Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 40 years, you can instantly recognise Tom Cruise. His beaming grin and energetic demeanour are all over our screens at the moment as he promotes the release of his latest blockbuster ‘Top Gun: Maverick’, the sequel to his 1986 hit movie ‘Top Gun’. Like the majority of his recent films, Maverick is an action-packed festival of daring stunts and high-octane sequences, but what sets it apart from other big-screen blockbusters is it still has a solid storyline and real heart at its core.
Epic stunts have become Cruise’s trademark in the latter half of his career, and he prides himself on carrying them out himself, rejecting the modern techniques of CGI and bluescreen. That’s really him running down the side of the Burj Khalifa in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol and hanging onto the outside of a plane in Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation. It’s his star power that allows him to call the shots on his movies, but that hasn’t always been the case.
Cruise first hit the silver screen in 1981 and in the years since he has built up a back catalogue of movies ranging from teen comedies to political dramas, fantasy epics and pastoral romances. His dedication to the craft and his genius at picking strong projects means that picking his top 10 films is a tough challenge, because you could easily put most of them at the top. Here are our favourites:
Top Gun (1986)
Is there anything more ’80s than a topless volleyball match to the sound of guitars while jets stream by? Top Gun oozes testosterone and machismo as a group of young hotshot Navy pilots compete to be crowned the best of the best and inducted into an elite squadron. It’s a lot of fun even if the predictable romantic subplot doesn’t add much to the storyline. Far more interesting though are his relationships with best friend Goose and top rival Ice Man.
Risky Business (1983)
One of Cruise’s early breakout roles, this movie oozes teen rebellion and attitude, in a completely different way to other popular 80s movies like Ferris Bueller’s Day off. Left home alone for a week, Cruise’s friends encourage him to indulge by inviting a local escort to stay. This then presents an ingenious business opportunity for them to open his house to his friends for a night of fun, but all is not as it seems.
Minority Report (2002)
A high-tech sci-fi thriller based on a Philip K. Dick short story, Minority Report is another Cruise movie that sees him play the lone hero against a corrupt corporation – this time, his former employer. In a future where agencies are able to see crimes before they happen and arrest perpetrators before they do anything wrong, everything seems idyllic. But when Cruise himself appears in one of the predictions, he seeks to dig deeper into where they come from and discovered that they’re not always 100% accurate.
This anthology movie seeks to show the vulnerability of the human condition through a series of interconnected stories. Cruise appears as an outspoken, angry sex guru struggling to come to terms with his relationship with his dying father. Part of Cruise’s attempt to diversify and avoid being typecast, this role earned him his third Oscar nomination.
Rain Man (1988)
Cruise played the supporting role in Dustin Hoffman’s Oscar-winning performance as Raymond Babbitt, an autistic savant with the ability to perform calculations at an incredible speed. Reunited after their father’s death, the two travel to Las Vegas where Cruise attempts to exploit his brother’s talents at the Blackjack tables. After watching the film, you might like to have a go at casino games yourself, and you can learn online how to play craps, blackjack, and other games.
Interview with the Vampire (1994)
A modern cult classic, Cruise’s casting as tall, blonde, French vampire Lestat caused outrage amongst fans and even the author herself. But his brooding, passionate, charismatic performance won everyone over and saw audiences rooting for this anti-hero vampire to finally find his peace.
Jerry Maguire (1966)
Another Oscar nomination for Cruise sees him take on the role of an idealistic sports agent who throws away his career in pursuit of his ideals, taking his lovesick secretary and single remaining client along for the ride. It’s an unashamed rejection of corporate culture that reminds us that the personal touch goes a long, long way.
Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation (2015)
The MI movies keep getting better and better, as do the impressive stunts the characters pull off. With an established team of favourite characters, Cruise is once again teamed with saving the world from the shadowy bad guys. This time it’s The Syndicate, a dark version of the IMF, but before he can beat them, he must prove they exist.
A Few Good Men (1992)
One of the best courtroom dramas ever committed to celluloid, A Few Good Men’s final scene has been repeated and parodied throughout pop culture ever since. Cruise’s team of lawyers go up against Jack Nicholson’s Colonel to prove that he ordered their clients to torture fellow Marines. It’s a tense battle of wits right until the very end.
Born on the Fourth of July (1989)
Oscar Stone’s biopic of Vietnam veteran and activist Ron Kovic earned Cruise his first Oscar nomination. The film not only highlights to horrors of war, but also depicts the struggles of returning to civilian life and having to live with their actions. Playing paraplegic Kovic was a major departure for Cruise who spent most of the 1980s playing the romantic leading man, and it showed off his acting skills to their fullest.
You can find a top selection of Tom Cruise movies spread across various streaming and rental platforms, so why not pick one for your next movie night?