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All Tom Cruise Movies, Ranked By Tomatometer

Top Gun: Maverick is back in theaters for Rotten Tomatoes’ 25th anniversary screening series at AMC — get tickets now !

From his teen idol days in the early ’80s to his status as a marquee-lighting leading man today, Tom Cruise has consistently done it all for decades — he’s completed impossible missions, learned about Wapner time in Rain Man , driven the highway to the danger zone in Top Gun , and done wonders for Bob Seger’s royalty statements in Risky Business , to offer just a few examples. Mr. Cruise is one of the few honest-to-goodness film stars left in the Hollywood firmament, so whether you’re a hardcore fan or just interested in a refresher course on his filmography, we’re here to take a fond look back at a truly impressive career and rank all Tom Cruise movies.

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Mission: Impossible - Fallout (2018) 97%

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Top Gun: Maverick (2022) 96%

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Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning, Part One (2023) 96%

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Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation (2015) 94%

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Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (2011) 93%

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Risky Business (1983) 92%

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Edge of Tomorrow (2014) 91%

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Minority Report (2002) 89%

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Rain Man (1988) 88%

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The Color of Money (1986) 88%

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Collateral (2004) 86%

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Born on the Fourth of July (1989) 84%

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American Made (2017) 85%

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A Few Good Men (1992) 84%

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Jerry Maguire (1996) 84%

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Magnolia (1999) 82%

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Tropic Thunder (2008) 82%

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Eyes Wide Shut (1999) 76%

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The Firm (1993) 76%

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War of the Worlds (2005) 76%

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Mission: Impossible III (2006) 71%

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The Outsiders (1983) 70%

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Taps (1981) 68%

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Mission: Impossible (1996) 66%

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The Last Samurai (2003) 66%

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Interview With the Vampire (1994) 63%

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Jack Reacher (2012) 63%

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All the Right Moves (1983) 63%

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Valkyrie (2008) 62%

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Top Gun (1986) 57%

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Mission: Impossible II (2000) 56%

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Oblivion (2013) 54%

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Knight and Day (2010) 52%

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Far and Away (1992) 50%

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Rock of Ages (2012) 42%

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Vanilla Sky (2001) 43%

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Legend (1985) 42%

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Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (2016) 38%

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Days of Thunder (1990) 38%

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Lions for Lambs (2007) 27%

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Losin' It (1982) 18%

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The Mummy (2017) 15%

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Cocktail (1988) 9%

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Den of Geek

Tom Cruise’s Best Movies Ranked

Tom Cruise is lauded as a movie star, but often overlooked as an actor. Here are 15 performances to change that perception.

cruise movies ranked

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Tom Cruise movie collage

Tom Cruise may be the last person standing when it comes to old-fashioned Hollywood movie stardom. While others have fallen by the wayside, Cruise still has the ability to deliver crowd-pleasing, spectacular movies that appeal to the all-important “four-quadrant” demographic when it comes to paying customers at the box office—at least as long as the words “Top Gun” or “Mission: Impossible” appear somewhere in the title, anyway.

Whether Cruise can score with movies outside those two intellectual properties is a subject for a different article, but it’s clear that he’s done so plenty of times in the past. More importantly, what has often gotten overlooked in Cruise’s long string of successes is that not only is he a movie star, but he’s also a damn good and frequently underrated actor, with a range that has taken him beyond the “Tom Cruise” brand a number of times.

Below is our unscientific ranking of Tom Cruise’s best performances. This doesn’t mean every film was wall-to-wall great, but most of them are, and all benefit from a stellar Cruise appearance. You may have your own choices as well, but here are the ones we found not just iconic but also indicative of an actor working at the peak of his craft.

Tom Cruise in Magnolia

15. Magnolia (1999)

Magnolia may be one of Paul Thomas Anderson’s more divisive films. Coming after the relatively accessible and often fun Boogie Nights , it was a difficult piece for audiences to wrap their minds around, but it certainly pushed PTA’s trademark glittering ensemble cast into new frontiers as actors. Chief among those was Tom Cruise, who felt his portrayal of the disagreeable sex-seminar guru Frank Mackey was so outside his usual brand that he kept a low profile during the film’s advance promotional efforts.

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That made sense in a way, because Cruise’s star power would have overshadowed the shock value (we mean that in a good way) of seeing his performance for the first time. Cruise is so unpleasant, so shady, and yet so larger-than-life that it’s almost a palate cleanser after the frigid nature of his previous performance in Eyes Wide Shut from the same year. And his climactic scene in Magnolia , at the deathbed of his father (Jason Robards), packs a weighty emotional punch. It remains one of Cruise’s boldest strokes as an actor.

Tom Cruise in Risky Business

14. Risky Business

Tom Cruise’s fifth feature film role is considered his breakout performance, and it’s easy to see why. Still very young (he was just 20 when he made the film), Cruise nevertheless began to establish the “Tom Cruise” persona with this movie that would be the template for many of his roles: a flawed, smart, often cocksure young man who thinks he knows more than he does, gets his ass handed to him as a result, but comes out of it as a better person and (in his early films, anyway) a true adult.

In addition to his iconic dance in briefs and button-down shirt (an image which arguably helped and hindered his career), Cruise gives a well-rounded and fully-developed performance as Joel, the college-bound rich kid who learns a thing or two about business from a hooker and her pimp. Aside from being funny and cynical, the movie is hot; Cruise and a sizzling Rebecca De Mornay share a sexual chemistry that Cruise has rarely found since (one of his career blind spots).

Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick

13. Top Gun: Maverick (2022)

You’ll notice that the original Top Gun is nowhere on this list: that’s because a) it’s not a very good movie at all (nostalgia goggles be damned), and b) the young Cruise was still figuring out how to modulate his then charismatic but largely superficial performances. Last year’s sequel , however, was an entirely different story. While the movie was formulaic to a large degree, its infectious energy, dazzling air sequences, and high cinematic value almost hid the fact that Cruise was also acting at the top of his game.

His Pete “Maverick” Mitchell is aging, careworn, and seasoned by both the experiences and disappointments of his life while haunted by regret and also burdened with the decisions he took on for others. Yet he is still a leader in every way, and a courageous fighter on his own, making this version of Mitchell far more complex and empathetic than that cocky young pilot we met nearly 40 years ago. It’s Cruise acting his age, and the movie is all the better for it.

Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man

12. Rain Man (1988)

The amazing thing about watching Rain Man today is that while Dustin Hoffman won the Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of the autistic savant Raymond Babbitt, it’s actually Cruise who delivers the more complex, nuanced performance as Raymond’s younger brother Charlie, a fast-talking hustler of collectible items who initially sees Raymond as an impediment both financially and personally, but ultimately grows to love and protect the sibling he only has a vague childhood memory of.

Cruise’s initially callow Charlie has the real character arc of the movie, and Cruise’s beautifully modulated work anchors the film, even as the already confident young star concedes the spotlight to Hoffman’s more showy performance. The film itself is modest, formulaic to a degree, and yet warm and funny. This and the less effective The Color of Money from two years earlier represent a turning point for Cruise’s maturity as an actor.

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Tom Cruise in Jack Reacher

11. Jack Reacher (2012)

Yes, we know: Jack Reacher in Lee Child’s books is a monster of a man—six-foot-five!—while Tom Cruise is nearly a foot shorter (he’s five-seven). We realize that Alan Ritchson, who currently plays Reacher on the Prime Video series, is a much more physically accurate version of the character. But, admittedly never having read the books, we still find much to like in Cruise’s tough, no-nonsense, dark performance as the mysterious drifter who helps people solve their problems.

Cruise is front and center and does his part justice, and even if the script is fairly routine , the action is terrific. We mean, who doesn’t like a movie where Werner Herzog is cast as a terrifying Russian villain? We respect Reacher fans (and ultimately Child himself) not caring for Cruise’s work here, but we dig it. On the other hand, the sequel ( Jack Reacher: Never Go Back ) just plain sucks.

Tom Cruise in Minority Report

10. Minority Report (2002)

Tom Cruise and Steven Spielberg only collaborated twice, but both projects were science fiction and both proved to be among the darkest films of each man’s career (the other is 2005’s War of the Worlds ). Minority Report is based on a Philip K. Dick short story and stars Cruise as John Anderton, the grief-stricken, drug-addicted head of a specialized police department known as Precrime. The experimental operation prevents crime by arresting the perpetrator before the crime ever happens thanks to three psychics who can foresee the future. Naturally, Anderton himself is soon fingered by the psychics, called Precogs, and goes on the run as he tries to prove he’s innocent of a murder he’s yet to commit.

This one is a winner all around , from Spielberg’s breathless direction to Cruise’s complex performance (and a striking supporting turn by then-newcomer Colin Farrell). Even the world-building of the film, which envisions a society where surveillance of all kinds (including advertising) is omniscient and ever-present, appeared to predict much of our modern world today. It’s an immersive, kinetic thriller, marred only by one of Spielberg’s famously tacked-on “happy” endings, making for the only flaw in an otherwise top-notch collaboration.

Tom Cruise in Interview with the Vampire

9. Interview with the Vampire (1994)

We’re old enough to remember when late author Anne Rice objected to the casting of Tom Cruise as her signature creation, the vampire Lestat, only to turn around and admit she was wrong after actually seeing Cruise perform the role in the film. And we remember how we felt seeing Cruise in his 18th century vampire garb as well: tickled and entranced by his larger-than-life, decadent, campy performance, almost utterly unlike anything else he had done up to that point. Eyes glittering, blonde wig flowing, and teeth stained with blood, Cruise is decadent and deliciously evil in the role.

Neil Jordan’s adaptation of Rice’s horror classic is atmospheric and seductive as well, finding the right atmospheric balance between romance, homoeroticism, and depraved Gothic chills to support Rice’s rather thin narrative. We’ve always been mixed on Brad Pitt’s mopey turn as Louis, Lestat’s long-suffering vampire companion, but Cruise is a delight when he’s onscreen and nearly matched by Kirsten Dunst’s debut as the child bloodsucker Claudia.

Tom Cruise in The Firm

8. The Firm (1993)

Based on John Grisham’s 1991 pile of unreadable crap massively best-selling novel, The Firm is one of those big Hollywood movies that actually sort of transcends its source material and provides an entertaining good time on its own merits. A large part of that is the cast, a glittering ensemble confidently led by Cruise and including some of the most reliable character actors in the business, including Gene Hackman , Wilford Brimley, Hal Holbrook, Ed Harris, and Paul Sorvino (not to mention Holly Hunter in a movie-stealing, Oscar-nominated turn as a sexy-smart secretary).

Directed by Sydney Pollack, The Firm is the epitome of a legal thriller, and Cruise effectively portrays Mitch McDeere’s transformation from wide-eyed, ambitious young lawyer to cynical yet principled dealmaker as he navigates both his crooked law firm and the crime family it represents. It’s a fine performance in a crowdpleaser of a movie.

Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire

7. Jerry Maguire (1996)

“Show me the money.” Audiences did indeed show Jerry Maguire the money, turning out in droves for Cameron Crowe’s effective, sharply written mix of romantic comedy and biting sports agency satire . Cruise is brilliant as the title character, a sports agent whose sudden crisis of conscience (a no-no in his business) results in him losing his job, his fiancée, and almost all his clients. His sole remaining one, Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding Jr.), needs to reappraise his life as well. Meanwhile Jerry also unexpectedly finds love with his new company’s sole staff member, Dorothy (Renee Zellweger).

Jerry Maguire finds both writer-director Crowe and star Cruise at the top of their powers, with Cruise giving Crowe’s incisive character study everything he’s got emotionally. The movie is a rare rom-com for the actor, an avenue he had potential to explore more if he didn’t pursue the sci-fi and action route so aggressively. Cruise received his second Best Actor nomination for the film; we’ll get to his first in a bit.

Tom Cruise in Tropic Thunder

6. Tropic Thunder (2008)

It’s tempting to call Les Grossman—the vulgar, megalomaniacal, preening movie producer in Ben Stiller’s side-splitting skewering of Hollywood—Tom Cruise’s finest hour onscreen. To begin with, he’s unrecognizable . It’s only a few minutes in, once you get past the bald pate, the beard, the extra padding, and the glasses, that you realize whose voice and eyes those are. And then your mouth drops open as it washes over you that we’ve never, ever seen Cruise like this before.

“Take a big step back… and literally fuck your own face!” Grossman screams down the phone at someone, just one of the unending river of profanities that emerge shockingly (and hilariously) from Cruise’s mouth. We don’t know (and may not want to legally say) who Cruise based his performance on, but Grossman is the distillation of every monstrous, boorish, money-and-power-driven movie producer you’ve ever heard horror stories about, and he remains the most out-there thing Cruise has ever done.

Tom Cruise in Edge of Tomorrow

5. Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

It’s a strange fact of film history that Tom Cruise has starred in some of the best science fiction movies of the modern era, including Minority Report , War of the Worlds , the underrated Oblivion , and this, which also counts as one of his finest films in general of the past decade. Cruise appears this time as the rather timorous William Cage, a public relations officer for the military who is involuntarily thrust into the frontlines against an incredibly relentless, hostile alien force. When he is splattered with alien blood, however, Cage soon learns that he has acquired the beings’ ability to reset time. He then finds himself looping through the same day and frantically trying to find a way to change the outcome of the war so he’ll stop dying.

Cage is a classic Cruise character in a way, a smooth-talking hustler with little under the surface who’s then forced to grow into a better human being. It’s a great performance in a powerful story (with the usual gaps here and there in time-loop tales), aided by excellent work from Emily Blunt as a soldier who joins Cruise on his quest every time he loops around. Largely neglected by audiences upon release, it continues to grow into a well-deserved genre classic status.

Tom Cruise in A Few Good Men

4. A Few Good Men (1992)

Rob Reiner directs this adaptation of Aaron Sorkin’s hit play (adapted by Sorkin himself, with an assist from William Goldman), in which two Marines go on trial for the death of a fellow Marine and have only a shallow young Navy lawyer (Cruise) to defend them. But as Cruise’s Lt. Daniel Kaffee builds his case, with the help of the righteous Lt. Cdr. Joanne Galloway (Demi Moore), he begins to uncover a web of deceit and corruption under the command of the sadistic Col. Nathan Jessep (Jack Nicholson).

The courtroom drama may be conventional in structure, but the movie rockets along on the strength of its performances, especially those of Cruise, Moore, Kevin Bacon, and of course the explosive Nicholson. Kaffee’s evolution is slow and effective, and it’s arguably here, while going toe to toe with the formidable firepower of “Jack,” that Cruise firmly proved once and for all that he could hold his own alongside the screen’s biggest legends. He’s marvelous, as is the entire gripping movie.

Tom Cruise in Born on the Fourth of July

3. Born on the Fourth of July (1989)

If Rain Man marked the first stage of Tom Cruise’s growth as an actor, then this Oliver Stone epic the following year solidified the young star’s standing as a genuine screen talent capable of range and depth. Based on the real-life story of Vietnam-veteran-turned-antiwar-activist Ron Kovic, Born on the Fourth of July was also the second of Stone’s unofficial trilogy about that most pointless of wars, nestled between Platoon and Heaven and Earth . And it’s certainly as strong as the former.

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In a role originally conceived for Al Pacino back in the late 1970s, Cruise is simply electrifying, smoothly moving through the different phases of Kovic’s life, from the war through his drug-addled aftermath in a series of increasingly decrepit hospitals, and finally to his fawakening as a paralyzed but fired-up protester. The performance earned the actor his first Best Actor nomination at the Oscars, and he probably should have won: his Kovic is impassioned and mesmerizing, and still a high point of Cruise’s long career.

Tom Cruise in Collateral

2. Collateral (2004)

Michael Mann’s hot streak as a director, which began in 1986 with Manhunter (and included efforts like Heat , Ali , and The Insider ), largely came to an end with this intense crime thriller, but at least he managed to do something that was very rare in Hollywood: get Tom Cruise to play an out-and-out villain. And man, did Cruise take to the assignment. His hair colored a premature gray, Cruise is malevolently magnetic as Vincent, an assassin on a hit spree who recruits a terrified cabbie (Jamie Foxx, also spectacular) as his unwilling driver.

Nihilistic and racking up perhaps the single biggest onscreen killing spree of Cruise’s career, Vincent is an empathy-free killing machine. Cruise once again subverts our expectations of his abilities with his portrayal of this monster, who never redeems himself as so many of the actor’s other characters have done. But then again, Cruise has never played, either before or since, someone as sociopathic as Vincent, making this one of his finest and most distinctive films.

Cruise and Atwell in Mission: Impossible 7.

1. Mission: Impossible (1996-2024)

As we say in our review of Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One , Tom Cruise has been constructing his magnum opus over the past 27 years with this always intelligent, thrilling, and keenly visceral action franchise. After a first movie that upended the conventions of the elderly TV show it was based on, and a couple of initial sequels that struggled to find the right tone, the film series became not just a true ensemble effort but a showcase for Cruise’s overall skill as an actor and his devotion to doing everything humanly possible to please his audience.

Cruise’s IMF leader, Ethan Hunt, has transformed from a young spy into a furiously independent leader and global protector, with the character evolving along with the actor himself. Ethan may not be Cruise’s greatest or most in-depth creation, but he’s been the most consistent, especially in a world where we regularly change Batmen and James Bonds decade or so. And the series itself has only gotten bigger and better over its seven installments to date, an impossible mission that only Tom Cruise could pull off. Perhaps we’re all the better then that he chose to accept it.

Don Kaye

Don Kaye | @donkaye

Don Kaye is an entertainment journalist by trade and geek by natural design. Born in New York City, currently ensconced in Los Angeles, his earliest childhood memory is…

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Every Tom Cruise Movie Performance, Ranked

cruise movies ranked

No one better than Tom Cruise exemplifies the breed of megastars who dawned during the 1980s, felt like gods during the 1990s, and are now a curious class of their own in the twilight of the traditional stardom they represent. Since the early ’80s, Cruise steadily and successfully carved out a career fueled by his boyish megawatt smile, a practiced brand of charisma, and an interest in physically throwing himself into his roles with dangerous gusto. His work has run the gamut. He’s swaggered through dramas, romantic comedies, heaps of science fiction, and most often, action films — including his latest, Mission: Impossible — Fallout . In honor of the actor’s latest big-screen spectacle, we revisited and ranked all of Cruise’s performances in order to interrogate why he’s remained such a fixture in the public imagination all these years.

42. Rock of Ages (2012)

The worst thing a star can do is refuse to grow. Cruise has had performances that reached high yet fell short, but in his turn as rock star Stacee Jaxx, he’s never been more unengaging or laughable. Jaxx illustrates the reasons for many of Cruise’s recent duds: a lack of self-awareness, a refusal to adapt as he’s grown older, an element of humorlessness. Watching Cruise shirtless-singing to ’80s metal hits like “Pour Some Sugar on Me” tips into self-parody. It’s a train wreck of a performance that lacks any of the charm necessary to not come across as an unintentional joke, making this Cruise role hard to forget for all the wrong reasons.

41. The Mummy (2017)

No matter how miscalculated his moves, Tom Cruise isn’t usually the kind of actor you’d ever call listless. He’s known for that manic energy and sheer force of will that marks so much of his work. But in The Mummy, playing Sergeant Nick Morton — a military man who unintentionally unearths the tomb of Princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), who haunts him after choosing him to be the vessel for the god Set for some damn reason — Cruise is drained of any energy. He leaves no distinct impression; the part feels like it could be played by anyone and no one in particular. It doesn’t help that the film is more or less terrible, but sometimes Cruise can rise above that. Not this time: His performance comes up empty.

40. Endless Love (1981)

Cruise’s first big-screen appearance is a brief role in this 1981 romantic drama about a bunch of teenagers in the Chicago suburbs. It has none of the vitality to hint at the star Cruise would become later in the decade. (Also, 19-year old Cruise has a surprisingly high-pitched, annoying voice.)

39. Losin ’ It (1983)

Losin’ It is one of a string of films that pockmarked the decade that brought Cruise to prominence. They are failures to be sure, but forgettable enough to not rank lower. This charmless teen comedy, hinging on a group of friends trying to lose their virginities, marks Cruise’s first starring role, one that’s unfortunately saddled by dullness. There’s not enough appeal here to make this more than a masochistic exercise for Tom Cruise completists.

38. Cocktail (1988)

For some, Cocktail is a beloved albeit thoroughly ridiculous testament to the cinematic excesses of the 1980s. To others (including myself), it’s a testament to how easily Cruise can read as loathsome and smarmy rather than buoyantly alluring. The film focuses on Brian Flanagan (Cruise), a student who turns to bartending to make ends meet. Cruise is energetic to a manic degree (which doesn’t always work in his favor), producing a vibe that repels rather than seduces.

37. Legend (1985)

I have a bit of a soft spot for this Ridley Scott–helmed dark fable, one of Cruise’s only forays into fantasy territory. But it’s hard to ignore how miscast he is as the adventurous, dashing young man saving his beloved from the Lord of Darkness (an unrecognizable and amazing Tim Curry). He’s a bit lost and even seems perpetually confused in this muddled story, unable to create the gravitational pull he’d go on to prove capable of elsewhere.

36. Knight and Day (2010)

Knight and Day reteams Cameron Diaz with Cruise in a markedly different film than their first collaboration, Vanilla Sky. This spy/romantic romp should play to Cruise’s strengths, but there’s something severely miscalculated about his performance as Roy Miller, an oddball superspy on the run who ropes Cameron Diaz’s everywoman into his mission against her will. What’s supposed to be played as eccentric ends up falling into an uncomfortable territory that kills any sense of romance or intrigue. This role, more than any other he’s played, shows how easy it is for the hypercapable, badass superspy character to tip into asshole/know-it-all territory, more eye-roll-worthy than charming.

35. Lions for Lambs (2007)

Tom Cruise seems tailor-made for the role of a Republican senator pointedly trying to cajole and enchant a liberal-minded journalist (Meryl Streep) in order to get positive coverage for a new initiative in this muddled Iraq War drama. But he lacks the slipperiness and conviction necessary to elevate the dialogue, and the movie suffers for it, coming across as a well-intentioned morality play with little heft.

34. Far and Away (1992)

It is often said about actors of Cruise’s stature that they are merely stars that play themselves again and again. It’s an argument I disagree with for a number of reasons. In Far and Away, the tepid 1992 romantic drama directed by Ron Howard, it’s clear Cruise purposefully working against that notion — but in all the wrong ways. He adopts a shaky Irish accent in order to play a boxer/immigrant who joins Shannon Christie (Nicole Kidman) in America looking for a better life. Cruise gives it his all.

But he’s an actor best suited for our times, coming across as uncomfortable in period dressing. His energy and style is far too modern to pull this off completely, although his chemistry with Kidman remains a bright spot in an otherwise drab entry.

33. Days of Thunder (1990)

I can see how Days of Thunder seemed like a good idea, as it reteams Cruise with Top Gun director Tony Scott. And Cruise, as a race-car driver trying to make a name for himself, does have nice rapports with co-stars Robert Duvall and Nicole Kidman. But it isn’t enough to craft a strong emotional center to what is an ultimately bland performance.

32. Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (2016)

This misguided, tonally confused sequel is an example of a decent Tom Cruise performance dragged down by the lackluster film that surrounds him. Cruise is highly dedicated as the titular character, going at it with a scrappiness and sense of focus that’s fun to watch. Unfortunately, he’s burdened by a makeshift family story line (which includes Cobie Smulder as a wrongfully framed colleague and a teenager who may be Reacher’s daughter?) as he goes on the run. Cruise admirably nails the action-oriented scenes, but when he’s called to sell the emotional reality of his predicament (particularly with his maybe-daughter character) he fails to deliver.

31. The Last Samurai (2003)

Cruise is widely considered one of the last stars in today’s Hollywood ecosystem whose sheer force of personality and high-wattage smile is a brand unto itself. But not even he has enough confidence to distract from how ill-formed this bloated epic is, or how ill-suited he is to lead it. Cruise himself doesn’t seem convinced in his portrayal of the bitter, alcoholic war veteran who travels to Japan and finds himself fighting alongside the rebellion he was originally tasked to help quell. This is just more fuel for my belief that something about Cruise’s energy is all wrong for period pieces (except for one example that comes later) — especially a 19th-century period piece set in Japan. Co-star Ken Watanabe provides the authenticity and complexity that Cruise lacks, leading him to steal the film entirely.

30. Mission: Impossible 2 (2000)

After the success of the first outing, the franchise moves into vastly different territory, thanks to Hong Kong action legend John Woo and screenwriter Robert Towne doing a  very obvious riff on Hitchcock’s Notorious and, more broadly, operatic action films that rely on a lot of slow-motion. These qualities are important to understanding what doesn’t work about Cruise’s performance as he’s asked to handle clashing tones and earnest romance, leaving him out of his depth. A part of me actually enjoys his chemistry with leading lady Thandie Newton, who plays an amoral thief. Unfortunately, Cruise sometimes tips into skeezy territory, and his best action work relies on a sort of simpleness that Mission: Impossible 2 seems allergic to. Despite his considerable efforts, Cruise often gets lost in the movie’s bombast.

29. The Firm (1993)

I’ve seen The Firm several times, but not much of it, including Tom Cruise’s starring performance, sticks with me. It’s a capably structured legal thriller but not much else. Cruise seems disconnected from the story, lacking the right mix of raw-nerved paranoia and intensity to rise above the admittedly lacking narrative. Mark this as another solid but otherwise uneventful performance.

28. The Outsiders (1983)

With a supporting role in Francis Ford Coppola’s adaptation of S.E. Hinton’s beloved classic, Cruise turns in a solid if not altogether memorable turn, dimmed a bit by the presence of his more fascinating co-stars, including a magnetic Patrick Swayze.

27. All the Right Moves (1983)

As a football player hell-bent on leaving his dead-end small town with a scholarship, Cruise provides the kind of tender and heartfelt performance the film calls far. He convincingly communicates the intensity and grandeur that comes with high-school sports, in which every win or loss feels like a harbinger for rest of your life.

26. Valkyrie (2008)

Cruise was far from the best choice to play doomed German army officer Claus von Stauffenberg, who aims to assassinate Adolf Hitler and undermine the Nazi Party with his dedicated crew of peers. But he actually finds a nice rhythm as the stakes for his character escalate, even if he doesn’t bring the kind of electricity needed to stand out from the film’s ensemble.

25. Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation (2015)

After the critical failure of Mission: Impossible 2, the franchise course-corrected; any sort of emotional arc would play a distant second to Cruise’s interest in difficult stuntwork. Good: The franchise is pure thrill-ride cotton candy. Still, not all thrill rides are created equal. Cruise’s return as superspy Ethan Hunt has its pleasures, yes; a particular highlight is watching Cruise work with Rebecca Ferguson’s Ilsa Faust, an undercover MI6 agent with steely intensity. The primary joy of Rogue Nation , however, is in watching Cruise pivot from one action scene to another, running with a peerless frenzy. It’s fun one, if a bit weightless.

24. Vanilla Sky (2001)

Cruise’s work in Cameron Crowe’s trippy, messy psychological thriller is best described as an admirable failure. He plays David Aames, a rich and powerful publisher whose romantic cruelty has disastrous results when a former paramour (an unhinged Cameron Diaz) drives their car off a bridge. Post-accident Ames is disfigured and plagued by visions that question the nature of his reality. Unsurprisingly, Cruise is able to play up Aames’s narcissistic and exacting qualities, but as the film ventures into more confusing, less emotionally well-thought out territory, he loses hold of the character.

23. Taps (1981)

Taps was only Tom Cruise’s second performance on the big screen , but it already shows the nascent version of a character type he’d later perfect: a man who’s determined to the point of psychosis. Cruise plays Cadet Captain David Shawn, a rigid young man whose youthful aggression becomes sinister when his fellow military students decide to take over their school in hopes of saving it from closing. He proves to be the perfect foil for the conflicted Cadet Captain Alex Dwyer (Sean Penn) and more thoughtful lead Cadet Major Brian Moreland (Timothy Hutton). Cruise’s performance lacks the fine-tuning he’d demonstrate down the line, but it is an impressive early turn that nearly dominates the entire film and proves his star presence.

22. Jack Reacher (2012)

What makes a truly good action film? I’m talking about the bare-bones qualities of an action film that forgoes the fantasy or horror gleam that many modern examples have these days. I’ve thought about this question a lot, especially while watching Tom Cruise in his first appearance as the titular Jack Reacher, a bruising U.S. Army military police corps officer with no fixed address. Cruise is notably completely wrong if you’re looking for a direct adaptation of the Lee Childs hero. His fights are more brutal and occur in closer range. His humor veers from dry to downright caustic. He’s a bit darker-edged than the typical lead Cruise tends to adopt. And while there are moments when Cruise doesn’t quite nail the tone — or the blunt, vaguely offensive jokes (like the clip above demonstrates) — this performance still holds many delights.

21. American Made (2017)

American Made is a confused film, unsure whether it wants to be a glossy Hollywood anti-hero romp or a grimy 1970s crime flick. Tom Cruise’s leading performance as Barry Seal — a perpetually sweat-drenched hot-shot TWA pilot turned gun/drug runner for the American government and narcotics smuggler for the Medellín cartel — reflects that confusion. It isn’t a wholly terrible performance. Cruise is engaging, carrying a blend of cocksure bravado and befuddlement at the sheer ridiculousness of the situations he finds himself in. American Made feels like an throwback to Cruise’s well-worn playbook; it’s particularly in line with his work in Top Gun. It’s mostly fun, though Cruise does lose points for trying (and failing) to pull off a Baton Rouge accent that can be best described as Generic Southern Accent That Doesn’t Really Exist™.

20. Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol (2011)

Ghost Protocol sees the MI franchise eschew even the semblance of reality. It’s full-on cartoonish, bombastic action, and it’s clear Cruise is having a ball with the increasingly inventive dilemmas his superspy is forced into. Ethan Hunt is a bit more world-weary here than he’s been before (can you blame him?), but the film never gets dour thanks to Cruise’s great chemistry with castmates Simon Pegg and Paula Patton.

19. Tropic Thunder (2008)

To survive at Cruise’s level of stardom, you have to understand how the business works. That veteran insider knowledge goes to great use in his small but uproarious turn in Tropic Thunder. He’s nearly unrecognizable as studio exec Les Grossman, who makes venomous, expletive-laden insults an art form. But Cruise’s approach to the character is the chilling undercurrent he lends Grossman. Just look at the dead-eyed glare he gives Matthew McConaughey when he calmly explains how to use an actor’s death to his own advantage. It’s rare but refreshing to see Cruise cut loose and be a little less concerned about endearing himself to the audience.

18. Oblivion (2013)

At first blush, Oblivion looks to embody some of the more noxious issues that mark a lot of recent Cruise work: a sterile action film with a science-fiction sheen; thin emotional through lines; Cruise paired with actresses notably younger than he is . Thankfully, Oblivion proves to be a fascinating, if uneven, study on the nature of loss, much of which is thanks to Cruise’s turn as a futuristic repairman in Earth’s devastated future — a role that gives him the opportunity to stretch a bit more than he’s had to lately.

17. Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

Edge of Tomorrow adds new wrinkles to the typically hypercompetent military figure he’s played elsewhere. This time he’s an official with no combat training thrust into a messy war with an alien species — and he dies nearly immediately when he hits the battlefield. He ends up reliving his final day again and again, dying in creative ways each time. In truth, the movie’s true badass is a curt Emily Blunt as Sergeant Rita Vrataski, who whips him into shape, creating a fun tension between the two. But it’s exhilarating to watch Cruise lean into the physical humor and meld together the various personae that have come to define his career as a leading man.

16. A Few Good Men (1992)

Legal dramas — particularly those written by the likes of Aaron Sorkin — can be tricky pursuits for actors, requiring a verbal dexterity that can easily overpower them. But Cruise is excellent here, conveying an ease and gravitas as Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee, who must work a thorny case when a Marine is murdered and a cover-up ensues. Cruise more than holds his own against the bluster of Jack Nicholson, an actor who can easily dominate whatever scene he’s in. But by the end of the film Cruise has a confidence and steadfast demeanor that proves to be a fascinating, subtle transformation.

15. The Color of Money (1986)

In an interview on Inside the Actors Studio , when discussing this Martin Scorsese–helmed sequel to The Hustler, Cruise described co-star Paul Newman as an idol. It’s clear here that Cruise is learning from Newman’s trademark ease and depth as an actor, rising to the challenge the movie asks of him. Cruise has played plenty of young, talented hot shots early in his career, but his work as Vincent Lauria is particularly noteworthy for the exuberance he carries, and how wonderfully he plays off the weary Newman.

14. Risky Business (1983)

In her excellent essay collection This Is Running for Your Life, Michelle Orange wrote, “True movie stars are born twice.” She’s right. There is, of course, the first story of how their stardom happened. The second birth is when they do something fans can’t forget, moments that became singed into the cultural consciousness. Cruise has produced a handful of them, but one of the most important happens here , when he dances to “Old Time Rock ‘n’ Roll” by Bob Seger. Risky Business helped launch Cruise’s stardom, and it’s no wonder why.

13. Jerry Maguire (1996)

Tom Cruise has not appeared in many romantic comedies, and for good reason. Not many modern rom-coms could play toward his strengths — that practiced allure, the charming opportunism behind his easy-but-calculated smile, and the distinct impression that he’s holding something back. All of these qualities are used to great effect in this Cameron Crowe rom-com/sports drama, which gives Cruise some of his most iconic lines. But most importantly, it gives him a venue to chart a fascinating progression from a self-obsessed sports manager with shadings of a classic fuckboy to a man who reckons sincerely with his more loathsome instincts.

12. Mission: Impossible III (2006)

The third installment of what’s now Cruise’s signature franchise sees Ethan Hunt retired from fieldwork, training new recruits, and eventually squaring off with Philip Seymour Hoffman, who relishes and dominates every scene he’s in. The story line involving Michelle Monaghan as Hunt’s kept-in-the-dark fiancée has some well-worn beats, but Cruise is still an absolute pleasure to watch. The film’s otherwise excellent team dynamics allow him to expand his repertoire within the franchise, showing off some wry humor and even a surprising tenderness opposite Keri Russell.

11. Mission: Impossible — Fallout (2018)

During its short time thus far in theaters, Mission:Impossible — Fallout has proven to be an action master class, marrying ridiculous plot turns with astounding set pieces. Cruise matches the bravura of the film around him with gusto. He throws himself headlong into his outrageous stunts — one of which led to an injury, which brings up a host of questions about how his career can continue in this manner. But Cruise is a blast to watch as he navigates confusion and double crosses, his performance dented only by the requirement of traditional romance (although his scenes with Michelle Monaghan bristle with an intriguing awkwardness). He shares the glory here with some great supporting cast, most notably Henry Cavill’s surprisingly effective turn as a bruiser with slippery loyalty and Rebecca Ferguson as Ilsa, the gimlet-eyed agent turned quasi–love interest.

10. Rain Man (1988)

While Cruise is obviously adept at providing the presence and physical dexterity action films require, his skills as an actor really shine through in drama films of this caliber. Rain Man gives Cruise the chance to stretch his abilities without resting on his typical charms. The entire film depends on his ability to capably communicate his character’s tricky arc: Cruise plays Charlie Babbitt, an unscrupulous and cunning yuppie who finds out that most of his estranged father’s estate is being given to an older brother he didn’t know about (Dustin Hoffman in an Oscar-winning role). As the two brothers travel across the country, Cruise delivers a genuinely touching portrayal of a man shedding his abrasive, self-centered nature to become a protective, tenderhearted brother. He has rarely felt so vulnerable onscreen.

9. Top Gun (1986)

Maverick is the quintessential cocksure, determined, highly skilled leading character that Cruise has spent a career perfecting. For many people, Top Gun is synonymous with the actor — it’s the first image they think of when they think of Tom Cruise. And while the film, directed by Tony Scott, exemplifies some of the worst aspects of Reagan-era America, Cruise himself isn’t dragged down by this one bit. It’s easy to see why this performance has left such an impact on the pop-culture imagination. His physical bravado, confidence, and joyfulness cast a spell.

8. Mission: Impossible (1996)

It’s easy to believe that Tom Cruise The Action Star has always been with us. But Mission: Impossible is when he became the real-life action figure we know him as today. And what a doozy it is. Helmed by Brian de Palma, in the film Cruise effortlessly toggles between espionage-thriller mood and impactful physicality. The movie perfectly demonstrates how smoothly Cruise can shift between tones when he needs to — just look at the infamous Pentagon break-in sequence, where he blends sweaty anxiety with light humor and, on top of all that, the action-movie tension needed to make it all work.

7. Minority Report (2002)

Minority Report is a sleek, absorbing science-fiction yarn that manages to turn a Philip K. Dick story into an expressive blockbuster action film. But Tom Cruise’s performance as John Anderton, an on-the-run detective in a futuristic world in which people can be arrested for crimes before they’ve even committed them, pushes the dark social commentary and exhilarating nature of the story to new heights. As Anderton, Cruise marries the best of his genre-film talents into one impressively gripping performance. There’s a haunted quality to his Anderton, the kind of man who carries his past wounds with him. Cruise proves to be extremely potent as a neo-noir lead.

6. Born on the Fourth of July (1989)

This adaptation of the autobiography of the same name by Vietnam War veteran Ron Kovic (played by Cruise) is an emotional gauntlet for the actor — and it requires a dramatic physical transformation too. I’ve lamented Cruise’s work in period pieces, but he works well in this film’s ’60s and ’70s settings. One of Cruise’s specialties is to dissect the American myth, and he gets ample opportunity to do so here as he charts Kovic’s transformation from a fresh-faced soldier to an emotionally wounded, paralyzed, war-protesting vet. A mirror opposite of the more traditional military leads Cruise tends to play, his performance here is arresting, raw, and powerful.

5. War of the Worlds (2005)

Cruise is not exactly the first actor you’d expect to play an Everyman like Ray Ferrier, the longshoreman at the heart of Steven Spielberg’s 2005 sci-fi epic . But he brings gravity and heart to the central dynamic of the film — Ferrier’s desire not to be a failure as a father, and the all-consuming goal to protect his children from the alien havoc decimating the world. It’s an excellent, absorbing, humane performance that sees Cruise’s typical mania soften into a heartwarming dedication to save his family.

4. Magnolia (1999)

Few modern actors understand the mask-like quality of celebrity better than Tom Cruise, who interrogates these ideas with aplomb in Magnolia. Has Cruise ever been more utterly disturbing or strangely entrancing than as self-help guru and living embodiment of toxic masculinity Frank T.J. Mackey? Cruise only plays a supporting role here, but he’s what the viewer is drawn to most; he embodies modern masculinity’s most noxious qualities. And when all that bravado is threatened by the mere mention of his family, the way Cruise communicates the damaged vulnerability lurking beneath the surface is a marvel.

3. Collateral (2004)

In a Black Book interview, director Mary Harron shared that actor Christian Bale found inspiration for American Psycho ’s obsessive serial killer Patrick Bateman in Tom Cruise. “We talked about how Martian-like Patrick Bateman was, how he was looking at the world like somebody from another planet, watching what people did and trying to work out the right way to behave. And then one day he called me and he had been watching Tom Cruise on David Letterman, and he just had this very intense friendliness with nothing behind the eyes, and he was really taken with this energy.” It’s for precisely this reason why Cruise never feels like a truly capable romantic lead: There’s something practiced, even unnatural about his charisma, like a mask being worn. Most directors miss out on this quality, but Michael Mann capitalized on it. Cruise delivers one of his most assured and complex performances as Vincent, a hit man who ropes in an unsuspecting cabdriver played by Jamie Foxx. Cruise’s charisma is finally used as a weapon, not a lure.

2. Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

Dr. Bill Hartford is an unlikely part for Cruise. He’s humiliated, confused, and frequently out of his depth in Stanley Kubrick’s odd erotic drama Eyes Wide Shut. But it proves to be one of Cruise’s richest and most complex performances as he navigates a strange milieu of sexual desire. The tension between him and then-wife Nicole Kidman, playing his movie wife Alice Hartford, along with Cruise’s utter lack of an equilibrium make this as much about sexuality as it is about the trials and tribulations we endure to find any sense of happiness.

1. Interview With the Vampire (1994)

Lestat, the preening and egotistical creation by Gothic novelist Anne Rice, is the photo negative of a typical Tom Cruise role — at least that’s how he seems at first. He doesn’t run or channel manic energy or do stunt work; he saunters and stalks with the coolly focused energy of a wolf. He’s languid and frightening, lupine and menacing. But Lestat does share one trait that snakes its way through Cruise’s greatest work: bold narcissism. Interview With the Vampire allows Cruise to lean into that. It lets Cruise be something he’s rarely been — archly humorous, disturbingly erotic, truly dangerous. It’s wondrous watching him turn from sincere to brutal as he plays off the cheerfully cruel Kirsten Dunst and the solemn Brad Pitt.

More importantly, this is one of the rare performances in which Cruise utterly cuts loose and experiments beyond the usual archetypes he’s grown accustomed to. It isn’t a perfect performance — it’s better than that. Beguiling and malevolently anti-charismatic, Cruise has never been more fun to watch.

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cruise movies ranked

All 44 of Tom Cruise’s movies, ranked

Tom Cruise appears in character in the film "Jerry Maguire." "Jerry Maguire" was nominated for Best Picture in the 69th Annual Academy Awards nominations in Beverly Hills, Calif., Tuesday, Feb. 11, 1997. (AP Photo/Columbia TriStar, Andrew Cooper)

Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire (1996). Columbia TriStar via The Associated Press

“He is uniquely trained and highly motivated – a specialist without equal – immune to any countermeasures. ... He is the living manifestation of destiny.”

Those words belong to Alec Baldwin’s CIA honcho in Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation , describing the superspy Ethan Hunt played by Tom Cruise. But Baldwin might as well just be describing Cruise himself, a pure force of will who has elevated (almost) every movie he has been involved with. After spending the past half-year diving into the star’s filmography, here is my mission report. Presenting all 44 Tom Cruise movies , ranked from worst to best.

Meet Christopher McQuarrie, wingman to Tom Cruise’s death-defying maverick

The Tao of Tom Cruise, our last action hero

cruise movies ranked

Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Tom Cruise and Ving Rhames in Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018). David James/The Associated Press

44. Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (2016): Good advice, someone should’ve heeded it.

43. Rock of Ages (2012): Puke-box musical.

42. The Mummy (2017): Denial ain’t just a franchise in Egypt.

41. Endless Love (1981): Barely a pipsqueak, Cruise’s first role is just plain squeaky.

40. Losin’ It (1983): A charmless thing starring a man of pure charm, fancy that.

39. Interview with the Vampire (1994): Dead, and not loving it.

38. The Last Samurai (2003): The Last White Saviour movie to likely get such a high budget.

37. Lions For Lambs (2007): Faux-political drama operating on slaughter-house rules.

36. Mission: Impossible 2 (2000): To John Woo, thanks for nothing.

35. All the Right Moves (1983): Perhaps Jerry Maguire could help Cruise’s NFL wannabe. Perhaps not.

34. Far and Away (1992): Ron Howard must be, but so far hasn’t been, stopped.

33. Knight and Day (2010): Right repairing with Vanilla Sky ’s Cameron Diaz, but the wrong movie.

32. Oblivion (2013): Sterile sci-fi, but it introduces Cruise to Top Gun: Maverick director Joseph Kosinski.

31. Legend (1985): Tawdry make-believe that imagines a better movie just beyond its grasp.

30. Cocktail (1988): The martini glass is half-empty. But points for Kokomo – and Toronto.

29. Valkyrie (2008): Once you adapt to his accent-less Nazi turncoat, it sorta clicks.

28. Jack Reacher (2012): Just a few inches short of a tight thriller.

27. Taps (1981): Cruise’s determination codified, if not yet quite personified.

26. The Outsiders (1983): Rare ensemble work that toughs it out.

25. Vanilla Sky (2001): Cameron Crowe and Cruise follow Jerry Maguire with a vision too heavy for even the sturdiest of eight-pound heads.

24. Tropic Thunder (2008): Timeless performance in film otherwise composed of ancient cultural artifacts.

23. The Color of Money (1986): True grit from Cruise, Paul Newman and Martin Scorsese, three of our finest hustlers.

22. Days of Thunder (1990): Inseparable from Top Gun , cementing Cruise as our Golden Boy.

21. Top Gun (1986): Ridiculous beefy silliness that breaks the sound barrier.

20. The Firm (1993): The true origins of Cruise’s running-man shtick.

19. Mission: Impossible (1996): RIP Emilio Estevez’s character, but long live Cruise’s Ethan Hunt.

cruise movies ranked

Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise in Eyes Wide Shut (1999). The Canadian Press

18. War of the Worlds (2005): Apocalyptic parenting par excellence.

17. Mission: Impossible III (2006): The resuscitation of a megafranchise, bigger and louder and Alias -er.

16. American Made (2017): All smiles, sweat and sex, delightfully absent any moral centre.

15. Rain Man (1988): No one plays the jerk-who-comes-round better.

14. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015): In Christopher McQuarrie, Cruise finds his kindred collaborator/enabler.

13. Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011): Jeremy Renner could never.

12. Edge of Tomorrow (2014): Live, die, repeatedly watch this all-killer-no-filler Groundhog Day riff.

11. Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One (2023): No movie is worth dying for, but then again ...

10. Collateral (2004): The rare villainous turn, slicked to the nines with devilish dark-night-of-the-soul fun.

9. Born on the Fourth of July (1989): The war movie no one expected from Cruise, but the war movie he had to make.

8. Magnolia (1999): In this life, it’s not what you hope for, it’s not what you deserve – it’s what you take.

cruise movies ranked

Tom Cruise and Samantha Morton in Minority Report (2002). Handout

7. A Few Good Men (1992): In which Cruise gives us the god’s honest truth, 100 per cent.

6. Risky Business (1983): Sunglasses at night, old time rock-’n’-roll charm during the day.

5. Eyes Wide Shut (1999): Revelatory work that shatters celebrity perception.

cruise movies ranked

Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick (2022). Paramount Pictures/Paramount Pictures

4. Minority Report (2002): Steven Spielberg’s finest sci-fi fantasia and Cruise’s top fugitive fantasy.

3. Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018): In which Cruise becomes immortal.

