steals the film with his memorable, “You can’t handle the truth!” scene. But Cruise holds his own as the military attorney questioning the old colonel. Demi Moore, Kiefer Sutherland, and Kevin Bacon all play supporting roles in the film based on Sorkin’s play of the same name.

A man in a suit jumps from one building to another.

37 / 43Paramount Pictures

#7. Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018)

– Director: Christopher McQuarrie
– IMDb user rating: 7.7
– Metascore: 86
– Runtime: 147 minutes

In this action spy thriller, after a mission goes haywire, a dangerous anarchist, Solomon Lane (Sean Harris) escapes custody. Ethan Hunt (Cruise) and his Impossible Missions Force team (a fictitious government agency), are blamed for the mission going sideways. They attempt to complete the initial assignment—to recapture Lane and recover the stolen plutonium.

Tom Cruise, with red eyes and a black leather jacket, points a gun angrily at someone.

38 / 4320th Century Fox

#6. Minority Report (2002)

– Director: Steven Spielberg
– IMDb user rating: 7.7
– Metascore: 80
– Runtime: 145 minutes

Based on the short story by Philip K. Dick, this Steven Spielberg megahit posits a future where the police can arrest people for “Precrime.” Cruise plays a Washington D.C. detective in the Precrime unit who learns that he has been implicated in a future murder of a man he’s never met—and must go on the lam in the heavily surveilled 2054 America. This high-concept film is action-packed, and Cruise is a key chess piece for Spielberg to use to tell his futurist story.

Tom Cruise is dressed as a samurai.

39 / 43Warner Bros.

#5. The Last Samurai (2003)

– Director: Edward Zwick
– IMDb user rating: 7.8
– Metascore: 55
– Runtime: 154 minutes

This 19th century epic tells the story of Nathan Algren (Cruise), a Civil War veteran hired by the Japanese emperor to train an army to eliminate the last of the samurai. But after being captured, Algren falls in love with the samurai lifestyle and tradition, and begins to believe in the noble warriors’ ways of life. This film seemed created in a lab to win Cruise an Oscar, but he wasn’t even nominated for his portrayal of Algren; Japanese actor Ken Watanabe, however, was nominated in Best Supporting Actor for playing samurai leader Katsumoto.

Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt, dressed in dark armor, look seriously at each other.

40 / 43Warner Bros.

#4. Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

– Director: Doug Liman
– IMDb user rating: 7.9
– Metascore: 71
– Runtime: 113 minutes

Sometimes films overcomplicate things, but Doug Liman’s “Edge of Tomorrow” has trimmed all the fat. This action-packed film follows Major William Cage (Cruise) as he is dropped into a seemingly impossible fight against alien invaders—only to die and have to start over, again and again. With the help of a scene-stealing Emily Blunt, Cruise gets closer to winning each time, in this “Groundhog Day”-meets-“Starship Troopers” action movie masterpiece.

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Tom Cruise, with long hair, leans in to listen to a man who looks ill.

41 / 43New Line Cinema

#3. Magnolia (1999)

– Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
– IMDb user rating: 8.0
– Metascore: 77
– Runtime: 188 minutes

“Magnolia” earned Paul Thomas Anderson a second Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay and helped Cruise score a nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Cruise plays Frank T.J. Mackey in a sprawling tale of one rainy day in LA, which Anderson originally meant to be “something very small, very quick, very intimate.”

Tom Cruise with a skeptical look on his face.

42 / 43MGM/UA Communications Company

#2. Rain Man (1988)

– Director: Barry Levinson
– IMDb user rating: 8.0
– Metascore: 65
– Runtime: 133 minutes

Dustin Hoffman won a Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Raymond Babbitt, an autistic savant brought on a cross country road trip during his brother’s bid to grab a piece of their father’s fortune. Cruise portrays Charlie Babbitt, the initially arrogant, heartless brother who learns to appreciate the value of family. One New York Times reviewer referred to Charlie as “the film’s true central character.”

Tom Cruise in a fighter jet going over snow-capped mountains.

43 / 43Paramount Pictures

#1. Top Gun: Maverick (2022)

– Director: Joseph Kosinski
– IMDb user rating: 8.6
– Metascore: 78
– Runtime: 130 minutes

“Top Gun: Maverick” follows test pilot Captain Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Cruise) and his return to the U.S. Navy to train new Top Gun recruits. The team has been assigned a daunting mission: to strike a hardened and well-protected nuclear enrichment facility in an unnamed enemy country.

For the film, Cruise personally developed an intensive five-month training program for the actors that resulted in them shooting their own action scenes—from a real F/A-18 Super Hornet jet flown by Navy fighter pilots.