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The Best Tom Cruise Movies of All Time, Ranked

Celebrate the greatest performances by the age-proof actor


spinner image tom cruise looks up while working on fixing a car in a scene from the film top gun maverick
Tom Cruise as Capt. Pete "Maverick" Mitchell in "Top Gun: Maverick."
Scott Garfield/Paramount Pictures

Most movie stars fall off the A-list as they age, and most movie franchises get worse, especially after the sixth sequel. But Tom Cruise’s Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One (opening July 12) has the highest Rotten Tomatoes critics score of his career. Not bad for a 61-year-old who already made history — and, as Steven Spielberg told Tom, saved the movie industry —  in 2022 with Top Gun: Maverick. Not every one of his 40-plus movies is worth revisiting (Rock of Ages, anyone? Cocktail?), but the best of the batch are American classics. Welcome to Tom Cruise’s top 10 movies of all time, ranked.

10. A Few Good Men (1992)

In one of history’s great acting duels, Cruise, as a callow military defense attorney trying to save two recruits accused of murder, faces formidable officer Jack Nicholson, who bellows, “You can't handle the truth!” Aaron Sorkin wrote this dazzling courtroom drama on cocktail napkins at his bartender job, and it made him famous enough to create The West Wing and The Social Network.

Watch it here: Prime Video, Apple TV

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spinner image tom cruise shooting a cue ball at a pool table in the film the color of money
Tom Cruise as Vincent Lauria in "The Color of Money."
Buena Vista/Courtesy Everett Collection

9. The Color of Money (1986)

Another duel, between Cruise as a young pool shark and Paul Newman as Fast Eddie Felson on a comeback. Newman got an Oscar nomination as young Fast Eddie in 1961's must-see The Hustler and won the Oscar for this — partly because of Cruise’s star-power support.

Watch it here: Prime Video, Apple TV

8. Born on the Fourth of July (1989)

After six years as a megastar, Cruise got his first Oscar nomination in Oliver Stone’s adaptation of Ron Kovic’s memoir about the Vietnam War and his campaign against it. Once again, Cruise’s fiery genius helped win an Oscar — this time for director Stone.

Watch it here: Prime Video, Apple TV, Google Play

7. Collateral (2004)

In a beautifully moody Michael Mann thriller set in East L.A. after dark, when coyotes and furtive people wander the streets, Jamie Foxx is a cabdriver who picks up Cruise, the nattiest assassin you ever saw. His fare is hundreds of thousands of dollars, and all he has to do is help kill five trial witnesses — and survive.

Watch it here: Paramount Movies

6. Minority Report (2002)

In a grown-up role for a forever-young star, Cruise plays a high-tech cop who busts perps before they commit the crime. When director Steven Spielberg adapted this paranoid futuristic tale by sci-fi master Philip K. Dick (Blade Runner), he said, “I’m in my mid-50s — I’m no longer afraid of the dark.” Cruise doesn’t crack his famous smile, and as a result you take him dead seriously in a dark, smart thriller.

Watch it here: Prime Video, Apple TV, YouTube

5. Mission: Impossible — Fallout (2018)

All the Mission Impossible flicks are fine, but the sixth’s the second-best, partly because Cruise’s Ethan Hunt is a guy in his 50s — after stunts, he hurts like we do (Cruise actually broke his ankle on camera). Ethan hunts plutonium terrorists, races through Paris and London, skydives (warning another diver not to open the chute late or “the last thing that goes through your mind will be your knees") and pilots a chopper spinning out of control inches from snowy Asian mountaintops. What a ride! What a buildup of tension and sublime release!

Watch it here: Paramount Movies

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4. Rain Man (1988)

Cruise plays a selfish California cad forced to go on a road trip with a sweet, idiot-savant older brother he never knew (Dustin Hoffman) to try to cash in on their father’s inheritance and use the older brother’s odd gift to win big in Vegas. Again, everybody but Cruise got Oscars (for Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay), and they owe it partly to his supportive genius.

Watch it here: Prime Video, Apple TV, YouTube

3. Risky Business (1983)

In a brilliant, generation-defining youth comedy that Roger Ebert put on a par with The Graduate, Cruise is as good as Dustin Hoffman was in the hit that made him a star. Sliding on socks into his first iconic scene in his underpants while belting out “Old Time Rock ‘n’ Roll,” Cruise instantly hit the A-list and never left.

Watch it here: Paramount+

2. Jerry Maguire (1996)

Cruise's second-greatest achievement is his rebelliously idealistic sports agent Jerry, who quits his firm, champions an underdog client (Cuba Gooding Jr.) and courts his accountant colleague (Renee Zellweger) — he had her at “Hello.” The deeply authentic romantic comedy (that’s also slick as a pop tune) got Gooding an Oscar, plus nominations for Best Actor (Cruise), Best Picture and Best Screenplay (for writer-director Cameron Crowe, who wrote it as a critique of his movie-biz experience).

Watch it here: Prime Video, Apple TV

1. Top Gun: Maverick (2022)

The last movie star on earth soars in his biggest hit ever, grossing $1.48 billion by putting viewers in the seat of an F-18 at Mach 10. A rare sequel that tops the original, 1986’s Top Gun (which is Tom’s 11th-best movie ever), this flyboy epic’s success was propelled by grown-up viewers, who loved seeing their hero unscathed by age: Cruise was 60 when the film came out, the same age Paul Newman was when he played Cruise’s pool-shark mentor in The Color of Money.

Watch it here: Paramount+, Prime Video

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