2. Jerry Maguire (1996): It’s had us at hello for a quarter-century now.

1. Top Gun: Maverick (2022): The hero American cinema needs, the hero the world deserves.

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Tom Cruise movies, ranked

By Elisha Fieldstadt

Updated on: May 25, 2021 / 5:41 PM EDT / CBS NEWS

Tom Cruise movies, ranked

Thirty-five years after the debut of the Tom Cruise classic "Top Gun," its sequel , "Top Gun: Maverick," is scheduled to arrive on November 19, 2021. 

Cruise has more action on the horizon, too: In 2022, he will reprise his role as Ethan Hunt for "Mission: Impossible 7." 

Using data from  Metacritic , we've listed every major Tom Cruise movie spanning his long career, from the worst to the very best. See where his latest flick falls on the list.

"Cocktail" (Metascore: 12)

cruise movies ranked

Cruise played a New York City bartender in the 1988 film.

The role earned him a Golden Raspberry award nomination for worst actor. 

"Legend" (Metascore: 30)

cruise movies ranked

In the 1985 fantasy film, Cruise must defeat the demonic Lord of Darkness before the world plunges into an eternal ice age. 

The Ridley Scott film also starred Mia Sara and Tim Curry.

"The Mummy" (Metascore: 34)

cruise movies ranked

This 2017 film rebooted the beloved Universal monster franchise, but critics' reviews were scathing. 

The Wall Street Journal called the film "a movie that goes beyond defying comprehension to being truly incomprehensible."

"The Outsiders" (Metascore: 41)

cruise movies ranked

Francis Ford Coppola's 1983 movie is based on S.E. Hinton's acclaimed novel.

The film featured Cruise and just about every other up-and-coming male star at the time, including Matt Dillon, Ralph Macchio, Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe and Emilio Estevez. 

"Vanilla Sky" (Metascore: 45)

cruise movies ranked

In the 2001 film, Cruise plays a man who has everything, before his face is badly disfigured in an accident. 

The psychological thriller also stars Cameron Diaz and Penélope Cruz. 

"Knight and Day" (Metascore: 46)

cruise movies ranked

Cameron Diaz and Tom Cruise reunited for this 2010 action comedy.

Diaz plays a woman who gets caught up with a secret agent (Cruise) who is on the run from the CIA.

"Jack Reacher: Never Go Back" (Metascore: 47)

cruise movies ranked

In this 2016 sequel to "Jack Reacher," Cruise's character is on a quest to uncover a government conspiracy. 

The Film Stage called the movie "harmlessly generic."

"Rock of Ages" (Metascore: 47)

cruise movies ranked

Cruise doesn't just act; he can also sing. 

He played rocker Stacee Jaxx in the 2012 screen adaption of the Broadway rock musical. 

"Lions for Lambs" (Metascore: 47)

cruise movies ranked

Cruise plays a U.S. senator and Republican presidential hopeful in this 2007 drama about the Afghan war.

The movie also stars Robert Redford and Meryl Streep. 

"Far and Away": (Metascore: 49)

cruise movies ranked

Cruise and Nicole Kidman star in this 1992 film. 

The historical epic is about two Irish immigrants seeking a new life in America in the 19th century.  

"Taps" (Metascore: 49)

cruise movies ranked

"Taps" was the actor's second-ever film role. 

Cruise plays a military student trying to save his school with the help of the other cadets. 

"Jack Reacher" (Metascore: 50)

cruise movies ranked

In the 2012 thriller, Cruise plays a former military officer investigating the murders of five people. 

The film also stars Rosamund Pike and David Oyelowo.

"Top Gun" (Metascore: 50)

cruise movies ranked

Despite mixed critical reviews, this 1986 action drama about fighter pilots was a massive commercial hit. 

The sequel is expected to hit theaters November 19, 2021.

"Losin' It" (Metascore: 51)

"Losin' It" (Metascore: 51)

In this 1983 teen comedy, Cruise plays a young man who travels with a group of friends to Tijuana, Mexico on a quest to lose their virginity.

The film also stars Jackie Earle Haley and Shelley Long.

"Oblivion" (Metascore: 54)

cruise movies ranked

In this 2013 science fiction film, Cruise plays a drone repairman with the fate of humanity in his hands. 

The film also stars Morgan Freeman.

"The Last Samurai" (Metascore: 55)

cruise movies ranked

Cruise was nominated for a Golden Globe for his role in this 2003 period drama.

In the film, he plays an American soldier who becomes an instructor in the Japanese army. 

"Valkyrie" (Metascore: 56)

cruise movies ranked

This 2008 World War II thriller concerns a plot by German officers to assassinate Adolf Hitler. 

The film also stars Kenneth Branagh and Bill Nighy.

"The Firm" (Metascore: 58)

cruise movies ranked

This 1993 thriller is based on the John Grisham novel of the same name.

Cruise plays a young lawyer who accepts a job at a prestigious law firm. But when two associates are murdered, he has to decide whether to turn informant for the FBI.

"Mission: Impossible" (Metascore: 59)

cruise movies ranked

The first film in the "Mission: Impossible" franchise was inspired by the 1960s TV series of the same name. 

In the 1996 film, Cruise plays Ethan Hunt, an agent accused of being a mole within his intelligence agency. Hunt must uncover the real double-agent to clear his name. 

"Mission Impossible II" (Metascore: 59)

cruise movies ranked

The second film in the "Mission: Impossible" franchise came out in 2000. It received the same Metascore as the first. 

Ethan Hunt in on a quest to destroy a genetically engineered biological weapon.

"Interview with the Vampire" (Metascore: 59)

cruise movies ranked

The 1994 horror flick is based on the Anne Rice novel of the same name. 

The movie also stars Brad Pitt and a young Kirsten Dunst.

"Days of Thunder" (Metascore: 60)

cruise movies ranked

Cruise plays a race car driver in this 1990 film.

"Days of Thunder" is one of three films in which he co-starred with Nicole Kidman, his wife from 1990 to 2001. 

"A Few Good Men" (Metascore: 62)

cruise movies ranked

In this 1992 Academy Award-nominated film, Cruise plays a military lawyer assigned to a murder case.

The movie also stars Jack Nicholson and Demi Moore. 

"All the Right Moves" (Metascore: 62)

cruise movies ranked

In this 1983 sports drama, Cruise plays a high-school football player hoping to get out of his small Pennsylvania town by earning a college scholarship. 

The teen sports movie also stars Craig T. Nelson and Lea Thompson.

"Rain Man" (Metascore: 65)

cruise movies ranked

In "Rain Man," Cruise plays a self-absorbed car dealer who comes home to collect the money his deceased father has left behind. When he gets there, he discovers that he has an autistic older brother (Dustin Hoffman). 

The film won an Academy Award for best picture. 

"Mission: Impossible III" (Metascore: 66)

cruise movies ranked

In the franchise's third entry from 2006, Ethan Hunt comes out of retirement to take on an evil arms dealer.

The movie also stars Philip Seymour Hoffman and Ving Rhames.

"Eyes Wide Shut" (Metascore: 68)

cruise movies ranked

Cruise and Nicole Kidman starred in Stanley Kubrick's 1999 drama about a married couple torn by jealousy and infidelity.

The film also stars Sydney Pollack and Madison Eginton.

"Edge of Tomorrow" (Metascore: 71)

cruise movies ranked

In this 2014 science fiction film, Cruise plays a soldier in a war against invading aliens. Cruise's character is forced to relive, over and over, the day he died in combat.  

The film also stars Emily Blunt and Brendan Gleeson.

"Tropic Thunder" (Metascore: 71)

cruise movies ranked

Cruise received a Golden Globe nomination for his nearly unrecognizable cameo as a volatile movie studio executive in Ben Stiller's 2008 action-comedy. 

The film also stars Robert Downey Jr., Jack Black and Jay Baruchel.

"Collateral" (Metascore: 71)

cruise movies ranked

Cruise plays an assassin opposite Jamie Foxx as a cab driver in this 2004 crime thriller. 

The film grossed $220.9 million at the box office. 

"War of the Worlds" (Metascore: 73)

cruise movies ranked

Cruise plays a father on the run during an invasion by aliens in this 2005 Steven Spielberg-directed sci-fi film. 

The film also stars Dakota Fanning and Tim Robbins.

"Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol" (Metascore: 73)

cruise movies ranked

In the 2011 installment in the "Mission: Impossible" franchise, Ethan Hunt and his team are on the hunt for a terrorist. 

The film grossed $694.7 million at the box office. 

"Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation" (Metascore: 75)

cruise movies ranked

Movie-goers love "Mission: Impossible."

In the fifth movie of the franchise, Ethan Hunt and his team go head-to-head against an international criminal consortium.

"Born on the Fourth of July" (Metascore: 75)

cruise movies ranked

Oliver Stone directed the 1989 biographical film about Vietnam War veteran Ron Kovic.

The movie was nominated for eight Academy Awards, including a best actor nomination for Cruise. 

"Risky Business" (Metascore: 75)

cruise movies ranked

Few can listen to "Old Time Rock and Roll" by Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band without thinking of this classic '80's comedy.  

Cruise plays a well-behaved high school student who lets loose when his parents leave town. 

"The Color of Money" (Metascore: 77)

cruise movies ranked

In this 1986 sequel to "The Hustler," Cruise plays a student of the craft of pool hustling. 

He's eventually pitted against his mentor, played by Paul Newman.

"Jerry Maguire" (Metascore: 77)

cruise movies ranked

Cruise, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Renée Zellweger star in this 1996 rom-com, for which he earned another Oscar nomination. 

"You complete me." Need we say more?

"Magnolia" (Metascore: 77)

cruise movies ranked

Cruise played a motivational speaker struggling to reconnect with his dying father in Paul Thomas Anderson's 1999 film.

He earned an Academy Award nomination for his role.

"Minority Report" (Metascore: 80)

cruise movies ranked

The 2002 Steven Spielberg movie is based on a Philip K. Dick story. 

In the futuristic film, police-officer Cruise faces a world where crimes can be predicted before they are committed. 

"Mission: Impossible - Fallout" (Metascore: 86)

cruise movies ranked

Yes, really! 

According to critics, the best Tom Cruise movie to date is also his latest — the action flick that brings back the indomitable Ethan Hunt.

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Flyboy fun: Tom Cruise in Top Gun.

The top 20 Tom Cruise movies – ranked!

As the actor returns with Mission: Impossible – Fallout, we rank his 20 best films, from 1983’s The Outsiders to 2008’s Tropic Thunder

20. Far and Away (1992)

It was a toss-up between this and Vanilla Sky for the 20th spot, and Far and Away just nudged it because it is – admittedly not intentionally – hilarious, while the latter is a mega downer. No movie accent will ever give me as much joy as Cruise’s Irish accent.

19. War of the Worlds (2005)

Not a disaster, but nowhere near as good as a Spielberg-Cruise adaptation of HG Wells’ tale should have been. Cruise, deep into his publicly eccentric years, plays a divorced dad just trying to do right by his kids while fighting alien invaders, but comes across more alien than the invaders.

18. Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

This film was supposed to be exciting because we kinda, sorta, maybe got to see Cruise and his then wife, Nicole Kidman, have sex, but a major flaw in that sales pitch is no one wanted to. Including, it turned out, them. Their marriage fell apart soon after the making of this film and some of us are still unconvinced it was worth the marriage.

17. Days of Thunder (1990)

It’s Top Gun – in a car. And nowhere near as good. This film is best known as the one in which Cruise and Kidman met. But it should be celebrated for giving Cruise’s character the name of Cole Trickle. For not laughing hysterically every time they say his name, everyone in this film deserves an Oscar.

16. All the Right Moves (1983)

No one watches this movie now. But they should. Babyfaced and clearly vertically challenged, Cruise plays the most unlikely American football player ever committed to film, but even in the early days of his career, his charisma was undeniable. Unexpectedly gritty and with lovely support from Craig T Nelson.

15. The Firm (1993)

Gosh, who should we get to play the young lawyer, full of morals and ambition, who suddenly finds himself in a bad world filled with bad men? John Grisham may not have written the part with Cruise in mind, but whichever Thetan Cruise worships made him for thismovie.

Cruise in Cocktail.

14. Interview With the Vampire (1994)

Eat me, haterz: people who criticise this film have no sense of fun. Cruise is enjoyably weird as Lestat de Lioncourt, the ultimate vampire. The real problem with this movie is Brad Pitt, who takes it all way too seriously. Cruise understands this is not a drama – it’s a camp delight.

13. Cocktail (1988)

Frankly, if you don’t enjoy the sight of Cruise slinging rum cocktails on a beach to a Beach Boys soundtrack, then please march yourself to a doctor immediately because you have lost your soul.

12. The Colour of Money (1986)

Grizzled Paul Newman, rehashing his role from The Hustler, hands the matinee idol baton here to a young and twinkly-eyed Cruise. It is hard not to die a little inside when you look at Cruise’s pretty face and think of the weird life choices he would go on to make; a babe heading off into the dark woods.

11. Tropic Thunder (2008)

A bit of a cheat this, yes, as Cruise is barely in the movie. But, his performance as the deranged studio executive Les Grossman was so good it saved his career after all the sofa jumping and Scientology bullshittery. Some of us have never really recovered from the sight of a bald Cruise grooving to Flo Rida.

10. Collateral (2004)

Probably not a movie that Cruise kicks back and watches in his spare time, given that his ex-wife, Katie Holmes, is now dating his co-star, Jamie Foxx. Still, that shouldn’t distract the rest of us from enjoying Cruise playing memorably against type as a killer and Foxx as the cabby he hires for the evening. It does distract a little, mind.

9. Rain Man (1988)

Hear me out: Cruise should have got the Oscar for this instead of Dustin Hoffman. Hoffman’s performance is all tricks and tics, but Cruise, as the obnoxious jerk who learns he has a brother, is subtle and true. Setting the pattern for his career, Cruise was underrated because he made it look effortless.

8. Minority Report (2002)

Cruise and Spielberg should, by rights, be as natural a combination as bread and butter, and yet Minority Report is the only truly satisfying movie they have made together.

7. The Outsiders (1983)

Playing a working-class teenager in Oklahoma alongside then fellow near-unknowns Rob Lowe, Patrick Swayze, Ralph Macchio, Emilio Estevez, Diane Lane and Matt Dillon (someone give that casting director a medal), Cruise his a small but pleasing role in this, the most beautiful of all 80s teen movies.

6. Jerry Maguire (1996)

Cameron Crowe wrote this role of the beaten-down sports agent for the other Tom – Hanks – and the movie probably would have made more sense with him: Cruise is just too good-looking to be a credible underdog. But, he seizes the part with irresistible intensity, making even the naffest of Crowe’s lines sound heartfelt.

Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt in Mission: Impossible.

5. Mission: Impossible (1996)

The film that, for better or worse, confirmed Cruise as the action star of his generation, and while that means he has churned out a lot of action landfill for the past decade, the original Mission: Impossible , directed by Brian De Palma, is a stone-cold classic. Somewhere, in all of our hearts, Cruise will be forever suspended on that zip wire.

4. Born on the Fourth of July (1989)

It is Cruise’s misfortune that his one real shot at an Oscar – before the Scientology weirdness ruled him out for ever – coincided with the year of Daniel Day-Lewis’s unbeatable performance in My Left Foot. His performance as a Vietnam vet is the definitive retort to any fool who insists he is a movie star, not an actor.

3. A Few Good Men (1992)

Pure cinematic pleasure. Cruise is known as a screen-chewer, but it is too rarely acknowledged how good he is at playing second fiddle to a true ham: Hoffman in Rain Man and Jack Nicholson here. “I want the truth!” is Cruise at his Cruisiest, and there ain’t nothing wrong with that.

2. Magnolia (1999)

One of three performances for which Cruise should have won an Oscar. Heretofore seen as almost asexual, Cruise is astonishing as TJ Mackie, the men’s rights activist guru with the catchphrase “Respect the cock!” No one could have imagined him in this role before. It’s now impossible to imagine anyone else playing it.

1. Top Gun (1986)

Risky Business made Cruise famous, but it’s a terrible movie. Top Gun, on the other hand, made him a legend, and it remains one of the greatest movies of all time. Cruise, playing “a flyboy”, took to the film’s endearingly overt homoeroticism like a natural. The volleyball scene put a generation through puberty.

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Screen Rant

Every tom cruise movie ranked worst to best.

Tom Cruise has been one of the world's biggest movie stars for decades, but how do his films stack up against one another? Here's each one, ranked.

Tom Cruise is one of the biggest movie stars on the planet, but how do his films rank from worst to best? In the current age of celebrity and Hollywood, it could be argued that true A-List movie stars don't really exist anymore. With big-budget studio tentpoles defined more by their intellectual property than the actors starring in them, there are very few figures in the film industry who can make a movie a major hit based on their name alone. Most of the notable names from the past few decades have either seen their box office power wane, like Will Smith, or chosen to step away from blockbuster titles in favor of character-driven indie work, as is the case with Brad Pitt . A notable exception to this new way of life in Hollywood is Tom Cruise.

Thomas Cruise Mapother IV is an undisputed megastar. Over the course of close to 40 years, the actor has strengthened his status not only as one of the most famous men on the planet but as an enduring commercial and critical force, the likes of which Hollywood doesn't produce anymore. He got his start in bit parts and ensemble pieces but was quickly launched into the upper echelons of fame with a string of major hits that garnered him awards recognition and record-breaking box office power. Throughout the 1990s, he was utterly untouchable, an actor whose name could guarantee big profits and the avid attention of audiences around the world. Even as he established himself as a growing blockbuster force, he still picked up no fewer than three Oscar nominations. All that and he was one half of a tabloid-friendly power couple thanks to his marriage to Nicole Kidman.

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By the mid-2000s, Cruise’s reputation had taken a beating. He became more publicly vocal about his dedication to the deeply controversial Church of Scientology, he lambasted psychiatry and actress Brooke Shields for using anti-depressants in interviews, and his awkward public displays of affection with new wife Katie Holmes provided the media with much fodder for mockery. Suddenly, Cruise was seen as weird, an off-kilter celebrity out-of-touch with the masses, and he became more well-known for jumping on Oprah’s couch than his movie roles. While Cruise will never regain the gleaming reputation he had in his prime, he has become more accepted by audiences as he leans further into his on-screen persona as a near-invincible force. While he’s notably stepped away from those prestige roles that made him a critics’ favorite, his focus on higher-than-high-concept action titles wherein he performs his own stunts have kept him in the public eye and won over a new legion of fans. At the age of 58, Cruise has remodeled himself into the era’s most daring action star. Here's every Tom Cruise movie , ranked.

42. The Mummy

The Dark Universe remains one of the 2010s most hilariously misguided Hollywood experiments. Universal’s attempt to relaunch their iconic monsters franchise as a Marvel-style expanded blockbuster universe crashed and burned with its first movie, The Mummy . The film tried to blend pulpy action-horror with the now-familiar Tom Cruise model of dramatic stunts and lots of running. The end result was an utterly baffling film that would have been unintentionally hilarious if it weren’t so bloated and boring. The dreary gray color palette combined with derivative plotting and an exhausting attempt to establish a multi-movie franchise that nobody cared about is a ridiculously expensive folly that nobody seemed to think was a good idea. Cruise is also bad as the bland leading man and the film breaks into pieces when it tries to bend to suit his persona. The Mummy had no business being a Tom Cruise movie in more ways than one, and it sank Universal’s expanded universe dreams.

41. Lions for Lambs

Long before anyone ever saw 2007's Lions for Lambs , the movie was decreed an Oscar winner in the making. How could it not be when it starred Cruise alongside Meryl Streep and Robert Redford, the latter of whom also sat in the director's chair? It seemed like an important movie, a stirring political drama about the futility of America's ongoing war in the Middle East. Instead, audiences got an overly-talky civics class that said a lot but nothing of substance. Built more like a play than a movie, Lions for Lambs features a handful of people having long and evidently rehearsed conversations that wouldn't feel out of place on Meet the Press . It’s one thing to preach to the choir but it’s another thing to do it so ineptly. Lions for Lambs ends up feeling like a parody of bad Oscar bait.

40. Endless Love

Cruise made his feature debut in a small role in 1981’s Endless Love , a romantic drama directed by the legendary Franco Zeffirelli that's now become something of a pop-culture punching bag thanks to its tawdry plot and cheesy theme song sung by Diana Ross and Lionel Richie. The movie infamously botches the Scott Spencer novel it's adapted from, turning the book's story of bleak obsession into a trite teen romance that paints stalking as an act of passion. The only saving grace of the movie is James Spader bringing all his '80s sleazy charm to a pointless supporting role. Even Cruise completionists would be excused for skipping this one.

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39. Losin’ It

Before he made his iconic sex comedy, Risky Business , Cruise starred in the far less acclaimed Losin' It , wherein he played a 1950s teenager who goes on a road trip to Tijuana with his friends to lose their virginity. While it is fascinating to see Cruise alongside a young Shelley Long and Jackie Earle Haley, Losin’ It does nothing that a hundred other ‘80s sex comedies didn’t do better.

38. Far and Away  

Tom Cruise and  Nicole Kidman were sorely miscast as poor Irish immigrants who move to America to seek their fortune and end up participating in the Cherokee Strip Land Run of 1893. While Far and Away is certainly handsomely shot and director Ron Howard is aiming hard for old-school melodrama akin to 1940s John Ford movies, it's all too simplistically drawn and lacking in depth to truly work. It doesn't help that both Cruise and Kidman are saddled with some of the worst Irish accents committed to celluloid. Cruise would prove himself in far better roles as an actor but it's tough to escape how he simply looks too clean-cut and heroic for a role like this.

37. Cocktail

1988's Cocktail is the pre-requisite Bad Tom Cruise Movie. Lambasted upon release but still a huge commercial success, the movie saw Cruise shaking up a lot of unappetizing-looking cocktails while romancing Elizabeth Shue. It may be the most '80s movie ever made and it has its bad-movie charms, but those contemporary critics weren't lying about its overall emptiness. The original screenplay reportedly changed drastically when Cruise came onboard, changing from a bleak drama about the cult of celebrity into the very thing it was deriding. It's a shame because Cruise was clearly capable of pulling off the story's original intentions.

36. Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

Cruise was always a strange choice to play Jack Reacher , Lee Child’s popular literary hero. In the novels, Reacher, a former military officer turned vigilante drifter, is described as being 6 foot 5 inches tall, possessing hands the size of dinner plates, and a face that looks like a "condom crammed with walnuts." Still, Cruise's first outing as the character did well enough to warrant a sequel but Never Go Back is so painfully one-note and such a step down from its predecessor that it's no wonder the burgeoning franchise came to a halt. For a movie with a reported budget of $96 million, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back looks oddly cheap, like a bargain bin thriller you'd find in a video rental store in 1997.

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Only the second movie on Cruise's filmography, Taps follows a group of military school students who take over the building to save it from closure. It's easy to see how this concept could have been twisted into an Animal House -style comedy but Taps takes itself far too seriously and spends a lot of time talking about honor and what it means to be a hero, none of which ends up being very effective. There's some novelty in seeing Cruise essentially play the Kevin Bacon character in Animal House if he had access to hard ammo, but this one is an easy skip for Cruise fans.

