The term “movie star” is thrown around a little loosely these days. Actors appear in one big blockbuster, and suddenly they’re thrust into celebrity status for the foreseeable future. There are very few performers who have stood the test of time and created hits for decades. Sometimes, though, it works out. Tom Cruise fits this definition as well as any actor who’s ever lived.
Cruise puts his all into his performances and movies, doing a majority of the stunts himself without a body double and funding his films through his own production company. While he may not have the Academy Awards of Jack Nicholson or Al Pacino, he’s been arguably the defining actor of the action genre since the mid-1980s.
We’re here to help you sort out which Tom Cruise movies you should watch next to get the full picture of his career. From his early dramatic turns in legal dramas and sports pictures, to his franchise work in Top Gun and Mission: Impossible, there are plenty of options to enjoy the best Tom Cruise movies.
Amazon Prime Video released its TV adaptation of the famous Lee Child novels to sufficient acclaim in 2022, but Tom Cruise was the first actor to take on the role of Jack Reacher in this fun and flashy 2012 flick. Some hardcore fans of the franchise were unhappy about the casting choice of the hero, as Cruise doesn’t physically fit the description of the hulking protagonist from the books. Still, it’s hard to argue against Cruise starring in a film in which the main character shoots the bad guys and saves the day.
This film is one of the most famous adaptations of the classic alien invasion story by H.G. Wells. Stephen Spielberg directed this special effects spectacle and placed Tom Cruise exquisitely in the lead role. Cruise plays a protective father very well here, adding some human substance to a film that often gets critiqued for its overreliance on computer-generated imagery. This was one of the highest-grossing movies of 2005.
We could have chosen the original Top Gun film here, but the most recent sequel is an even better Tom Cruise blockbuster than the classic 1980s hit. Cruise reprises his role as Pete Mitchell in all of his action-packed, perfectly shot glory. Top Gun: Maverick is, surprisingly, the highest-grossing film of Cruise’s career, which in itself is a testament to his longevity and devotion to summer movie fun.
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