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.
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.
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.
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.