A year before he became an action megastar with Top Gun , Cruise starred in Legend , Ridley Scott 's attempt to do for cinematic fantasy what Blade Runner did for science-fiction. While the movie has its cult fanbase and can be legitimately lauded for its visuals, the paper-thin story and bland lead characters leave the final product to be far less as a whole than the sum of its parts. This is Cruise at his whiniest, not yet the charismatic figure he would evolve into over the coming years, and he doesn't have the charm or commitment yet required to make an admittedly tough character feel alive. He's blasted off the screen by the magnetism of Tim Curry as the devil.

33. All the Right Moves

Another early title in his filmography, Cruise got solid but unspectacular reviews for his performance as a high school football player trying to earn his way to a scholarship so he can escape his economically deprived small hometown and the dead-end jobs of his father and brother. Richard Corliss of Time  (via Metacritic ) described the film as trying "to prove itself the Flashdance of football." It's a surprisingly perfect description of what is ultimately a cliché-addled pseudo-inspirational drama that continues to be a dime a dozen in Hollywood.

32. Rock of Ages

The long-running Broadway musical Rock of Ages is the theatrical equivalent of a boozy karaoke session in an '80s-themed bar, which is where its bawdy, self-aware charm lies. The 2012 film adaptation possesses none of that cheesy allure. Its transfer to the big screen feels tone-deaf and lifeless thanks to predictable directorial choices by Adam Shankman. What feels charming on-stage lands with a thud on film, especially given how few of the major stars seem capable of singing these classic rock numbers. Cruise is actually really fun in the role of the lead Rockstar, even if his crooning leaves something to be desired. Whenever he's on-screen, it's refreshing to see the infamously intense actor let loose and enjoy himself.

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31. The Color of Money

While Cruise shared top billing in The Color of Money , the film is undeniably a star vehicle for his co-star, the legendary Paul Newman , who reprised his role as Fast Eddie Felson from The Hustler . The movie mostly existed to finally won Newman his long-awaited Oscar, and everyone involved seemed to understand that. Despite having Martin Scorsese on board as a director, the film feels highly by-the-numbers, despite Newman’s endless charisma, the likes of which Cruise would heavily borrow from as his own career progressed.

30. Days of Thunder

The premiere of Days of Thunder was intended to be a very big deal. Cruise was reuniting with Top Gun director Tony Scott and that movie's mega-powered producer duo Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer, and this was the movie where Cruise met Nicole Kidman. The film wasn't the commercial record-breaker they hoped it would be, but Days of Thunder did inadvertently establish the creation of Roger Ebert 's formula for The Tom Cruise Picture. In that sense, despite its failings – overtly-saccharine narrative, bad dialogue, derivative pot – the film is pivotal in Cruise’s evolution as a star. Days of Thunder is best enjoyed as a time capsule not only of 1990 – including music by the lead singer of Whitesnake – but of an era of cinema that stood on the precipice of immense change, a lot of which would be led by Cruise himself.

29. Vanilla Sky

It says something about Cruise’s commercial power in 2001 that he could star in a remake of a trippy Spanish sci-fi thriller that received mediocre reviews and still have it gross over $200 million worldwide. Vanilla Sky is nowhere near as good as the film it's adapted from, Abre los Ojos , but it's also too thematically jumbled to stand on its own two feet. You can't fault director Cameron Crowe's ambition but his reach greatly exceeds his grasp, even with a strong cast that includes a scene-stealing Cameron Diaz. The film does possess some astounding moments, however, such as the still-unnerving sight of a deserted Times Square.

28. Mission: Impossible 2

While it was still the highest-grossing movie of 2000, the second installment of the Mission: Impossible franchise is easily the series' weak spot. Director John Woo brings a lot of his typical bombast to the project, which fits with the self-aware absurdity of these films, but M:I2 is an emptier experience than what came before and after. Dougray Scott is the franchise's least threatening villain by far and while the action remains impressive, there’s nothing else in the movie to keep it tethered. All that and it features music by Limp Bizkit.

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27. Knight and Day

2010's Knight and Day takes every turn you expect it to. It's the cinematic equivalent of candy floss: Fun but utterly frivolous, even with Cruise giving it his all as a vaguely demented secret agent on the run from the CIA. It's aiming for the rom-com crime caper tone of something like Charade or Romancing the Stone but Cruise's chemistry with Cameron Diaz works better in purely platonic terms. There are thrills to be had here and director James Mangold can make movies like this in his sleep, but there's nothing particularly unique or intriguing about Knight and Day , especially when you compare it to the plethora of better movies in Cruise's filmography that follow similar lines.

26. Oblivion

In terms of pure aesthetic, Oblivion is a marvel. That's no surprise given that the director, Joseph Kosinski, made his debut with the equally visually lavish TRON: Legacy . Its view of a future Earth devastated by an alien war, almost bleached white by the distress, is one that looks gorgeous in practically every scene. Aside from that, however, the film itself is a much weaker affair. It's overall still extremely enjoyable and there's real merit in Cruise working on a wholly original sci-fi movie at a time when franchises are king. When it takes a step away from being just another Hollywood movie, Oblivion comes alive, but it doesn't happen anywhere near enough throughout its two-hour running time.

25. Valkyrie

Cruise's casting as Wehrmacht Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, one of the leading members of the failed 20 July plot of 1944 to assassinate Hitler, in Bryan Singer's Valkyrie was met with major controversy. While he did bear a strong resemblance to the Colonel, he still felt too classically American for the part. It's hard to forget that you're watching Tom Cruise, even though the rest of the film remains compelling and smoothly constructed, helped along by a sturdy cast that includes Bill Nighy, Kenneth Branagh , Carice van Houten, and Eddie Izzard.

24. Tropic Thunder

After his pro-Scientology crusades saw his public reputation take a beating, Cruise scraped back some much-needed goodwill by taking a small but hilarious role in Ben Stiller's Tropic Thunder . With a heavy paunch and tacky combover, Cruise has a ball as Les Grossman, a sleazy studio executive who more than lives up to his name. The best moments of the movie come when it mercilessly lampoons the worst excesses of Hollywood and the gargantuan egos who run it, but all too often the film gets overwhelmed by its big-budget and need to show the money on-screen at every possible moment.

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23. Jack Reacher

Despite his obvious miscasting, Cruise made his first appearance as Jack Reacher work thanks to a combination of grit, focus, and a willingness to drastically decrease his own charm. Still, it's hard to overcome how much of an ill fit Cruise is for Reacher, even though he's working overtime to make it happen. At least the surrounding drama is exciting enough, with none other than legendary director Werner Herzog paying a fascinating villain.

22. Mission: Impossible III

With 2006's Mission: Impossible III , the franchise seemed to be entering into a solid formula that it could milk for endless future installments. The action is bombastic, the plotting absurd, and Ethan Hunt's expanded narrative gives him room for some much-needed emotional drive. Contemporary criticisms said the movie felt stale in the aftermath of the burgeoning popularity of Jason Bourne and the James Bond reboot, but in hindsight, that feels unfair to MI:3 . Cruise's confidence in the lead role is striking and the inclusion of a truly unnerving Philip Seymour Hoffman as the latest villain elevates the film above its immediate predecessor. Things, however, only got better from this point on for the franchise.

21. The Firm

In the '90s, adaptations of John Grisham's legal thrillers became hot currency in Hollywood, and 1993's The Firm was a key part in making that trend happen. Cruise plays Mitch McDeere, a promising Harvard-educated tax lawyer with boatloads of ambition who dreams of working on Wall Street and making his fortune. Those plans are complicated when he uncovers evidence of mass tax fraud and money laundering that involves one of the deadliest crime families in America. The Firm is the sort of sturdy, classic studio courtroom thrillers that the industry doesn't bother to make anymore (or leaves to TV procedurals like Law and Order .) The leading role is such a natural fit for Cruise, who radiates a level of golden age leading-man energy that became his bread and butter as a movie-star. He's sincere but cocky, driven but with an undeniable strain of idealism despite his initial cynicism.

20. The Last Samurai

It's near-impossible nowadays for historical dramas to be given the big-budget star-vehicle treatment, so there's something almost classically appealing about seeing Cruise headline 2003's The Last Samurai , a handsomely mounted tale of a United States captain hired to help wipe out the Samurai who ends up changing sides amid the westernization of Japan. Director Ed Zwick tries to find more nuanced ground for his film than past American depictions of historical Japan, and he does shoot some beautifully composed action scenes. The attention to aesthetic detail is especially breath-taking, as is the Oscar-nominated performance of Ken Watanabe. Still, the film struggles to escape its deeply-embedded socio-cultural context, falling prey to the White Savior trope as well as an overtly-romantic take on the Samurai that many Japanese critics took issue with.

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19. American Made

Doug Liman's American Made was an attempt to blend together a gritty 1970s-style anti-hero drama with the typical flash-bang of a Tom Cruise movie . It surprisingly works. Cruise plays Barry Seal, a commercial airline pilot who became a drug smuggler for a major Colombian cartel. Cruise has long stopped even trying to downplay his star power for whatever role he is in and instead adheres the material to his inimitable force of personality, and it proves to be a striking fit for American Made , where his enduring boyish charm plays well against the coke-addled desperation of a man who has gotten in way over his head.

18. Mission: Impossible

It’s doubtful that anyone involved with the long-awaited big-screen remake of the classic ‘60s spy series Mission: Impossible knew what a bright and surprisingly enduring legacy it would leave behind. At the time, the film was simply another way for Cruise to flex his A-List muscles and bring to life a show he loved as a kid. In comparison to what would follow, Brian De Palma's film is a much smaller scale espionage drama, with the biggest thrills coming from micro-moments, like a drop of sweat or a fish tank. It's the most traditional thriller in the bunch, with a healthy helping of red herrings, misdirection, and endless double-crossing, but it’s also suitably bonkers, as evidenced by that final chase involving a train and a helicopter.

17. War of the Worlds

It was a stroke of genius for Steven Spielberg to cast Cruise as the everyman in his adaptation of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds . Even when he’s the biggest star on the planet at the peak of his fame, he manages to feel achingly real as a single dad whose disconnection from his kids is heightened during an alien invasion. He’s no hero with a plan and he doesn’t save the day. He just needs to survive, even if that means tossing aside one’s better judgment. War of the Worlds remains one of the 2000s’ best depictions of post-9/11 paranoia in American society and provides a devastatingly sharp commentary on the ultimate futility of the then-ongoing War on Terror. Sadly, it fails to stick the landing and that disappointment continues to be one of the darker spots in Spielberg’s filmography.

16. A Few Good Men

Rob Reiner's adaptation of the play by a pre- West Wing Aaron Sorkin is now the stuff of pop-culture parody thanks to endlessly quoted moments like, "You can't handle the truth." The many mocked moments of A Few Good Men do nothing to quash its sheer verve, especially on the screenplay level. Cruise and Jack Nicholson are a fiery duo facing up one another in the courtroom. It's a simple story told incredibly well and it lingers long in the imagination even after the pithy one-liners have been driven into the ground. Cruise is such a good fit for this style of spitfire dialogue that you can’t help but wonder why he doesn’t do movies like this more often.

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15. Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol

By the time the Mission: Impossible franchise expanded beyond a trilogy, Cruise and company seemed all too ready to turn their tried-and-tested formula all the way up to eleven. In terms of unadulterated spectacle, Ghost Protocol signaled a new age of Mission: Impossible , one of such scale and ambition that you couldn't help but wonder how the hell Cruise was getting away with it. Cruise scaling the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, is maybe the perfect franchise moment: Unbearably tense, hugely impressive on a technical level, and still enjoyably silly, with Cruise bring some much-appreciated harried energy to his increasingly invincible Ethan Hunt.

14. The Outsiders

Cruise has been heavily defined throughout his career by his slick and polished persona, so it remains something of a surprise to see him looking so rough around the edges and barely ready for primetime in The Outsiders . Based on the novel by S.E. Hinton, published when the author was 18 years old, and directed by Francis Ford Coppola , the drama about a group of tough teens from the wrong side of the tracks featured a veritable murderer's row of hot young talent: Cruise, Matt Dillon, Rob Lowe, Patrick Swayze, and Emilio Estevez, to name but a few. Cruise stands out in a small role and it's probably one of the last moments in his career where he could get away with playing this sort of street rat character. The film as a whole is a stellar adaptation of the novel, capturing the naturalistic approach to the narrative as well as the ways that young people interacted with one another during that time. It's certainly one of Coppola's more underrated efforts.

13. Rain Man

Dustin Hoffman may have the juicier role in this drama about a huckster and his autistic savant brother that gobbled up all the Oscars that year, but in hindsight, it’s Cruise who has the much tougher part to play. As Charlie Babbitt, the selfish jerk who repeatedly manipulates his brother and forces him into various schemes, Cruise has to tread an extremely taught tightrope between callous and cool. He's a desperate man fuelled by anger and resentment who has to learn how to care for someone other than himself. In the wrong hands, Rain Man would have become something far more saccharine or unbalanced. As it is, the pure force of the Cruise-Hoffman double team brings real humanity to this now-overtly-familiar style of drama. Cruise had proven himself before as a dramatic actor but Rain Man showed he could pull it off while still remaining a top-grade movie-star.

12. Jerry Maguire

Released the same year as the first Mission: Impossible film, the one-two punch of that and Cameron Crowe's Jerry Maguire made 1996 feel like the official crowning of Cruise as King of Hollywood. This is as close as Cruise got to making a traditional romantic comedy and he excels in the role of the charm-ridden sports agent who gains a conscience and tries to strike it out on his own, accompanied only by his star client and the luminescent Renée Zellweger . Cruise is truly hilarious as a guy who is so used to skating through life on pure charisma but now is constantly on the verge of losing it as he tries to scrape together a new life and career. Cameron Crowe never really topped this film (although Almost Famous came close) and Cruise was seldom this loveable again.

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11. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

One of Cruise's most important collaborative relationships has been with writer-director Christopher McQuarrie, who Cruise first worked with on Valkyrie . McQuarrie did a number of uncredited rewrites on Ghost Protocol before stepping in to direct its sequel. To date, he's the only director to have made more than one Mission: Impossible movie, a notable change of pace for a franchise that was becoming increasingly defined by its willingness to change up filmmakers with each new movie. Clearly, Cruise and McQuarrie get one another when it comes to the continuing escapades of Ethan Hunt. Rogue Nation , number five in the series, ups the character work, develops the core ensemble further, and is so jam-packed with showstopping moments that could have easily filled out a few more movies. The opera house scene is a real standout, in large part thanks to the introduction of Rebecca Ferguson as a femme fatale with a twist. With Rogue Nation , it felt like the franchise had reached a new peak. Little did fans know that the best was yet to come.

10. Minority Report

Cruise’s first collaboration with Spielberg seems like pretty typical fare for both of them on the surface: A high-concept action thriller with plenty of opportunities for twists, turns, and set-pieces to astound. Minority Report , however, is a far more slippery creature, a fascinatingly paranoid sci-fi tale of free will versus determinism that sharply captures the endless constraints of living in a world of ceaseless surveillance and an overpowered police force. Cruise gets a chance to bring more tragic layers to his traditional action hero arc (and he runs a lot, which is always exciting) and Samantha Morton offers one of the most interesting and overlooked performances in any Spielberg movie.

9. Risky Business

The film that fully introduced Cruise to the masses, Risky Business is one of the best of the long line of sex comedies that permeated the landscape of 1980s pop culture. It’s not hard to see why the movie launched Cruise into the upper echelons of Hollywood. As the promising student turned entrepreneur-slash-pimp, he’s devastatingly charming in a way that only teenage boys in the movies get to be. His transformation into the kind of guy who turns his family home into a brothel is a sly satire of the burgeoning “greed is good” culture that would come to wholly define the ‘80s. Risky Business remains deeply problematic – its portrayal of trans women and sex workers is, to put it mildly, of its time – but in terms of pure importance in Cruise’s career narrative, it’s impossible to overlook. Few moments define Cruise as a megastar as much as him sliding into the room in his briefs and open shirt as he mimes to "Old Time Rock and Roll."

8. Magnolia

While even director Paul Thomas Anderson now admits that 1999's Magnolia is too long - and it does try even avid PTA fans' patience at a gargantuan 188 minutes - it remains a startling masterpiece of ambition and emotion. Near-operatic in scale, this mosaic story of interconnected characters searching for meaning in their lives veers between classic Hollywood melodrama and biblical allegory in ways that only Anderson at his cockiest could ever pull off. Cruise plays Frank T.J. Mackey, a pickup artist whose stirring yet deeply misogynist speeches rile up the men he's selling his methods to. His profanity-laden introductory speech is one of Cruise's best moments as an actor, and it's made all the better by the contrast of him slowly breaking down into just another guy struggling to deal with his daddy issues.

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7. Collateral

Cruise plays a lot of heroes and he's done more than his fair share of anti-heroes but when it comes to full-blown villains, those are much harder to find in his filmography. That's a shame because Michael Mann 's Collateral , which sees him playing a cold-hearted hitman, offers him one of his meatiest roles to date. Few directors make L.A. noirs as skilfully as Mann and Collateral is one that feels familiar yet utterly alien as Jamie Foxx drives his cab through the city helping to aid Cruise’s plan. Cruise and Foxx are electric together and their cat-and-mouse game makes for the film’s most effective thrills. It’s not on the level of Heat , Mann’s masterpiece, but Collateral is similarly excellent in how it rejuvenates what could have been a retread of a dozen other stories of similar plots into a fresh and unnerving final product.

6. Interview With the Vampire

When Cruise was announced as one of the two leads in the long-awaited adaptation of the first book in Anne Rice’s wildly influential Vampire Chronicles, fans revolted at what was seen as an egregious example of Hollywood miscasting. Even Rice herself publicly lambasted the choice. She’s not wrong: In practically every way, Cruise is wrong for the role of Lestat, and yet he’s also kind of brilliant in the final product. Despite it all, he is perfect as the smarmy brat prince of the vampires in Neil Jordan’s sumptuous imagining of Rice’s deeply passionate book. The film manages to be almost as opulent as the novel, glorying in the heightened emotional and stylistic frenzy of this story of vampires grappling with the mystery of eternal life. What makes the film sing is Cruise’s savvy understanding of Lestat himself: He’s a cruel imp of a man but one whose zest for life is contagious, even as he murders with impunity and dances with the corpse. It’s a shame we never got to see him reprise the role for the follow-up novels.

5. Edge of Tomorrow

For an actor so heavily defined by their coolness and unflappable action prowess, Cruise is at his most appealing when he’s playing men who seem constantly baffled by their surroundings . Edge of Tomorrow is the most thrilling and hilarious version of this trope, with Cruise playing a soldier forced to live (and die) the same day over and over while he tries to figure out why he’s stuck in this aggravating time loop. It’s amazing how much humor and inventiveness is mined from this repetition, and Cruise is ably matched with Emily Blunt, who plays one of the best action heroines of the past decade. It’s delightful to see Blunt play the stoic hard-bitten war hero while Cruise is the clumsy coward who constantly needs saving (or a bullet to the head.)

It’s easy to critique the faults of Top Gun , the movie that cemented Cruise’s status as the star of the moment and the foreseeable future. Is it cheesy? Of course, but director Tony Scott is full-throated in his commitment to this high-octane story of male bonding against the backdrop of the endlessly competitive culture of the American military. It's a rare movie that celebrates its peacock-strutting and deeply sexualized version of masculinity without ever descending into gaudy misogyny, and Cruise’s romance with Kelly McGillis is one of the most chemistry-laden pairings in his career. All those cheesier moments now feel like a glorious time capsule of self-aware enjoyment, including those giddily homoerotic volleyball games set to Kenny Loggins singing "Playing with the Boys." That one-two-three punch of Scott, Don Simpson, and Jerry Bruckheimer would go on to wholly redefine the face of '80s cinema in a way that resonates even in 2020. The aerial scenes alone remain electrifying. There's a reason that, almost 25 years later, Cruise was so keen to return to Maverick for the upcoming Top Gun sequel. They don't make them like this anymore, but perhaps Top Gun: Maverick can make lightning strike twice.

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3. Eyes Wide Shut

Contemporary critics of Stanley Kubrick ’s final film seemed almost disappointed that Eyes Wide Shut wasn’t a more evidently lurid erotic drama or, at the very least, thinly veiled Cruise/Kidman fanfiction. Many derided it as cold and disappointingly unsexy, seemingly forgetting that this detached and obtuse approach to the subject of relationships and obsession was the entire point. In the context of Cruise’s mighty career, it feels especially intriguing. It’s a level of creative and personal boldness he seldom strives for with his work these days, although you can't blame him for not wanting to repeat the drama of making Eyes Wide Shut (the shoot was notoriously over 400 days long). Even at a languidly paced 159 minutes running time, Kubrick maintains an icy unease that is at turns primal and clinical. Rare for a Hollywood movie on this scale and with such major actors in the lead role, this is a movie that takes sex completely seriously. Even then, it’s less about sex than it is about power, and the near-mythic accruement of power at that. Critics have since come around on Eyes Wide Shut and now appreciate it for the obvious masterpiece that it is.

2. Born on the Fourth of July

Cruise earned the first of his three Oscar nominations thanks to his transformative turn as Ron Kovic in Oliver Stone's stirring biographical drama Born on the Fourth of July . Kovic, a former Vietnam veteran turned anti-war activist, is brought to life by Cruise in his best dramatic performance. He's impassioned, angry, and often agonizing to watch in his depiction of a man who goes from idealistic patriot to furious veteran to righteous campaigner tormented by his past. As is befitting a Stone movie, it's a fiercely political affair but one that never sacrifices its humanity in favor of histrionics. Stone strips bare the myth of war as a glorious act by showing not only its barbaric reality but the glistening fantasy sold to naïve young men by a crooked political system. Cruise has historically played it safe as a movie star, a couple of notable exceptions aside, but this remains his bravest most radical project, having lost none of its potency in the three decades since its release.

1. Mission: Impossible – Fallout

The sixth and, as of the writing of this piece, most recent Mission: Impossible movie feels like the culmination not only of 25 years of this franchise but of 40 years of Tom Cruise’s acting career. Everything just works in Fallout , the entire operation running with the detail and sophistication of a Swiss watch. Despite the bar being set dizzyingly high by Rogue Nation , the action set-pieces are even more mind-boggling here. Not a moment of the movie is wasted and it retains its wit and vibrancy even after five films and all these years of changes. Cruise himself is on unbeatable form, bringing a dash of agitated humanity to Ethan Hunt and warmth in his banter with his now firmly established team. It’s not just that Mission: Impossible – Fallout is the best Tom Cruise movie, the epitome of what he stands for and why people still love him despite all the drama: It may be one of the best action films ever made.

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The 10 best Tom Cruise movies, ranked

Tom cruise is still providing great movies almost four decades into his career.

Shawn Laib

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.

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10. Jack Reacher (2012)

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.

9. Vanilla Sky (2001)

8. the firm (1993), 7. war of the worlds (2005).

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.

6. Tropic Thunder (2008)

5. born on the fourth of july (1989), 4. mission: impossible - rogue nation (2015), 3. top gun: maverick (2022).

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.

2. Jerry Maguire (1996)

1. rain man (1988), editors' recommendations.

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Shawn Laib

When computer company Apple announced that it was getting into the streaming TV game, there were plenty of people who were skeptical about the company's ability to pull it off. Why would the tech giant, which is most known for the Macintosh and the iPhone, have any credibility in making television shows? It doesn't seem the two ideas would mesh in any meaningful way, but in the years since Apple TV Plus launched, the company has come up with some pretty impressive original shows, and it picked up a Best Picture Oscar on top of that. What's even more impressive is that these Apple TV shows and movies run the gamut from comedy to drama, and are all set in wildly different and imaginative places. Apple may be best known for making great phones, but it turns out it knows how to tell pretty interesting stories, too. These Apple TV movies and shows are the cream of the crop and the best on this streaming service. If you're looking for more great stuff to stream, you should also check out our lists of the best shows on Netflix, the best shows on Hulu, and the best shows on Disney Plus.

The Morning Show (2019)

Even if you've picked a streaming service, it can be impossible to narrow down what you're really looking for. If you've run out of the best Netflix movies and Netflix original series to watch, you'll need to find somewhere else to turn. Fortunately, Netflix is far from the only game in town. Anyone who uses Amazon Prime to get packages delivered to them quickly also has access to a library of fairly impressive shows and movies.

If you're looking for your next series to binge, and you already have Amazon anyway, then we've got a list of the best shows on Amazon Prime well worth you're time. We've broken down the best Amazon Prime shows to start with below, with entries that range from sprawling sci-fi to touching, grounded comedies.

Although it's now only one big player in an even bigger streaming market, Netflix still manages to crank out plenty of stuff to keep its users subscribing. That glut of good movies on Netflix is great if all you want is to never get bored, but it can make it difficult to figure out which things are actually worth your time, and which aren't. If that's your goal, we've got you covered. This list is a combination of great Netflix original movies, and good movies to watch that Netflix is currently housing on its service, and it even includes a few great Netflix action movies. What unites these movies, though, is that they are the very best Netflix movies currently available. If you're looking for films to watch on some of Netflix's competitors, we've also found the best Amazon Prime movies, the best Hulu movies, and the best Disney Plus movies. You can also check out some new Netflix movies at the bottom of this post.

Dune (2021)

High On Films

All 44 Tom Cruise Movies, Ranked

Today, Tom Cruise is synonymous with gravity-defying stunts that adorn the biggest set pieces in the Mission: Impossible movies, wherein his passionate love for doing his own stuntwork has cemented his reputation as a larger-than-life movie star. Few actors possess the magnetism that Tom Cruise exudes, whether on set or on the big screen, in which he dazzles with his 1000-megawatt smile and carefully-crafted, wild intensity. However, Cruise is not just a decorated action star who merely entertains in the form of thrills — he shines best in complex dramas that demand characters to descend into the depths of what truly defines them. Be it a dollar bill brandishing Bill Harford or a chaotically tenacious Jerry Maguire, Cruise knows how to navigate nuanced character vignettes and imbue any film he’s in with a telltale intensity that cannot be replicated.

Having worked on 40+ films, alongside some episodes in television and documentaries, Tom Cruise has emerged as a bonafide — dare I say — icon in the past couple of years. Keeping this in mind, ranking every film he’s been in can be a tricky endeavor: after all, art is violently subjective and cannot truly be ranked to discern its innate value. Before we proceed, I would like to clarify the following: this ranking will be a combination of the quality of a film and the quality of Cruise’s performance in it, with a heavy emphasis on the latter. So, if you don’t see a, say, Top Gun: Maverick at numero uno, please don’t come rushing with your pitchforks!

Finally, this is as much a ranking as an appreciation for Tom Cruise’s staggering range and intensity as an actor, so please feel free to have a good time while you’re at it. With that out of the way, let’s dive in.

44. Endless Love (1981)

cruise movies ranked

Tom Cruise’s debut performance as Billy in Franco Zeffirelli’s Endless Love is too blink-and-you-miss-it for it to warrant a substantial place in his filmography. Although Cruise’s character partially impacts the central romance between Brooke Shields and Martin Hewitt with a tale of unintentional arson, there’s not enough to go on here. Moreover, Endless Love can be categorized as an adaptation that does not understand its source material or the turgid, obsessive love affair that lies at the heart of the story.

43. The Mummy (2017)

cruise movies ranked

Remember the Dark Universe? Neither do I. As a part of a terribly under-planned and misguided attempt to create a cinematic universe with classic Universal monsters, The Mummy was the first and final nail in the coffin for this ambitious franchise. Helmed by Alex Kurtzman, the film had several writers on board, along with David Koepp and Christopher McQuarrie. However, the end result was a bafflingly lackluster script led by a character whose blandness overrides his consistently unbearable smugness.

Tom Cruise’s usual charm, which generally oscillates between endearing and effectively cocky throughout his filmography, comes off as obnoxious in The Mummy, mostly due to how it is handled. Apart from being a failed Tom Cruise vehicle, The Mummy thoroughly lacks originality to the point that it comes off as a sad pastiche of the classics it desperately tries to imitate.

42. Cocktail (1988)

cruise movies ranked

Here, Tom Cruise plays yet another cocky flirt, this time a bartender named Brian Flanagan. Cocktail is the quintessential hollow ‘80s movie , with its glamour and appeal resting heavily on Cruise’s good looks. Well, the story in itself revolves around Brian’s ability to seduce women (whilst bartending, for the most part) until he decides to romance Elisabeth Shue’s Jordan. Unfortunately, Cocktail fails to imbibe any of the standard thrills that are cognizant of good romantic dramas, as the script lacks the depth to keep the audience invested or hooked. However, if you are ever in the mood to watch an unbearably suave Cruise flaring at a bar while the rest of the plot (plot? what plot?) gradually fades into the periphery, Cocktail is the perfect Tom Cruise film for this sole purpose.

41. Losin’ It (1983)

cruise movies ranked

A sex comedy about adolescents trying their damnest to get laid, Losin’ It follows a young Tom Cruise on a road trip to Tijuana with his gang, who, wait for it, want to get some. Although there is nothing inherently bad about Curtis Hanson’s film, it unfurls as a run-of-the-mill genre offering rife with coming-of-age tropes and semi-hilarious shenanigans that end in some sort of pseudo-profound life lesson. Worth skipping entirely unless you’re a Cruise completionist.

40. Lions for Lambs (2007)

A war drama helmed by Robert Redford with a talent-packed cast including Cruise, Meryl Streep, and Redford himself sounds like the perfect Oscar bait. However, Redford’s Lions for Lambs was far from what everyone envisioned the film to be. Instead, it turned out to be a preachy, hollow morality drama with long-winded monologues that seemed like pedantic lectures. A film about America’s war on terror, Lions for Lambs executes its subject material in a rather pompous manner, robbing the film of the nuance and substance it should have essentially embodied. Although Tom Cruise is fine as Senator Jasper Irving, his performance fails to eclipse the dull execution of what could have been an especially riveting narrative about the futility of war.

39. Rock of Ages (2012)

cruise movies ranked

Broadway musicals can be electrifying, and when appropriately adapted to the big screen, the results can be brilliant (a recent example being Steven Spielberg’s abundantly layered West Side Story). Adam Shankman’s Rock of Ages, based on Chris D’Arienzo’s jukebox Broadway musical of the same name, is almost too eccentric(ally bad) for its own good, crumbling into a brand of silliness I personally cannot get behind. Having said that, Tom Cruise is the only redeeming aspect of Shankman’s lifeless adaptation, who imbues metal rocker Stacee Jaxx with a bonkers, chameleon-like quality, managing to keep the movie afloat during the direst of times. If you can get past some of the intense croonings, that is.

38. Far and Away (1992)

cruise movies ranked

In Far and Away, Tom Cruise and his then-wife Nicole Kidman play Irish immigrants coming to the US hoping to partake in the elusive American Dream. This premise can quickly become hackneyed if not treated with some modicum of ingenuity. And it does. In a case of pure miscasting, both Cruise and Kidman fail to reinvigorate this American epic with any sort of weight, despite their best efforts. Although visually stunning, Far and Away is the kind of film that suffers from shallowness that it seems to be unaware of, devoid of any meaningful stakes that can hurtle this drama towards a reasonable conclusion. Cruise’s Irish accent is…interesting, to put it mildly, which does not help the film’s case in any shape or form.

37. Taps (1981)

cruise movies ranked

To be fair, Taps is a relatively good military drama, with a string of convincing performances backing it, especially by Timothy Hutton, who was nominated for a Golden Globe for the same. As we’re ranking films as per the quality of Tom Cruise’s performances, Taps ranks lower due to the limited screen time the actor has to work with here. Playing Cadet Captain David Shawn, Cruise plays a character who takes his responsibilities a tad too seriously, banking on the age-old notions of honor, which are often associated with a certain brand of masculinity and heroics. Despite the film’s self-endorsed seriousness, Taps, with or without Cruise, is a little lackluster on the stakes front and is pretty forgettable as a whole.

36. Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (2016)

Banality is the name of the game in Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, the sequel to the moderately enjoyable 2012 film, which still possesses numerous merits worth consideration. Tom Cruise reprises the franchise’s titular role, which often smacked as odd to me since Lee Child’s hulking protagonist is a far cry from Cruise’s rendition of the officer-turned-vigilante. However, the core issue with Edward Zwick’s sequel is not Cruise but a meandering, heavily by-the-numbers plot that seeps out any semblance of joy one can expect to derive from a standard action thriller.

The film’s reported budget of $96 million feels thoroughly unearned, as it is barely reflected in the shoddily-executed final product. Although Cruise is markedly different from the character’s novel counterpart, he brings a haunting intensity to the role that would have definitely fared better with a stronger, more cohesive script.

35. All The Right Moves (1983)

cruise movies ranked

An early Tom Cruise entry, All The Right Moves, is pretty nondescript in terms of its filmmaking merits but emerges as pivotal in cementing Cruise’s credibility as a leading man. This Michael Chapman sports drama revolves around a Pennsylvania high-school footballer who is at loggerheads with his coach, desperate to escape his humble roots and make it big in the world of professional sports.

In terms of storyline, All The Right Moves is pretty middling, mimicking dozens of Hollywood entries that feature a gifted high schooler with ambitious aspirations persevering against all odds. However, Cruise manages to keep the storyline grounded, hence elevating an otherwise trite coming-of-age drama into a refreshingly honest character study worth checking out

34. Legend (1985)

cruise movies ranked

Fresh off the success of Blade Runner, Ridley Scott ventured into the epic dark fantasy realm with Legend, which can only be described as a neverending fever dream. Now, don’t get me wrong: I think Legend is pure camp fun, and my love for the film knows no bounds. Be it a heavily costumed Tim Curry, who plays a 10-foot Lord of Darkness with menacing bravado, or an electrifying Mia Sara, whose Black Swan-like transformation may or may not have been my bisexual awakening, Legend is deliriously bonkers in the best of ways.

However, the film’s weakest link is Tom Cruise’s everyman-turned-hero Jack, who fights the devil with the power of light while donning armor made with a thousand shiny bottle caps. Cruise’s performance is not nearly as campy as the film demands. Hence, he painfully sticks out, like a being never truly belonging in the trippy wonderland it seems to inhabit.

33. Days of Thunder (1990)

A lot of hopes and dreams were pinned on Days of Thunder right around the time of its release, as it was the second collaboration between Tom Cruise and Tony Scott after the iconic Top Gun. Although it failed to meet these extremely high expectations, Days of Thunder whirls its way to the finish line in a way typical of a NASCAR flick: there are uber-fast cars, cocky drivers, and love interests cheering these hot-shot men on.

This is also the film in which Cruise met Kidman, who plays the love interest to his Cole Trickle. The film in itself? Underwhelming and pretty formulaic when it comes to its derivative plotting. Cruise, however, brings his telltale dynamism to the role, offering a glimpse of the wild intensity that would define some of his career’s best roles. Think of it as a mellowed Fast & Furious for Cruise lovers, and hey, that’s not a terrible bargain.

32. Knight and Day (2010)

cruise movies ranked

James Mangold takes quintessential action-hero tropes and turns them on its head in Knight and Day, which is as fun and hilarious as it gets. Tom Cruise’s secret agent is on the run from the CIA (because, of course, he is) and needs to team up with June Havens (an extremely charming Cameron Diaz). The Diaz-Cruise duo works exceptionally well, both in serious dramas and comedic routines. The latter was proven true in Knight and Day, which remains rewatchable despite being predictable to some point. While Cruise’s Roy Miller/Matthew Knight follows the same mold as a dozen characters he plays in a bunch of action films, Knight and Day rank higher sheerly due to its purely enjoyable hijinks, which follow neither logic nor plausibility. Which is fine; let’s live a little.

31. Mission: Impossible II (2001)

cruise movies ranked

After the genre-defying Mission: Impossible by Brian De Palma, which cemented Tom Cruise as the indomitable Ethan Hunt, John Woo’s Mission: Impossible II fell flat. Although not a terrible film by traditional genre standards, the sequel, unfortunately, does not inch any closer to the measured brilliance of the first MI film by investing in a borderline-nonsensical plot that does not do justice to the franchise’s core. However, the inherent shortcomings of this film are neither Woo’s nor Cruise’s fault, who undoubtedly bring their individual brands of commitment to this particular installment.

Due to the ridiculous nature of the script, Hunt emerges more as a bland villain than a morally complex anti-hero, although the subsequent films steadily paint him as the undisputed hero of the franchise, despite his moral complexities. The film also lacks the standard Woo-esque action flair. In fact, one is better off watching The Killer or Face/Off to genuinely appreciate what John Woo is really capable of.

30. Jack Reacher (2012)

No, please don’t yell at me for ranking Jack Reacher higher than MI 2 — let me explain. While Tom Cruise’s best efforts are adversely impacted by Mission: Impossible II’s headache-inducing script and characterization, Jack Reacher allows the action star to shine while adding an ounce of thrill to its titular character. This first installment is better received than its sequel because it understands what kind of film it is and works overtime to deliver the freshest thrills possible within that limited ambit.

Christopher McQuarrie employs Cruise’s natural charisma in favor of the storyline while weaving in an interesting antagonist in the form of a feral Werner Herzog . Also, I find Cruise’s brooding, cold-blooded persona an interesting turn among the long list of suave good guys he has played, especially within the framework of an action thriller that is meant to be a fun ride.

29. Valkyrie (2008)

cruise movies ranked

Before I delve into how Valkyrie fares as a political drama , I want to focus exclusively on Tom Cruise’s performance as Wehrmacht Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, one of the foremost members of the failed plot to assassinate Hitler. Cruise’s casting was the subject of controversy, as he was deemed too American for the role (compounded with the fact that none of the Nazi officers sported an accent throughout the film).

Despite these odds, Cruise churns out a reasonably good performance within the limitations of a plot that favors glitz and glamor over complex characterization. However, Cruise is not a standout here, as the rest of the cast belts out equally convincing performances. Meanwhile, the film fails to soar above the fringes of well-made mediocrity. Although Valkyrie is not laughably bad, it is not exceptionally good either, especially if you re-contextualize it through the German lens, given that the film fails the test of historical accuracy on many fronts.

28. Oblivion (2013)

Oh, I know: most lists would bill Oblivion way, way lower, as it is generally perceived as one of Tom Cruise’s inferior entries in the sci-fi genre. However, as an Oblivion apologist, I believe the film boasts something essentially significant: its plot stands out as wholly original despite suffering from some pacing and narrative issues.

Cruise is the heart of Oblivion — he sells the chaotic reveal halfway through the film, which seems to take clear inspiration from Solaris (the Andrei Tarkovsky original, not the American remake). Cruise perfectly plays a fractured character who is meant to be a ghost of his core self, chasing objectives until the mirage dissipates. Joseph Kosinski, who is a master at capturing aesthetic beauty, gift wraps Oblivion as a beautifully bleak dystopian experience that is worth experiencing at least once.

27. The Last Samurai (2003)

cruise movies ranked

Edward Zwick’s epic period drama, The Last Samurai, positions Tom Cruise as an American captain who crosses paths with samurai warriors in the Meiji Restoration period in 19th century Japan. Right off the bat, I applaud the film’s stunning action sequences, which still hold up due to their fluidity and seamlessness, like poetry in motion. In terms of how Cruise fares in this drama, he brings equal amounts of badassery and heart to his conflicted character and adds an edge to the intelligently-penned plot with great conviction.

However, my issue with The Last Samurai lies in the inherent treatment of its subject matter: the white savior trope defines copious chunks of the third act. Moreover, the film falls prey to an idealized, sanitized portrayal of the ways of the Samurai. Although a marked improvement from the problematic Americanized retellings of Japan’s complex socio-cultural landscape, The Last Samurai is still an extremely flawed epic that props up embellished versions of actual historical figures—still a great watch.

26. Vanilla Sky (2001)

cruise movies ranked

Yet another potentially controversial ranking, most ranking lists delegate Vanilla Sky to the fag end of best Tom Cruise films. However, for me, the film fulfills the dual role of evoking a deeply surreal tale and allowing Cruise the space to showcase his terrific range, and it emerges as one of the cornerstones in Cruise’s career. Now, Vanilla Sky pales miserably compared to its Spanish-language original, Abre los Ojos. But it still remains an ambitious adaptation that dares to tackle deep existential themes (while lacking the depth to grasp its implications fully).

Even though Cruise portrays what one can essentially describe as a self-centered prick, he still manages to evoke some amount of sympathy, even for such a morally-degraded character. Overall, the film functions best within the domain of dream logic, where the conscious and the subconscious meet to expose our deepest desires, which are often inherently cruel and unimaginably selfish.

25. Tropic Thunder (2008)

cruise movies ranked

Ben Stiller’s Tropic Thunder has too many gems to boast of, being a film that still remains darkly comedic and hilarious in the best of ways. However, one of the standouts among the film’s many, many highlights (Jack Black experiencing drug withdrawal in a wildly unhinged manner takes the cake for me) is Tom Cruise’s small but defining role as sleazeball businessman Less Grossman. Cruise’s maniacal monologue where he “negotiates” with the kidnappers and screams, “I’m talking scorched earth, motherfucker!” as a dumbstruck Matthew McConaughey gawks at him is enough to qualify it as a memorable Cruise performance. And oh, Cruise also busts out some sick moves as Grossman toward the end of the film, which perfectly caps off this delightfully bonkers cameo role.

24. American Made (2017)

cruise movies ranked

This Doug Liman joint melds heart-thumping action with a devil-may-care protagonist embodied by Tom Cruise effortlessly while being inspired by the life of TWA pilot Barry Seal, who flew a mission for the CIA. This is an admittedly winning combination, as American Made is an extremely enjoyable and breezy watch, with Cruise using his cult of personality in the film’s favor with no holds barred. This is the kind of Cruise performance that revels in the actor’s strengths: a script that demands stuntwork (that he would happily oblige to do), a character that creates space for exhibiting boisterous charm, and a decently good screenplay that ties everything together. Although American Made is too glib to be taken seriously, the film delivers exactly what it means to and works in sync with everything that defines Cruise’s wheelhouse.

23. The Outsiders (1983)

cruise movies ranked

Francis Ford Coppola’s coming-of-age gem, The Outsiders, is an eccentric yet effective adaptation of the source material, with a host of young talent grounding the film. Tom Cruise is one among the many names, alongside Matt Dillon , Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe, and Emilio Estevez. What’s interesting about Cruise’s performance in The Outsiders is that it is a peek inside the Hollywood star’s strengths before he adopted a more suave, polished, leading-man persona.

Here, Cruise’s Steve Randle is an awkward adolescent who plays a marginally smaller role in the plot than the rest of the cast but still manages to intrigue. There’s a naturalistic and rough-around-the-edges aura to Cruise’s rendition of the character, which is never seen again once the actor officially enters the territory of a confident, charming leading man. Moreover, The Outsiders is a pretty solid film that tackles teenage trauma with great nuance, championing an authenticity often missing in mainstream genre entries.

22. Mission: Impossible III (2006)

cruise movies ranked

What’s not to love about Mission: Impossible III? J.J. Abrams took the reins of a franchise that had previously faltered with one underwhelming installment and reinvigorated it by highlighting the brimming potential of a saga about a tenacious IMF officer. The stakes in MI3 seem higher than ever, with the odds abundantly stacked against Tom Cruise’s Hunt — especially when he’s up against the deadly Owen David, played to perfection by Philip Seymour Hoffman .

While the Rabbit’s Foot functioned more as a McGuffin to drive the plot forward, MI3 expertly weaves bombastic action with heartfelt stakes by introducing Julia (Michele Monaghan) into the mix. Needless to say, Cruise elevates Hunt by investing a special brand of guarded vulnerability in him, which undoubtedly pays off in future installments.

21. The Firm (1993)

cruise movies ranked

Yes, I know, this is an adaptation of a John Grisham thriller in the ‘90s and films with similar plots and mysterious shenanigans were a dime a dozen at that point in time. However, The Firm set a precedent for such adaptations and proved that a great legal thriller is a careful combination of star power, evenly-paced thrills, and hard-edged cynicism.

Here, Tom Cruise plays Mitch McDeere, a Harvard-educated tax lawyer with brimming ambition, who gets accepted into a legal firm under conditions that seem too good to be true. And they are, as Mitch finds himself at the heart of a web of lies and deception, trapped against his will in the corrupt ecosystem with no way out. Cruise exhibits incredible range in this wonderfully-eventful drama, going from a promising, wide-eyed lawyer to a man desperate not to lose everything he holds dear. Also, I have got to especially mention Gene Hackman here, as his presence creates intriguing, dangerous friction in the scenes shared by Mitch and Hackman’s mentor character.

20. War of the Worlds (2005)

Tom Cruise in War of the Worlds

Alien invasion plots are a Steven Spielberg specialty, and his War of the Worlds, a gripping adaptation of H.G. Wells’ classic, is frankly phenomenal. Here, Tom Cruise does not play a decorated hero but an everyman forced to step up to the mantle — specifically, a sort-of deadbeat, emotionally vacant father whose kids cannot stand the sight of him. This is fresh territory for Cruise, who manages to add something viscerally relatable to his character’s plight, who does not seem to know how to bridge the gap between him and his children amid an alien invasion.

Spielberg’s commentary about the futility of war and the perseverance of the human spirit in the form of close-knit families elevates this post-apocalyptic thriller, which manages to intrigue with its frenetic action and emotional depth. Cruise is the glue in War of the Worlds, making disparate elements work rather effortlessly while embodying a deeply flawed character with great skill. I also have a deep love for the scene in which he furiously makes peanut butter sandwiches for his miffed kids (it is both sad and hilarious).

Related Content: 10 Best Films By Steven Spielberg

19. interview with the vampire (1994).

Anne Rice aficionados who’ve read The Vampire Chronicles will immediately understand the importance of Interview with the Vampire, which raises vital questions about creation, consumption, humanity, and lack thereof. Not a traditional vampire tale, Interview situates a newly-bitten Louis with the cruel, unapologetically hedonistic Lestat de Lioncourt, who assumes various roles for our protagonist, including maker, nemesis, and lover.

While the Hollywood adaptation completely neutered the homoerotic underpinnings between Lestat and Louis, one would be a fool to deny the brand of passionate, frenzied sexuality that Tom Cruise brings as the pompous, effortlessly stylish Lestat. A brat through and through, Cruise’s Lestat eggs on, coaxes, and torments Louis throughout while celebrating the cruelties inherent in being a creature of the night without abandon. Shame is an alien emotion to Lestat, and Cruise perfectly embodies this by treating Louis’ empathy with dripping disdain. While Interview with the Vampire is not the best Rice adaptation (the AMC series is clearly superior in every way), Cruise is pivotal to bringing the novel’s morbidly dreary world to life.

18. Top Gun (1986)

The reasons Top Gun landed here on my list can be attributed to many factors. First off, the film, despite boasting groundbreaking aerial sequences that still hold up after all these years, is not devoid of faults. Only stimulating in parts and cheesy as hell, Top Gun is one of those films that enjoy the benefit of nostalgia, which does not necessarily void out the film’s many strengths. Top Gun definitely acted as a launchpad for Tom Cruise’s journey into superstardom, positioning him in the shoes of a highly cocky yet endearing Maverick, who undergoes great personal loss and has to tackle overwhelming guilt in the end.

There’s a ribbon of sexualized masculinity that runs throughout the film, but refreshingly, it never descends into misogyny or toxicity of any kind. The way Top Gun props up male friendships is frankly beautiful, a case in point being the glorious volleyball sequence that still manages to make us feel giddy.

17. The Color of Money (1986)

Tom Cruise in The Color of Money (1986)

Martin Scorsese’s sports drama , The Color of Money, is clearly Paul Newman’s film, but part of the film’s charm is undoubtedly contributed by Tom Cruise, who belts out a major supportive performance. Playing protégé to pool player Fast Eddie, Cruise, once again, uses his cocky boyish charm to add an easygoing quality to the narrative, which makes for a really enjoyable performance.

Moreover, Scorsese’s masterful direction allows the huge ensemble cast to feel meaningfully fleshed out, where the central trio stands out distinctively amidst a host of colorful characters. This entry is so high up on my list because Cruise, who was still cementing his talent at the time, convincingly managed to hold his own opposite the likes of Newman and John Turturro , especially with Newman eventually winning an Oscar for his performance in the film. Also, The Color of Money is a certified banger, so there we go.

16. Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011)

cruise movies ranked

Ghost Protocol is a pure, adrenaline spectacle, both from an action and narrative standpoint. Everything is tuned up to a 100 as Hunt and his crew take on increasingly dangerous missions that are, heh, impossible. The fact that Tom Cruise scaled the Burj Khalifa to deliver one of the most electrifying setpieces in the franchise is a reason alone for Ghost Protocol to deserve all the love. Still, the film also props an extremely good Jeremy Renner among the chaos.

The literal definition of deliciously good popcorn entertainment, Ghost Protocol is fun, chaotic, technically impressive, and features some choice emotionally-resonant moments. My only (minor) gripe with the film is the unspeakably embarrassing Anil Kapoor cameo, which literally adds nothing to the plot and could’ve been handled better. But I digress: Cruise brings renewed energy to Hunt, who gradually morphs into a legend who cannot be bested, no matter the odds.

15. Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One (2023)

Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One (2023)

Ethan Hunt is a man haunted by his past, an amalgamation of everything he’s lost so far, coupled with the rising anxiety of what he might lose next. Dead Reckoning heightens these personal stakes for Cruise’s Hunt like never before, imbuing him with the same vulnerability that he wore on his sleeve in De Palma’s Mission: Impossible. Sure, he’s still willing to jump off unbelievable heights and put his life on the line for the sake of his missions, but here, Hunt’s dilemma is more pronounced, as he faces real, irrevocable loss after the death of someone close to him.

Prior to this, Hunt has faced off against innumerable enemies, ranging from complex antagonists eager to blow up the world to those plotting within the firm to smoke him out as a potential mole. Dead Reckoning takes an eerie, timely approach to its big bad by positioning an A.I. keen on world domination — dubbed The Entity, which employs human agents to ensure that Hunt is stopped before it’s too late.

While the film ends on a cliffhanger, paving the way for Part Two, there’s plenty to love here. Cruise embraces the lighter aspects of his personality while also brandishing his fierce, protective side—the latter manifesting in tense alleyway scuffles and desperate grappling on the top of a moving train. Dead Reckoning raises the stakes for Cruise as an action star like every succeeding M: I installment. It also allows him to imbue Hunt with a culmination of regrets that only fuel his need to be the one to save the world.

14. Minority Report (2002)

Tom Cruise in Minority Report (2002)

I love Philip K. Dick, and I love Spielberg’s Minority Report, which encapsulates the high-concept sci-fi action aura of Dick’s novel. Here Tom Cruise’s Jon Anderton has the ability of precognition — a staple trope in Dick’s works — which posits an interesting conundrum between free will and determinism, along with the dire cost of prescience. However, in my book, Cruise’s performance, while skillful, does not necessarily make the movie what it is, as the plot works due to a combination of factors, including incredible secondary performances.

Even though Cruise is the leading man burdened with the gift of prophecy and the fates of many depend on him, it is the dual performances of Samantha Morton and Colin Farrell that shine through, adding a biting edge to an already competent storyline. While Cruise does what he does best (he also runs, which is aces), the film’s many strengths far outnumber his contributions, which explains my reasoning for not ranking it in the top ten.

13. Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation (2015)

cruise movies ranked

Christopher McQuarrie simply serves in this Mission: Impossible installment, which contains all the telltale ingredients that make every MI entry a blast. Unbelievably fun, Rogue Nation knows which aspects of the franchise work best and employs fresh thrills alongside time-tested hits that have elevated Ethan Hunt into the once-reluctant (now willing) hero he is. The mystery elements of the plot are extremely tense and genuinely thrilling. At the same time, the presence of Rebecca Ferguson’s Ilsa (who is now a staple) breathes new life into the secondary dynamics of the film.

Although Rogue Nation isn’t wholly original, it simply doesn’t matter: Tom Cruise deepens Hunt’s character by introducing complex, contrarian impulses, and these aspects emerge best when he’s interacting with Ilsa, who is, frankly, a stunning addition to the gang. I mean, you folks remember the opera sequence, right? There’s something endlessly cool about Hunt being one-upped by a competent, mysterious agent, who goes on to forge an emotional bond with him as time passes. Formulaic, but done with skill, so it works!

12. Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

Tom Cruise in Edge of Tomorrow

While Edge of Tomorrow seems like a typical action thoroughfare, it is truly a remarkable film that establishes conventions only to violently — and effectively — subvert them. Tom Cruise’s hero status in the film is not a given as it is thoroughly earned: he needs to work his ass off and die (countless times) to escape a Groundhog Day-esque scenario and potentially save the world. The one calling the shots, however, is Emily Blunt’s Rita Vrataski, the Angel of Verdun, who pays Cruise’s baffled, utterly confused character no heed for a good chunk of the first half.

In a classic inversion of expectations, Cruise’s William Cage needs guidance and saving throughout. On the other hand, Vrataski deals with all threats in a measured, no-nonsense manner that is absolutely refreshing to watch. Moreover, the Cruise-Blunt combination works beautifully, creating space for humor, pathos, and general badassery in the best of ways.

11. Mission: Impossible (1996)

Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible (1996)

Brain de Palma laid out the blueprint for the Mission: Impossible franchise with his noir-addled, dramatic-as-heck first entry, which is a perfect film in many respects. The film positions a young Ethan Hunt, who’s wholly dependent on his team until a mission in Prague goes horribly wrong and forces him to go rogue. This is history in the making, as de Palma lays the foundation for the over-the-top set-pieces that will define the franchise, key examples being the CIA infiltration scene and the entire train sequence towards the end.

The reason why I’ve ranked this entry so high up is that the film simply would not work without Tom Cruise, who adds so many subtle layers to his hounded, jilted, corned IMF rogue character that it is thrilling to watch him grow as the franchise blooms. Even the penultimate twist is pure de Palma brilliance, executed in a smart, practical, and haunting way. The action, although not as polished as the big-budget blockbusters to follow, is extremely ambitious and pulled off with great panache. After all, we wouldn’t be here eagerly expecting Dead Reckoning without this film, so I’m simply paying the respect that is due.

10. Risky Business (1983)

Risky Business is celebrated for a good reason, as this acclaimed sex comedy ticks all the right genre boxes and features the Tom Cruise performance that put him on the mainstream radar. Here, Cruise turns on his charms to the max in a stylish satire that explores teen angst and the arbitrariness of morality, eliciting genuine laughs along the way. However, the film is not without glaring faults. It is extremely dated (and problematic!) in its treatment of trans women and sex workers, which obviously urges us to direct appropriate criticism toward these aspects.

The reason why Risky Business makes it to the top ten is Cruise and Cruise alone, who plays an entrepreneur-turned-pimp to perfection. A significant factor is an iconic scene in which Joel slides across the floor, miming Bob Seger’s rendition of Old Time Rock and Roll, wearing a pink shirt and white briefs. This is an image of a true movie star in the making, harkening to the beginning of great things to come.

Also Read: 10 Great Dark Comedies from the 20th Century

09. rain man (1988).

Tom Cruise in Rain Man (1988)

Barry Levinson’s Rain Man situates Tom Cruise as the brash, self-centered Charlie, who learns about the existence of his brother Raymond ( Dustin Hoffman ), an autistic savant. Although Levinson’s script is decently good and is executed without major blemishes, what makes Rain Man seminal is its central performances, where both Hoffman and Cruise give it their all to bring the story to life.

As we’re honed in on Cruise here, I must say he plays Charlie rather beautifully, portraying the depths of a man who does not quite understand emotional vulnerability as he drowns under mountains of resentment. While Hoffman consistently evokes strong emotions with his rendition of Raymond, Cruise emerges as the unexpected X factor in the film, injecting the premise with a realistic sense of shallow, cruel desperation that adds significantly to his character.

08. Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018)

cruise movies ranked

In terms of the culmination of the best traits in the Mission: Impossible franchise, Fallout is sheer perfection. The swag in Fallout is wild, as the amount and dynamism of the set pieces eclipse all expectations, even after being appropriately met in Rogue Nation. Tom Cruise proves, without a shadow of a doubt, that he is the definitive Ethan Hunt, and transferring the mantle to anyone else would be an absurd, rather foolish decision. Somehow, Cruise manages to make Hunt more iconic than previously imaginable while helming a story with plentiful thrills and mindblowing.

A special ode to Henry Cavill for reloading his muscles in the bathroom fight sequence and adding thrilling stakes to the story as a morally complex anti-hero that I would love to see a return to the franchise (I know, I know, but one can hope?) Moreover, Fallout is a consistent adrenaline high with almost no dull moments — it is a blockbuster through and through, crafted with love and dedication, with an evergreen Cruise at the beating heart of it all. I’ve run out of praises, but you get the gist.

07. Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

Tom Cruise in Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

Before you unsheathe your pitchforks again, let me paint you a picture. The prospect of working with Stanley Kubrick is a double-edged sword — on the one hand, there’s the genius artistic vision. Still, on the other, there’s the callous cruelty he exhibits on-set that pushes the strongest actors over the edge. While Kubrick’s heinous treatment of Shelley Duval on the set of The Shining is fairly common knowledge, folks often overlook his treatment of Tom Cruise and Kidman while filming Eyes Wide Shut, which still remains an electrifying, captivating entry in the auteur’s oeuvre. The man exerted such intense pressure on Cruise that the megastar developed ulcers due to the harrowing stress, which is evident in the portrayal of Bill Harford.

Eyes Wide Shut is Cruise pushed to the edge of sanity, where he brings a visceral sense of insecurity and paranoia to the role in an intriguing character study. Personally, I adore Eyes Wide Shut and will defend it to death. While you might disagree with this sentiment, it’s evident that the film dangerously capitalizes on Cruise’s sound capabilities as a serious actor.

Related List: All Stanley Kubrick Movies Ranked From Great to Greatest

06. top gun: maverick (2021).

Tom Cruise - Top Gun: Maverick

I watched Top Gun: Maverick in theaters with my father, who is completely removed from the realm of mainstream Hollywood cinema. While he was heavily impressed by the sequel’s astounding aerial action sequences, he made it a point to repeatedly praise Tom Cruise’s screen presence and the absolute command he holds over every scene. This perfectly encapsulates the core reason why Top Gun: Maverick swept the box office the way it did: the film builds meaningfully upon the Top Gun nostalgia while fleshing out an emotionally high-stakes, action-heavy tale with Maverick at the center.

Joseph Kosinski innately understands the mechanics of a Tom Cruise vehicle that works in favor of an almost-flawless film and weaves it into a story about camaraderie and letting go of the past. Yet another stylishly sexy beach sequence acts as the icing on the cake, which works well because the fresh characters are all genuinely likable and integral to Maverick’s journey. Also, Cruise’s comeback as Maverick is remarkably nuanced, as he can imbue the character with emotional depths that are otherwise missing in the original. Simply lovely, with no notes.

05. Collateral (2004)

Tom Cruise as a hardened killer, a full-blown villain, is a deliciously rare sight, and Collateral offers this rare glimpse into the actor’s capabilities to turn completely rogue. Everything about this Michael Mann extravaganza is chef’s kiss: it is an L.A. noir about a can driver ( Jamie Foxx , who’s also brilliant) who Cruise’s dangerously unhinged Vincent corners, and forced to cooperate till the end of the night in increasingly unnerving ways.

Every supporting performance adds a kernel of authentic thrill to Mann’s expertly-crafted piece, but it is Foxx and Cruise who engage in a mad dance to keep audiences hooked. I have a particular affinity for the nightclub scene in Collateral, where Cruise, who is coolly confident up to this point, starts wreaking havoc by pushing patrons while Ready Steady Go! blares in the background. The way Cruise moves in this sequence is raw, animalistic, and dangerous, exposing the true extent of his villainy and the innate danger Foxx’s character is in. Collateral is no Heat, but it is up there in the ranks of tense, gripping noir-thrillers with stellar performances to ground them.

04. A Few Good Men (1992)

Tom Cruise in A Few Good Men (1992)

Jack Nicholson is a force of nature in every film he’s in, tempering his intensity according to the nature of the plot, with great success. To be able to hold one’s own opposite such a dynamic actor is no small feat, and Tom Cruise manages to do just that in A Few Good Men. Rob Reiner’s film might be a tad overdramatic in the way it handles its subject matter. Still, the drama unfolds in the most effective ways, bookended by impetuous performances that leave no space for dull moments in an old-fashioned courtroom drama.

The oft-quoted courtroom faceoff between Cruise and Nicholson’s characters is theatricality at its best, with two-star powers with different sets of strengths meeting together to deliver an unforgettable scene. The “You can’t handle the truth!” monologue is still endlessly quotable. Cruise’s performance extends beyond this little snippet, as he embodies Daniel Kaffee with just the right amount of righteous snark and idealistic indignation. Truly great stuff.

Related Read: Virtues of Moral Duty and Battlefield Heroics in War Movies

03. jerry maguire (1996).

Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire (1996)

“Show me the moneeeeeyyyyy!!!!” I’m sorry, I had to. In hindsight, it feels like Cameron Crowe tailor-made Jerry Maguire solely for Tom Cruise, as the actor was meant to embody the towering narcissism of slick sports agent Jerry Maguire. He used to be handed things on a platter based on his success and charisma alone, Jerry is hilariously at his wit’s end when on the verge of losing everything and starting his own agency. Although some aspects of the film have not aged well, Jerry Maguire still manages to entertain, especially with the help of Renée Zellweger’s breakout character, who adds tempered emotionality to the scenes that require it the most.

Jerry is undoubtedly one of Cruise’s best roles, as it allowed the actor to portray great emotional range while being insufferably slick, all the while managing to remain lovable. Beyond performances, the film paints a reasonably accurate picture of the behind-the-scenes corporate shenanigans that can make or break careers in an instant and the shallowness inherent within such cultures. Jerry straddles both sides of the road and emerges as someone deeply capable of genuine compassion — and that is all that matters.

02. Magnolia (1999)


Magnolia is a full-blown experience courtesy of Paul Thomas Anderson , who weaves a frenetic string of ambitious brushstrokes over the span of 188 minutes. As densely intricate as interconnected stories go, Magnolia is a masterpiece in storytelling helmed by various performances that verge on the operatic. Tom Cruise plays pickup artist Frank T.J. Mackey, whose introductory speech immediately puts the actor’s acting chops on display to tremendous effect. Mackey sells vile, misogynistic ideas to his male followers to rile them up and rally them in his favor while conning them to buy into the idea of his ridiculous sex seminars.

The way Cruise conveys this larger-than-life televangelist personality is astounding, offering layered insight into the fragility of male egos when failed by the same patriarchal structures they try so desperately to uphold. When perceived as a composite whole, Magnolia is brilliant and convoluted, and Cruise still stands out in some capacity when measured against the slew of remarkable performances that pepper the film.

Related List: All Paul Thomas Anderson Movies Ranked

01. born on the fourth of july (1989).

Tom Cruise

Although not a blockbuster or a widely-loved entry by any means, Born on the Fourth of July is Tom Cruise at the pinnacle of his abilities, without question. Cruise’s lead performance as Ron Kovic is downright unforgettable in this Oliver Stone biographical drama, which expertly balances political commentary with a story that brims with heart. In many cases, such biographical Hollywood entries seem to be made with awards season in mind. However, Born on the Fourth of July tackles its serious subject matter with the genuine need to etch a thought-provoking story about an anti-war activist who strays away from idealistic ruminations to being vitriolically furious about the inhumanity of war.

War is never a glorious affair — there is no glory in the basest, most destructive urge of human nature, and Stone conveys this in gut-wrenching ways. The reason I chose this film to cap off this list is because of how unconventional this role this when it comes to Cruise’s usual strengths — and how unbelievably brilliant he is in playing such an unflinching, fiery character with roots in real life. Cruise as Kovic perfectly captures the breadth of emotionality the actor can convey and the raw passion that guides every step of the way.

Similar Lists:

10 best leonardo dicaprio movie performances 10 best brad pitt movie performances, tom cruise links: imdb , wikipedia.

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The 27 best tom cruise movies of all-time, ranked, we're looking at some of his best.

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Tom Cruise’s official film debut was in 1981. It is now 2023. Over forty years later, and the man is still on top; He closed out 2022 with the second highest grossing movie of the year, and the new Mission Impossible flick is poised to be a hit. There’s been an on-going debate about the topic of star power when it comes to today’s current movie scene. Sure you have franchises (Marvel for example) that are sure to get people to come out to the theater, but it appears as though the days of movie stars being the sole reason for tickets being sold and butts being put in seats are long gone compared to the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s for example. Only a handful of stars still have that power, and Tom Cruise is one of them. And with one of the best Tom Cruise movies of all time released recently, it's clear the power he still holds.

You shouldn’t need any proof of what we’re saying, but for extra measure, the box office revenue for Top Gun: Maverick was $1.454 billion (yes billion), making it the highest-grossing film of Cruise’s career on June 17th, 2022 (his previous high was $800 million). This, ladies and gentlemen, is with the movie actually being the follow-up to the original film that came out in 1986. That means Tom Cruise was able to take the sequel to a movie that was made 36 years ago, and not only outperform that film, but every single film he has ever made up to this point… bruh.

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When it comes to the topic of which Tom Cruise movie is the best, well, what do you do? Do you include every single movie he has ever made? What about the Mission Impossible franchise? Should every Mission Impossible be included? That, our friends, has left us with an incredibly tough task, but we’re going to try. Below is a list of the best Tom Cruise movies according to ONE37pm.

Here. We. Go.

The Best Tom Cruise Movies, Ranked

27. mission: impossible – dead reckoning part one, year released: 2023.

  • Director: Christopher McQuarrie
  • Writer: Christopher McQuarrie and Erik Jendresen
  • Stars: Tom Cruise, Hayley Atwell, Rebecca Ferguson

While Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One is still on the new side (literally) we feel confident putting it as in all-time Tom Cruise film, and we'll probably be bumping it up in the weeks and months to come. Just saying.

26. The Mummy

Year released: 2017.

  • Director: Alex Kurtzman
  • Writer: Alex Kurtzman, Jenny Lumet, Jon Spaihts
  • Stars: Tom Cruise, Sofia Boutella, Annabelle Wallis

Okay, we know The Mummy didn't perform well at the box office and received poor reviews from critics. However, we ask that you reconsider because the approach to streaming has changed significantly since 2017. Had this movie gone straight to streaming, we think the reaction would have been different. This is a weekend movie that you put on while you're chilling at the house, so we think you should give it another shot.

25. The Outsiders

Year released: 1983.

  • Director: Francis Ford Coppola
  • Writer: Francis Ford Coppola and S.E. Hinton
  • Stars: Matt Dillion, Tom Cruise, C. Thomas Howell, Ralph Macchio, Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe

It’s always interesting going back in time and seeing an actor’s journey before hitting it big. While not officially a household name yet, Cruise’s role as a nonchalant cool youngster named Steve Randle was the blueprint attitude wise for the types of characters that we would see him portray in the earlier part of his career. Paving the way for Risky Business so to speak.

24. Risky Business

  • Director: Paul Brickman
  • Writer: Paul Brickman
  • Stars: Tom Cruise and Rebecca De Mornay

Speaking of Risky Business , this is the movie that would officially launch Tom Cruise into Hollywood superstardom. The movie centers around high school senior Joel Goodsen (Cruise) who makes the decision to hire the services of a call girl. Upon receiving the bill the next morning, the teenager goes into a state of panic, which only gets worse after he crashes his father’s Porsche. You’ll have to watch the movie to see what happens next.

23. Top Gun

Year released: 1986.

  • Director: Tony Scott
  • Writer: Jim Cash and Jack Epps Jr.
  • Stars: Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis

The movie that got it all started. The original 1986 version featured a young Tom Cruise as a cocky fire pilot named Maverick, who is sent to the Top Gun Naval Fighter Weapons School where he is determined to be the top fighter, all while rubbing everybody the wrong way with his nasty attitude while in the process. Oh, and he’s trying to get a hot girl too. Lots to unpack here.

22. Mission Impossible

Year released: 1996.

  • Director: Brian De Palma
  • Writer: David Koepp and Robert Towne
  • Stars: Tom Cruise, Jon Voight, Emmanuelle Béart, Henry Czerny, Ving Rhames, Kristin Scott Thomas, Vanessa Redgrave, Jean Reno

Alright, here we go with the Mission Impossible franchise. First released in 1996, the story is about U.S. government agent Ethan Hunt (Cruise) who along with his mentor Jim Phelps (Jon Voight), embarks on an assignment that in turn results in Jim being killed. Now a murder suspect, Ethan recruits both a hacker (Ving Rhames) and a maverick pilot (Jean Reno) to help him sneak into the CIA to retrieve a file that will prove his innocence.

21. Mission Impossible 2

Year released: 2000.

  • Director: John Woo
  • Writer: Robert Towne
  • Stars: Tom Cruise, Thandie Newton, Dougray Scott, Ving Rhames

Many thought that Mission Impossible was a one-off movie because it ended with him proving his innocence. Many were wrong. Four years later, a sequel was released, this time with Ethan Hunt leading his IMF team on a basically mission to capture a deadly German virus before being released by terrorists. This was also the beginning of the “Tom Cruise haircut” phase that was heavily talked about in the early 2000s.

20. Jack Reacher

Year released: 2012.

  • Writer: Christopher McQuarrie
  • Stars: Tom Cruise, Lee Child, Rosamund Pike

When in doubt, go get Jack Reacher to handle your business for you. Released in 2012, Jack Reacher tells the tale of Jack Reacher having to take on a tough assignment when a town is hit by a vicious shooting attack that leaves five people dead. As Reacher digs deeper into the investigation, he realizes that there is much more to the story then he initially thought.

19. Interview With The Vampire

Year released: 1994.

  • Director: Neil Jordan
  • Writer: Anne Rice
  • Stars: Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Kirsten Dunst, Christian Slater

Going back to 1994, Interview With The Vampire chronicles an 18th century lord, Louis, who is now a bicentennial vampire with an urge to tell his story to a biographer (hence Interview With The Vampire). Louis’ recent years have been filled with tragedy after the loss of his entire family, and with Louis struggling to find the motivation to go on, he just so happens to meet another Vampire named Lestat who becomes his friend and helps him out.

18. The Last Samurai

Year released: 2003.

  • Director: Edward Zwick
  • Stars: Tom Cruise, Ken Watanbe, Hiroyuki Sanada

When you have a film catalog as deep as Tom Cruise, it sparks a debate as to which should be included in your “best movies” list. For some, The Last Samurai doesn’t make the cut. For us, it does. The film focuses on the story of an American Military officer (Cruise) who’s caught in the middle of two completely different worlds when he is hired by the Emperor of Japan to train the country’s first army in modern warfare.

This is actually one of our favorite Tom Cruise movies of all-time. It’s also very reflective of 2003 movie culture in terms of the films that came out during that era.

17. The Firm

Year released: 1993.

  • Director: Sydney Pollack
  • Writer: David Rabe, Robert Towne, David Rayfield
  • Stars: Tom Cruise, Gene Hackman, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Ed Harris, Holly Hunter, Hal Holbrook, David Straitharn, Gary Busey

Going back ten years earlier to 1993, The Firm really highlighted Cruise’s acting chops as he portrayed a young lawyer joining an established law firm, only to discover that there is quite a bit of illegal activity going on behind closed doors. Soon enough the FBI is involved, and with his life threatened, he basically has to make a decision on whether or not he is going to snitch. Does he end up snitching? Watch and find out.

16. Mission Impossible III

Year released: 2006.

  • Director: J.J. Abrams
  • Writer: J.J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci
  • Stars: Tom Cruise, Ving Rhames, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Michelle Monaghan

It’s looking like we are indeed going to end up including every single Mission Impossible film on this list. Next up in the series is the third installment, in which Ethan Hunt is now a retiree focusing on training the next Mission Impossible recruits. As you probably guessed, the retirement doesn’t last for long as Hunt has to get back out there ASAP when he and the love of his life become the target of a new villain in the mix.

15. A Few Good Men

Year released: 1992.

  • Director: Rob Reiner
  • Writer: Aaron Sorkin
  • Stars: Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson, Demi Moore

Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson, and Demi Moore all being together in one movie is the epitome of early 1990s Hollywood, and boy is it good. Really good. You’ll definitely want to check this classic out for sure. That’s all we’re going to say.

14. Tropic Thunder

  • Director: Ben Stiller
  • Writer: Ben Stiller, Justin Theroux, Etan Cohen
  • Stars: Tom Cruise, Ben Stiller, Jack Black, Robert Downey Jr.

2008 was a pretty good year for movies when you look at everything that came out that year, and Tropic Thunder is one of them. Starring Tom Cruise, Ben Stiller, Jack Black, and Robert Downing Jr. (talk about an A-List cast), Tropic Thunder is about a war movie that is in the process of being filmed. With the actors lacking motivation, the director decides to liven things up a bit by moving them to a real jungle. The situation goes awry when the actors realize after some bad luck that they are actually caught in the middle of a real-time war happening.

13. Magnolia

Year released: 1999.

  • Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
  • Writer: Paul Thomas Anderson
  • Stars: Tom Cruise, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour

Backing it to 1999, Cruise starred in the drama film Magnolia alongside Julianne Moore and Philip Seymour, which was a multiple-plot story about a dying father, young wife, a police officer falling head over heels in love, a genius, an ex-boy genius, a gameshow host, and an estranged daughter who all end up together on a random day in San Fernando Valley. This is definitely a movie where you have to be paying attention at all times because you will be confused if you don’t. Trust us.

12. Jerry Maguire

  • Director: Cameron Crowe
  • Writer: Cameron Crowe
  • Stars: Tom Cruise, Cuba Gooding Jr., Renée Zellweger, Kelly Preston

When sports agent Jerry Maguire (Cruise) has a bad moment of judgment that leads to him getting fired, he is left with no other option but to start his own management firm. In the process of trying to launch his business, Jerry also ends up falling in love. Sports and love stories are always a good watch.

11. War of the Worlds

Year released: 2005.

  • Director: Steven Spielberg
  • Writer: Josh Friedman, David Koepp
  • Stars: Tom Cruise, Miranda Otto, Dakota Fanning, Justin Chatwin

Steven Spielberg and Tom Cruise joined forces on 2005’s War of the Worlds which was about a dockworker (Cruise) struggling to maintain a relationship with his two children. When the kids are dropped off by his ex-wife (Miranda Otto), the weekend takes an unexpected turn when an alien invasion happens. Classic Spielberg. War of the Worlds wound up grossing over $600 million at the box office. Not bad for a movie that originally had a $132 million budget.

10. Collateral

Year released: 2004.

  • Director: Michael Mann
  • Writer: Stuart Beattie
  • Stars: Tom Cruise, Jamie Foxx, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Mark Ruffalo, Javier Bardham

The year prior, Cruise also experienced box office success with the film Collateral , which also starred Jamie Foxx, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Mark Ruffalo, and Javier Bardham. The film is about an LA taxi driver named Max (Foxx) ready to call it a day, when he receives $600 from a sniper in disguise as a businessman (Cruise) to make six extra stops. As it turns out, those six extra stops are actually designated hit checkpoints that Max is now caught in the middle of. It’s not often that we get to see Tom Cruise as the bad guy, so this is a fun one.

9. Rain Man

Year released: 1988.

  • Director: Barry Levinson
  • Writer: Barry Morrow
  • Stars: Tom Cruise, Dustin Hoffman

Rain Man is another Tom Cruise movie that sparks debates over how high it should be ranked, but you can’t deny its emotional heart-tugging effect. Cruise and Dustin Hoffman also made for a pretty good team if you ask us. Grab your tissues because this is definitely one of those films that make you tear up a bit.

8. Born on the Fourth of July

Year released: 1989.

  • Director: Oliver Stone
  • Writer: Ron Kovic
  • Stars: Tom Cruise, Oliver Stone, Willem Dafoe

Another 1980s Tom Cruise classic, Born on the Fourth of July is about a suburban NY teenager who decides to enlist in the marines to honor his patriotism. In his second year of active duty, the teen encounters some difficult challenges when he accidentally kills a fellow soldier and later ends up paralyzed during a battle.

7. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

Year released: 2011.

  • Director: Brad Bird
  • Writer: Jon Applebaum, André Nemec, Christopher McQuarrie
  • Stars: Tom Cruise, Paula Patton, Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner

Cruise returned as Ethan Hunt for the fourth installment of the Mission Impossible series, this time around having to deal with the blame for the terrorist attack on Kremlin. This marks the second time in his career where Hunt has received the blame for something completely out of his control, and once again he is forced to clear his name.

6. Minority Report

Year released: 2002.

  • Writer: Scott Frank, Jon Cohen
  • Stars: Tom Cruise, Samantha Morton, Colin Ferrell, Kathryn Morris

A thriller set in the year 2054, Minority Report is based on the story “Minority Report” by science-fiction writer Philip K. Dick, which is about a police station in Washington D.C. that utilizes psychic technology to help arrest and convict murders before they commit their crimes. Looking back, Minority Report was actually ahead of the game as many films since have mirrored its approach.

5. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

Year released: 2015.

  • Stars: Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Jeremy Renner

Rogue Nation is actually considered the most exciting Mission Impossible film to date (although that can be subjective). Now we’re at the point where the IMF is disbanded, and not only is it dead and gone completely with Hunt being kind of assed out, there’s also a new threat called the Syndicate that is now an immediate problem. It never ends for Ethan Hunt. It just never does.

4. Mission Impossible: Fallout

Year released: 2018.

  • Stars: Tom Cruise, Rebecca Ferguson, Simon Pegg, Henry Cavill

And since it never ends for Ethan Hunt, the sixth film in the series, Fallout , is about the newly rebranded IMF coming together with a CIA assassin to prevent yet another catastrophic event in the making that involves nuclear attacks on the Vatican, Jerusalem, and Saudi Arabia. How we got here from where we started in 1996, we don’t know. What we do know, however, is that Mission Impossible 7 , Dead Reckoning Part One is due out July 14th, 2023.

And apparently it doesn’t end there because Part Two is due out June 2024. Like we said earlier, it never ends for Ethan Hunt. Now would be the time to catch up if you haven’t already.

3. The Color of Money

  • Director: Martin Scorsese
  • Writer: Richard Price
  • Stars: Paul Newman, Tom Cruise

We’re going to take one final trip back to the 80s. The same year Top Gun was released, Cruise also starred in the film The Color of Money alongside Paul Newman, which was about a former pool hustler named Fast Eddie (Newman) who decides to make a return to the game with new young protege Vincent Lauria (Cruise).

2. Edge of Tomorrow

Year released: 2014.

  • Director: Doug Limon
  • Writer: Christopher McQuarrie, Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth
  • Stars: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton

Whether you have Edge of Tomorrow in your personal Tom Cruise top three or not, we can all agree that it is a heck of a film. Just about any movie that has the word “edge” in it is, and this one certainly doesn’t disappoint.

1. Top Gun: Maverick

Year released: 2022.

  • Director: Joseph Kosinski
  • Writer: Ehren Kruger, Eric Warren Singer, Christopher McQuarrie
  • Stars: Tom Cruise, Miles Teller, Val Kilmer, Glen Powell

We had to save the best for last. The highest grossing movie of Tom Cruise’s career which is sitting pretty at $1.4 billion, Cruise proved that he once again is that dude. Not bad for somebody who just turned 60.

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Tom Cruise’s 12 Best Non-Action Movies, Ranked

Tom Cruise is an iconic action star, but these roles are perhaps his most challenging: some are his most overlooked.

Tom Cruise is inarguably one of cinema’s biggest stars, not just in the modern era but throughout the medium’s history. A captivating action hero with a rousing appetite for exhilarating thrills and heart-stopping stunts, his star is set to rise even higher as the Mission: Impossible franchise soars to new heights.

For his many successes, though, ranging from Oscar-nominated performances to major box office draw cards, there have been plenty of outings from the actor which haven’t been met with the recognition they deserved. From villainous roles to biographical dramas, complicated protagonists, and even some early career standouts that remain overlooked, these underrated performances are essential for any Tom Cruise fan.

12 'All the Right Moves' (1983)

Within the context of Tom Cruise’s career, 1983 will be remembered for his breakout role in the sex comedy Risky Business , but another film he made an impact in that year was All the Right Moves . A sports drama, it follows a talented high school footballer whose hopes of escaping his hometown and embarking on a football career are jeopardized following a heated dispute with his coach.

While it doesn’t re-invent coming-of-age drama, it does manage to dodge many of the genre’s clichés and has an air of authenticity and desperation about it which gives it a noticeable punch. It also has an impressive turn from a young Tom Cruise in the starring role despite the film never reaching much of an audience.

11 'Interview with a Vampire' (1994)

Interview with a Vampire was effectively a drama spruced up with fantasy and horror decorum as it focuses on a reporter learning about the life story of a vampire. The bulk of the movie covers Louis’ ( Brad Pitt ) complicated relationship with a daughter-figure in Claudia ( Kirsten Dunst ), a vampire turned as a young girl.

Injecting some life into the gothic dreariness was Tom Cruise’s Lestat de Lioncourt, a wicked antagonistic presence as the eccentric vampire who turned Louis and tried to guide Claudia to become a merciless killer like he was. Cruise was arguably underused in many respects, with his villainous edge a memorable highlight of the film.

10 'The Color of Money' (1986)

Released as a sequel to The Hustler some 25 years after its original release, The Color of Money saw iconic movie star Paul Newman back in the part of the swindling snooker player Eddie Felson. It also co-starred Tom Cruise as Vincent Lauria, a cocky barroom hustler who Felson takes under his wing before making an unlikely comeback.

Buoyed by Martin Scorsese ’s directorial prowess rich with style and punch, the legacy sequel made a splash upon release and even earned Newman an Academy Award for Best Actor. However, the snappy sports drama has gradually faded from the consciousness of mainstream audiences, becoming something of an overlooked gem in Cruise’s filmography as well as Scorsese’s and Newman’s.

9 'Risky Business' (1983)

A major point in Cruise’s acting career, Risky Business didn’t just feature the actor in his first starring role but proved he could lead a feature film as well. Following a high schooler who lets loose when his parents leave him at home alone, the film follows Joel Goodsen (Cruise) as his night of partying leaves him needing to make money quick.

While it is lumped among many of the raunchy sex comedies to come from the '80s – and not wrongfully so – Risky Business did aspire to be more than just 90 minutes of smutty jokes and, for the most part, succeeded. While some of its content may not have aged quite so gracefully, it will always endure as the movie which launched Tom Cruise’s career.

8 'American Made' (2017)

A comedic, biographical crime-drama, American Made perfectly encapsulated the chaotic story of its leading man and the time period in which he thrived. Cruise stars as Barry Seal, an American pilot who is hired by the CIA to gather intel on communist movements in Central America and winds up working as a smuggler for the Medellín cartel.

Director Doug Liman showcases a strong grasp of the narrative’s chaotic tone, allowing comedy, suspense, absurdity, and drama to mesh together amid the film’s energetic pace. Pivotal to executing that well was Cruise’s performance, which showcased the actor’s full skill set, from his comedic prowess to his dramatic intensity.

7 'A Few Good Men' (1992)

With great drama and a predisposition for impactful performances, courtroom dramas have been a staple piece of cinema for almost a century. Delivering a nuanced, more modern spin on the classic genre, A Few Good Men follows a military lawyer defending two soldiers accused of murder who claim they were acting under orders.

It features a riveting script from Aaron Sorkin and plenty of scenery to chew for the cast, all delivering commanding performances with Cruise, Demi Moore , and Jack Nicholson the standouts in the starring roles. With a rousing finale, it has become one of the most iconic films of the 90s and was nominated for four Oscars.

6 'Tropic Thunder' (2008)

Ben Stiller ’s controversial skewering of Hollywood has remained relevant for the 15 years since its release as a polarizing comedy hit adored by some moviegoers and despised by others. It follows the production of a Vietnam War film which, in a bid to achieve realism, drops its troublesome cast into Southeast Asia, where they clash with a local drug operation and have to fight for survival.

Amid its star-studded cast, Tropic Thunder saw Tom Cruise make an unforgettable appearance as Les Grossman, a despicable studio exec with an explosive temper and no moral boundaries. Given Cruise was in a minor lull at the time, the performance revitalized his career and made for one of his most renowned characters.

5 'Eyes Wide Shut' (1999)

As the final film from acclaimed director Stanley Kubrick , Eyes Wide Shut has come to be viewed as a symbolic picture within a filmography more so than a standalone classic, which is a shame. Presented as a complex erotic thriller, it stars Cruise and Nicole Kidman as a married couple who each become consumed with their own obsessions and desires for adulterous relations.

In true Kubrick fashion, the film features a stunning visual display, casting its contemplative lens over the human psyche and modern sexual relationships with pointed precision. Cruise is quite superb as Doctor Bill Harford, mixing curiosity, lust, and fear throughout a disturbing yet captivating journey.

4 'Jerry Maguire' (1996)

A feel-good classic and one of Hollywood’s most noteworthy rom-coms from the '90s, Jerry Maguire excelled as a dazzling sporting romance movie. It starred Cruise in the titular role of Jerry Maguire, a sports agent whose new founded philosophy towards his work sees him fired from his company, taking Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Rod Todwell ( Cuba Gooding Jr. ) as his sole client.

Upon his exit, single mother Dorothy Boyd ( Renée Zellweger ) joins him, and the two begin to develop a relationship. With elements of drama, comedy, sports spectacle, and romantic charm, Jerry Maguire is as triumphant as it is endearingly enjoyable.

3 'Born on the Fourth of July' (1989)

By 1989, Cruise had amassed a body of work proving his comedic prowess and action hero gravitas, but Born on the Fourth of July was arguably where he solidified himself as a genuinely talented actor . The biographical war drama documents the life of Rob Kovac, a veteran of the Vietnam War who, upon returning to America as a paraplegic, became an anti-war and human rights activist.

Playing Kovac as both a dutiful though naïve young solider and as an ailing and enraged political activist, Cruise’s performance had a range and raw intensity not previously seen from the actor. It earned him his first Academy Award nomination, becoming one of his best and most underrated performances.

2 'Rain Man' (1988)

While he’d been a household name throughout much of the 80s, it wasn’t until 1988’s Rain Man that Cruise started to really distance himself from the sex comedy scene he started his career in. The road trip drama follows a snappy car dealer who seeks to claim his inheritance after the death of his estranged father, only to learn it’s been left to the institute, which houses an older brother he wasn’t aware existed.

Bailing Raymond ( Dustin Hoffman ) out of the mental hospital, Charlie (Cruise) hopes to take him across the country in a bid to get his hands on the money left behind. Ranging from bitterly dramatic to blushingly hilarious, the Oscar-winning picture thrived on the back of its two leading men and remains an essential classic to this day.

1 'Magnolia' (1999)

While the director has had many great movies since many would view 1999’s Magnolia to be the magnum opus of Paul Thomas Anderson ’s filmography. The winding, dramatic epic follows a host of loosely connected characters in the San Fernando Valley throughout the course of one day.

One of the film’s more prominent characters is Cruise’s Frank T.J. Mackey, a misogynistic dating guru using his performative charisma to run successful seminars while secretly battling ghosts from his past, which resurface when his father contacts him to tell him he’s dying. As unpleasant as the character was, Cruise's performance was exceptional and even earned him his third Academy Award nomination despite not being viewed by most people as one of his more noteworthy roles.

KEEP READING: Every 'Mission: Impossible' Movies Ranked From Worst to Best

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In the Mood for a Cruise? 10 Films That Will Float Your Boat

Romance, laughter, tears and epic disasters await your viewing pleasure.

Donna Bulseco

April 21, 2023 8:00 am ET

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1931: ‘Monkey Business’

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THE PLOT: Four stowaways get mixed up with sketchy characters while creating havoc on an ocean liner. “Fun and wacky, it’s a good use of the stagy setting,” said Mr. Tabesh about the Marx Brothers’ barrel-of-laughs romp. “In the 1930s, the life of luxury portrayed cinematically on a cruise was pure escapism,” added Mr. Tabesh, who also mentioned 1937’s “Shall We Dance,” with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

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Tom Cruise's Best Movies, Ranked by Rotten Tomatoes Score

Tom Cruise's career is full of box office successes, incredible stunts, and great directors. Here are his best movies, according to Rotten Tomatoes.

Tom Cruise ’s career expands for more than four decades, during which he worked with incredible directors (Spielberg, Kubrick, Scorsese, and Paul Thomas Anderson, to name a few), before becoming a crazy stuntman, who also can start a film. He’s been a pilot, a barman, a killer, a spy, a billiards master, and has saved humanity from aliens, just to name a few of his most famous roles. Here are his best movies according to Rotten Tomatoes .

10 Collateral - 86%

Michael Mann’s Collateral is a double-hander between Cruise as Vincent the killer, and Jamie Foxx as Max the cab driver. This cat-and-mouse story is all about these two characters and how good both are at their jobs. As always, Cruise took his job seriously and even went undercover as a USP courier to learn how to blend in. Mann’s film might be the last time the actor played a bad guy, making us wish for more instances when Cruise takes more chances as the role showed a different side of his acting.

Related: Collateral: Looking Back at Tom Cruise's Underrated Villainous Performance

9 The Color of Money - 88%

Cruise, Newman, and Scorsese; that’s The Color of Money's secret formula. The film might be a sequel to Newman’s The Hustler , but you can see both actors and the director having a great time with it. Cruise plays Vincent with as much panache as possible, contrasting with Newman’s more discreet attitude about playing pool. Newman won an Academy Award for his performance in this movie, and Cruise spent time with two of the greatest ever, while also learning how to play pool.

8 Rain Man - 89%

Rain Man is the story of two brothers on a road trip together. Although the showiest part is Dustin Hoffman as autistic brother Raymond (for which Hoffman won an Academy Award for Best Actor), the movie wouldn’t work without Cruise’s Charlie. His character is not great for much of the film, but bit by bit, scene by scene, he starts to understand his older brother, and in the end, you believe he’ll come back to see him soon.

It might’ve been one of the first films to use a character on the spectrum as one of the leads, while giving the road trip between brothers as much respect and love as it deserves. It’s easy to say that they don’t do movies like this anymore, but… yeah, they don’t do movies like this anymore.

7 Minority Report - 90%

Minority Report had both Cruise and Steven Spielberg at the top of their powers, in a unique story about predicting crimes before they happened. Based on a Philip K. Dick short story, the film had many philosophical ideas, while also showing a future that's not far away from ours (advertisement spam when you enter a store because they know you through your retina isn’t that far away).

The story has many twists and turns to reveal what really happened, and Cruise stars in another action role, while also having something else to play as his character has tragically lost a son and has never forgiven himself. The performances of Colin Farrell, Samantha Morton, and Max von Sydow are also great.

6 Edge of Tomorrow - 91%

Although it was adapted from a Japanese manga, "What if we did Groundhog Day, but fighting aliens" could’ve been the pitch for Edge of Tomorrow . The film stars Cruise as a cowardly marketing executive in the fight against the aliens. After getting mixed with a strange alien substance and dying, his character keeps repeating the same day; D-Day against the aliens, over and over again.

The mix of action, humor, and desperation is what makes this movie a unique one, as we follow how the character starts as an incompetent fighter and, with the help of Rita (Emily Blunt), he becomes a killing machine and the last hope for humanity. The movie was so much fun, that fans keep asking for a sequel.

5 Risky Business - 92%

Risky Business made Tom Cruise a star. He was still very young, and playing the charismatic Joel made him into an A-lister, and he has been one since. The story of a kid that transforms his home into a brothel when his parents aren’t home, and falls in love with a woman with a bad reputation would never get made today, but it was the perfect opportunity to show Cruise's charm and angst in a film that gets more and more thrilling as it goes along.

About the movie, Cruise told Vanity Fair : “The dance [in his underwear] in Risky Business. I remember Paul Brickman called me after he’d seen the rushes and was just over the moon. He was laughing hysterically when we were doing it. He called me and just said, “This is going to be a great scene.”

Related: The 8 Most Essential Tom Cruise Movie Moments, Ranked

4 Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol - 93%

Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol should’ve been Cruise's last film as Ethan Hunt, as they already had Jeremy Renner’s Brandt ready to take the mantle. But the actor had so much fun doing it, even if he got hurt doing some stunts , that the change of guard never happened. The actor's stunt at the top of the tallest building in the world is still the most memorable, but other unique moments come to mind in the film. From the funny prison extraction that starts the movie, to the fight at the Dubai hotel, and Brandt’s reluctance to jump into a fan and trust Benji’s magnets.

3 Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation - 94%

Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation is the first time we meet Ilsa Faust (a magnetic Rebecca Ferguson), an important character from there on out in the franchise. It’s also the movie where the stunts started getting crazier and crazier for Cruise, as he starts the film in a plane (holding with his bare hands from the outside). This movie was the first Mission: Impossible directed by Christopher McQuarrie (the "Cruise whisperer", as they’ve done many projects together). The picture had so many unique action scenes and fun, adrenaline-fueled moments, that it made sense for McQuarrie to be the first to repeat as a director for the franchise. McQuarrie is also in the process of directing both parts of Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning.

2 Top Gun: Maverick - 96%

Top Gun: Maverick is the return of Maverick (Cruise) to the Top Gun school to teach a new class of pilots in what might be the most dangerous mission ever. Cruise is great in the film and should’ve gotten an Oscar nomination for his performance, as he's all charisma. He also shows some regret about what happened in the first film with Goose, wants to be a father figure to Rooster (Miles Teller), and has the best romantic chemistry of his career with Penny (Jennifer Connelly). The movie became such a box office success that it’s Tom Cruise highest grossing film ever , and with his career, that’s saying something.

1 Mission: Impossible - Fallout - 97%

Mission: Impossible - Fallout has some of the best stunts in the franchise (at least until the next one). Ethan Hunt (Cruise) battles his biggest adversary yet, Walker/John Lark (Henry Cavill) and the apostles, in the film that had everything; skydiving, bathroom brawls, helicopter driving, Paris persecutions, and so much Cruise running (he even broke his ankle in one jump after a long-running sequence). For all those things, this film directed by Christopher McQuarrie is the best of all the Mission: Impossible films (even better than the Brian De Palma-directed one), as it delivers action scenes never seen before, a pretty good villain, some banter with Benji (Simon Pegg) and Luther (Ving Rhames), and even the return of his ex-wife, Julia (Michelle Monaghan).

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Cruise Ships Movies

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  • Movies or TV
  • IMDb Rating
  • In Theaters
  • Release Year

1. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)

Approved | 91 min | Comedy, Musical, Romance

Showgirls Lorelei Lee and Dorothy Shaw travel to Paris, pursued by a private detective hired by the suspicious father of Lorelei's fiancé, as well as a rich, enamored old man and many other doting admirers.

Director: Howard Hawks | Stars: Jane Russell , Marilyn Monroe , Charles Coburn , Elliott Reid

Votes: 41,668 | Gross: $12.00M

2. Titanic (1953)

Not Rated | 98 min | Drama, History, Romance

An unhappily married couple struggle to deal with their problems while on board the luxurious, ill-fated RMS Titanic.

Director: Jean Negulesco | Stars: Clifton Webb , Barbara Stanwyck , Robert Wagner , Audrey Dalton

Votes: 7,507 | Gross: $4.91M

3. Titanic (1997)

PG-13 | 194 min | Drama, Romance

A seventeen-year-old aristocrat falls in love with a kind but poor artist aboard the luxurious, ill-fated R.M.S. Titanic.

Director: James Cameron | Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio , Kate Winslet , Billy Zane , Kathy Bates

Votes: 1,253,000 | Gross: $659.33M

4. The Legend of 1900 (1998)

R | 169 min | Drama, Music, Romance

A baby boy discovered on an ocean liner in 1900 grows into a musical prodigy, never setting foot on land.

Director: Giuseppe Tornatore | Stars: Tim Roth , Pruitt Taylor Vince , Mélanie Thierry , Bill Nunn

Votes: 68,001 | Gross: $0.26M

5. The Sea Chase (1955)

Approved | 117 min | Action, Drama, War

As World War II begins, German freighter Captain Karl Ehrlich tries to get his ship back to Germany through a gauntlet of Allied warships.

Director: John Farrow | Stars: John Wayne , Lana Turner , David Farrar , Lyle Bettger

Votes: 3,364

6. Dark Journey (1937)

Not Rated | 77 min | Adventure, Crime, Romance

During World War I, a German spy and a French spy meet and fall in love.

Director: Victor Saville | Stars: Conrad Veidt , Vivien Leigh , Joan Gardner , Anthony Bushell

Votes: 1,407

7. Final Voyage (1999)

R | 95 min | Action, Drama, Thriller

This is the story of a modern day pirate mad man and his crew of 8, searching for fortune on a cruise ship but a small group of passengers fight back.

Director: Jim Wynorski | Stars: Dylan Walsh , Ice-T , Erika Eleniak , Claudia Christian

8. An Affair to Remember (1957)

Not Rated | 115 min | Drama, Romance

A couple falls in love and agrees to meet in six months at the Empire State Building - but will it happen?

Director: Leo McCarey | Stars: Cary Grant , Deborah Kerr , Richard Denning , Neva Patterson

Votes: 32,295

9. King Kong (1933)

Passed | 100 min | Adventure, Horror, Sci-Fi

A film crew goes to a tropical island for a location shoot, where they capture a colossal ape who takes a shine to their blonde starlet, and bring him back to New York City.

Directors: Merian C. Cooper , Ernest B. Schoedsack | Stars: Fay Wray , Robert Armstrong , Bruce Cabot , Frank Reicher

Votes: 89,392 | Gross: $10.00M

10. The Sea Wolf (1941)

Approved | 100 min | Adventure, Drama

After being fished out of the sea by a sailer, three fugitives find themselves prisoners of the ship's brutal skipper who refuses to put them ashore and they hatch an escape plan during a crew mutiny.

Director: Michael Curtiz | Stars: Edward G. Robinson , Ida Lupino , John Garfield , Alexander Knox

Votes: 4,321

11. Now, Voyager (1942)

Passed | 117 min | Drama, Romance

A frumpy spinster blossoms under therapy and becomes an elegant, independent woman.

Director: Irving Rapper | Stars: Bette Davis , Paul Henreid , Claude Rains , Gladys Cooper

Votes: 18,406

12. The Poseidon Adventure (1972)

PG | 117 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

A group of passengers must embark on a harrowing struggle for survival after a rogue wave capsizes their cruise ship at sea.

Director: Ronald Neame | Stars: Gene Hackman , Ernest Borgnine , Shelley Winters , Red Buttons

Votes: 48,151 | Gross: $84.56M

13. Poseidon (2006)

PG-13 | 98 min | Action, Adventure, Thriller

On New Year's Eve, the luxury ocean liner Poseidon capsizes after being swamped by a rogue wave. The survivors are left to fight for their lives as they attempt to escape the sinking ship.

Director: Wolfgang Petersen | Stars: Richard Dreyfuss , Kurt Russell , Emmy Rossum , Josh Lucas

Votes: 108,883 | Gross: $60.67M

14. Boat Trip (2002)

R | 94 min | Comedy

Two straight men mistakenly end up on a "gays only" cruise.

Director: Mort Nathan | Stars: Cuba Gooding Jr. , Horatio Sanz , Roselyn Sanchez , Vivica A. Fox

Votes: 32,122 | Gross: $8.59M

15. The Last Voyage (1960)

Approved | 91 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

After a boiler explosion aboard an aging ocean liner, a man struggles to free his injured wife from the wreckage of their cabin and ensure the safety of their four-year-old daughter as the ship begins to sink.

Director: Andrew L. Stone | Stars: Robert Stack , Dorothy Malone , George Sanders , Edmond O'Brien

Votes: 2,392

16. A Night to Remember (1958)

Not Rated | 123 min | Drama, History

On her maiden voyage in April 1912, the supposedly unsinkable RMS Titanic strikes an iceberg in the Atlantic Ocean.

Director: Roy Ward Baker | Stars: Kenneth More , Ronald Allen , Robert Ayres , Honor Blackman

Votes: 16,768

17. Ship of Fools (1965)

Not Rated | 149 min | Drama, Romance, War

A varied group of passengers boarding a ship bound for pre-WWII Germany represents a microcosm of early 1930s society.

Director: Stanley Kramer | Stars: Vivien Leigh , Simone Signoret , José Ferrer , Lee Marvin

Votes: 6,758

18. Out to Sea (1997)

PG-13 | 106 min | Comedy, Romance

A failed gambler, intent on meeting a rich widow, tricks his widowed brother-in-law into boarding a cruise ship as dance hosts.

Director: Martha Coolidge | Stars: Jack Lemmon , Walter Matthau , Dyan Cannon , Gloria DeHaven

Votes: 9,360 | Gross: $27.97M

19. Speed 2: Cruise Control (1997)

PG-13 | 121 min | Action, Adventure, Crime

A computer hacker breaks into the computer system of the Seabourn Legend cruise liner and sets it speeding on a collision course into a gigantic oil tanker.

Director: Jan de Bont | Stars: Sandra Bullock , Jason Patric , Willem Dafoe , Temuera Morrison

Votes: 84,820 | Gross: $48.61M

20. Beyond the Poseidon Adventure (1979)

PG | 114 min | Action, Adventure

An extension of the previous film, wherein a group of adventurers return to the overturned ship to seek several fortunes.

Director: Irwin Allen | Stars: Michael Caine , Sally Field , Telly Savalas , Peter Boyle

Votes: 5,761

21. Juggernaut (1974)

PG | 109 min | Action, Drama, Thriller

A blackmailer demands a huge ransom in exchange for information on how to disarm the seven bombs he placed aboard the transatlantic liner Britannic.

Director: Richard Lester | Stars: Richard Harris , Omar Sharif , David Hemmings , Anthony Hopkins

Votes: 6,188 | Gross: $1.56M

22. Romance on the High Seas (1948)

Approved | 99 min | Comedy, Musical, Mystery

Romantic misunderstandings abound when spouses suspect each other of being unfaithful, and a nightclub singer takes a cruise under a false identity.

Directors: Michael Curtiz , Busby Berkeley | Stars: Jack Carson , Janis Paige , Doris Day , Don DeFore

Votes: 2,674

23. Dodsworth (1936)

Passed | 101 min | Drama, Romance

A retired auto manufacturer and his wife take a long-planned European vacation only to find that they want very different things from life.

Director: William Wyler | Stars: Walter Huston , Ruth Chatterton , Paul Lukas , Mary Astor

Votes: 9,911

24. Going Overboard (1989)

R | 99 min | Comedy

A struggling young comedian takes a menial job on a cruise ship hoping for his big chance to make it in the world of cruise-ship comedy.

Director: Valerie Breiman | Stars: Adam Sandler , Billy Bob Thornton , Billy Zane , Burt Young

Votes: 14,290

25. The Bermuda Triangle (1978)

G | 112 min | Horror, Sci-Fi, Mystery

The passengers and crew of a ship on a scuba diving trip in the Caribbean stray into the famed Bermuda Triangle, and mysterious and deadly things start happening.

Director: René Cardona Jr. | Stars: John Huston , Andrés García , Hugo Stiglitz , Gloria Guida

Votes: 1,598

26. Death on the Nile (1978)

PG | 140 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

As Hercule Poirot enjoys a luxurious cruise down the Nile, a newlywed heiress is found murdered on board. Can Poirot identify the killer before the ship reaches the end of its journey?

Director: John Guillermin | Stars: Peter Ustinov , Mia Farrow , Simon MacCorkindale , Jane Birkin

Votes: 38,394

27. Charlie Chan's Murder Cruise (1940)

Passed | 76 min | Crime, Mystery

Charlie tries to discover the identity of a strangler who strikes multiple times on a cruise ship bound from Honolulu to California.

Director: Eugene Forde | Stars: Sidney Toler , Marjorie Weaver , Lionel Atwill , Victor Sen Yung

Votes: 1,442

28. Fascination Amour (1999)

95 min | Comedy, Romance

Lau is a spoiled playboy who's on fiancée number 8 - and makes sport of getting rid of them. With his entourage (including an amusing Anthony Wong) in tow, he boards the cruise ship ... See full summary  »

Director: Herman Yau | Stars: Andy Lau , Hikari Ishida , Astrid Chi Ching Chan , Nelson Cheung

30. Titanic (1943)

TV-PG | 85 min | Action, Drama, History

Third Reich's Nazi propaganda epic about a heroic fictional German officer on board of the RMS Titanic. On its maiden voyage in April 1912, the supposedly unsinkable ship hits an iceberg in the Atlantic Ocean and starts to go down.

Directors: Herbert Selpin , Werner Klingler | Stars: Sybille Schmitz , Hans Nielsen , Kirsten Heiberg , Ernst Fritz Fürbringer

Votes: 1,735

31. The Chambermaid on the Titanic (1997)

101 min | Drama, Romance

An ordinary foundry worker fakes a love story between him and the chambermaid from RMS Titanic. When ship sinks and chambermaid probably dies, his story gains popularity. But lie always has its price.

Director: Bigas Luna | Stars: Olivier Martinez , Romane Bohringer , Aitana Sánchez-Gijón , Didier Bezace

Votes: 1,452 | Gross: $0.24M

32. Atlantic (1929)

Not Rated | 90 min | Drama

On its maiden voyage in April 1912, the supposedly unsinkable RMS Titanic hits an iceberg in the Atlantic Ocean.

Director: Ewald André Dupont | Stars: Franklin Dyall , Madeleine Carroll , John Stuart , Ellaline Terriss

33. Table for Five (1983)

PG | 122 min | Drama, Romance

J.P. Tannen takes his three children for a vacation cruise. They usually live with their mother and stepfather, but now J.P. feels capable of taking them. Emotional tragedy strikes, causing... See full summary  »

Director: Robert Lieberman | Stars: Jon Voight , Richard Crenna , Marie-Christine Barrault , Millie Perkins

Votes: 835 | Gross: $2.44M

34. Monkey Business (1931)

Not Rated | 77 min | Comedy, Family, Musical

On a transatlantic crossing, The Marx Brothers get up to their usual antics and manage to annoy just about everyone on board the ship.

Director: Norman Z. McLeod | Stars: Groucho Marx , Harpo Marx , The Marx Brothers , Chico Marx

Votes: 14,063

35. Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)

R | 100 min | Adventure, Horror, Thriller

Jason Voorhees is accidentally awakened from his watery grave, and he ends up stalking a ship full of graduating high school students headed to Manhattan, NY.

Director: Rob Hedden | Stars: Jensen Daggett , Kane Hodder , Todd Caldecott , Tiffany Paulsen

Votes: 42,107 | Gross: $14.34M

36. Shall We Dance (1937)

Approved | 109 min | Comedy, Musical, Romance

A ballet dancer and a showgirl fake a marriage for publicity purposes, then fall in love.

Director: Mark Sandrich | Stars: Fred Astaire , Ginger Rogers , Edward Everett Horton , Eric Blore

Votes: 7,747

37. Royal Wedding (1951)

Not Rated | 93 min | Comedy, Musical, Romance

A brother and sister dance act encounter challenges and romance when booked in London during the Royal Wedding.

Director: Stanley Donen | Stars: Fred Astaire , Jane Powell , Peter Lawford , Sarah Churchill

Votes: 5,948

38. Doctor in Trouble (1970)

R | 90 min | Comedy

Dr. Tony Burke (Leslie Phillips) is in love with Ophelia O'Brien (Angela Scoular), but doesn't have time to propose to her as she leaves for a cruise to the Mediterranean. Also, on-board ... See full summary  »

Director: Ralph Thomas | Stars: Leslie Phillips , Harry Secombe , James Robertson Justice , Angela Scoular

39. Blondie Goes Latin (1941)

Approved | 68 min | Comedy, Family, Music

Dagwood disguises himself as a drummer in the ship's conga band to sneak aboard a South American cruise ship. Blondie performs several song-and-dance routines.

Directors: Frank R. Strayer , Robert Sparks | Stars: Penny Singleton , Arthur Lake , Larry Simms , Daisy

40. Assault on a Queen (1966)

Approved | 106 min | Adventure, Crime, Thriller

A motley crew of treasure hunters plan to rob the cruise-liner RMS Queen Mary, using a recovered WW2 German submarine.

Director: Jack Donohue | Stars: Frank Sinatra , Virna Lisi , Anthony Franciosa , Richard Conte

Votes: 1,219

41. Ghost Ship (2002)

R | 91 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

A salvage crew discovers a long-lost 1962 passenger ship floating lifeless in a remote region of the Bering Sea, and soon notices that its long-dead inhabitants may still be on board.

Director: Steve Beck | Stars: Julianna Margulies , Gabriel Byrne , Ron Eldard , Desmond Harrington

Votes: 107,499 | Gross: $30.11M

42. Voyage of the Damned (1976)

PG | 155 min | Drama, War

The tragic 1939 voyage of SS St. Louis carrying hundreds of German Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany that seemingly no nation is willing to save from certain doom.

Director: Stuart Rosenberg | Stars: Faye Dunaway , Oskar Werner , Lee Grant , Sam Wanamaker

Votes: 3,316

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7 Great Movies that Take Place on a Cruise

  • Sarah Bretz, Contributor
  • July 27, 2016

Most of us can probably say we love to watch a good movie now and then – especially ones that are centered on travel and adventure!  But did you know there are lots of films out there that are set fully or partially on our favorite method of transportation – cruise ships?  We’ve rounded up seven movies about cruising to watch…and this list is not extensive, so see what other ones you can find too!

In this article:

1. Romance on the High Seas

2. jack and jill, 3. out to sea, 4. alvin and the chipmunks: chipwrecked, 5. assault on a queen, 6. speed 2: cruise control, 7. the parent trap.

This 1948 romance/comedy finds Doris Day’s character Georgia on a cruise instead of her friend Elvira – who backed out of her anniversary trip because she suspected her husband was cheating.  Little does Elvira know, her husband thinks she actually is on the cruise…and has hired a detective to spy on her.

DVD can be bought on Amazon by clicking here.

Adam Sandler plays twins Jack and Jill in this hilarious 2011 comedy (yes he plays both!) aboard  Allure of the Seas.   Jill comes to visit for the holiday’s, and together with their family they head out on a cruise vacation.  They get off on the wrong foot, and hilarity ensues.  Although this is considered one of the worst movies ever made, it still showcases a lot of  Allure ‘s awesome features – so you decide whether you want to sit through it.

Can be rented on Amazon Instant Video.

Retired friends Charlie (Walter Matthau) and Herb (Jack Lemmon) pose as dance instructors on this much loved 1997 film.  Charlie convinces his recently widowed brother-in-law to come on the cruise, not telling him that he’ll need to dance.  Ship scenes were filmed aboard Holland America’s original  Westerdam  (now  Thomson Dream ).

This 2011 movie is the third installment in the live-action chipmunks series, and this time the chipmunks, chipettes, and Dave go on a cruise aboard  Carnival Dream  for a musical awards show.  As usual, havoc erupts, and they find themselves on a deserted island.  This is a perfect movie for families to watch to get excited for an upcoming cruise.

As you’ve probably guessed from the title, this 1966 film takes place on a Cunard ship –  Queen Mary  to be exact.  In it, Frank Sinatra (Mark) is a diver hired to search for sunken treasure.  He finds a U-boat, and their plan turns into a scheme to use the submarine to rob  Queen Mary. 

After saving a bus full of people in the first  Speed  movie, Annie (Sandra Bullock) is looking forward to a relaxing cruise with her boyfriend in this 1997 movie.  Their vacation becomes dangerous, though, when an explosion disables the ship’s communication and they realize someone else is controlling the vessel.  The film takes place aboard the luxury  Seabourn Legend  (now  Star Legend ).

While much of this 1998 movie takes place on land, there are some scenes set on a cruise ship, and I couldn’t help but include it.  Lindsay Lohan plays twins (yes, another twins movie where one person plays both!) that are working hard to reunite their parents, who haven’t seen each other in years.  While the ship scenes are set aboard  Queen Elizabeth 2,  they were actually filmed on  Queen Mary , which is docked in Long Beach, California.

This article contains Amazon affiliate links.

#cruisemovies #cruise #vacation #ship #movies #films #cinema #parenttrap #travel

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From Virgin Voyages to Carnival: These 10 cruises are worth the money, travelers say


When it comes to a cruise vacation, it's all aboard. An October survey from Condé Nast Traveler  revealed that 47% of people said they would be interested in setting sail on a ship.

A study by the Cruise Lines International Association also found that traveling by cruise is becoming one of the fastest-growing tourism sectors.

In October, U.S. News and World Report published its 2023 ranking of the best cruises for the money. The report ranked the top ships out of 17 of the most popular ocean cruise lines and gave them a rating of one through five.

U.S. News and World Report ranked the cruise lines based on the following factors:

  • Average overall rating
  • Average nightly pricing on a scale of one to five
  • Value-added benefits included in the base fare, such as prepaid gratuities, free onboard Wi-Fi access, etc.

Virgin Voyages is worth the money, travelers say

Overall rating: 4.39

Created by British entrepreneur Richard Branson, Virgin Voyages ranked as the best cruise line for the money.

The adults-only cruise has three ships in the fleet, with a fourth debuting in 2024. Virgin Voyages stands out thanks to its free Wi-Fi access onboard, over 20 dining venues, unlimited group workouts and all essential drinks, which include sodas, drip coffee, water and more.

All Virgin Voyage ships are nearly identical and feature similar layouts, according to the U.S. News and World Report. The cruise line offers sailings to the Caribbean, Europe and the South Pacific and has ports in Miami, Puerto Rico, Spain and more.

According to Bloomberg , rates start at $1,550 per double-occupancy cabin.

Top 10 cruise lines that are worth the money

  • Virgin Voyages
  • Celebrity Cruises
  • Princess Cruises
  • Royal Caribbean International
  • Holland America Line
  • MSC Cruises
  • Carnival Cruise Line
  • Norwegian Cruise Line
  • Cunard Line
  • Costa Cruises

Celebrity Cruises is the No. 2 cruise line that is worth the money, according to travelers. It has an overall rating of 4.36.

The line has 16 ships and stops in Asia, the Caribbean, Europe and more. Each ship carries approximately one crew member for every two passengers, according to the report.

Voyages range anywhere from three to 18 nights. Since late 2020, Celebrity Cruises has included free Wi-Fi, unlimited drinks and daily gratuities in its base fare .

Princess Cruises ranked as the No. 3 cruise line for the money, with an overall rating of 4.02.

It is the fifth largest cruise line in the world with 17 ships and trips that last between two and 116 days. It sails to popular destinations in Europe, the Caribbean, Alaska and more.

Princess Cruises has approximately one crew member for every two or three passengers, according to the report.

As an homage to its Hollywood debut on the 1977 TV series, "The Love Boat," Princess Cruises offers versatile itineraries like "Movies Under the Stars" poolside screenings and their takes on "The Voice," "Deal or No Deal" and more.

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I bought an abandoned lighthouse for $71,000 in Fairport Harbor, Ohio—take a look inside

Far & Wide

Far & Wide

Worst Cruise Ships in the World, Ranked

Posted: November 10, 2023 | Last updated: November 10, 2023

The cruising industry was hit hard by the pandemic. Despite more cancellations in recent news, we're hoping for a comeback in the near future. After all, more than 26 million passengers set sail in 2018 — a 3 percent year-over-year increase from previous years — so who's to say those numbers can't eventually return?

Carrying thousands of passengers on ships that are five times bigger than the Titanic, cruise lines have amped up the bells and whistles to convince travelers to ride the seas with them. From Broadway-worthy shows, to celebrity-inspired menus, to gigantic water parks and thrill rides, cruises can be an amazing vacation. However, with more than 300 cruise ships, not all of them can be winners.

Here, we take a look at some of the worst cruise ships to take. See which of the ships you should skip — and which to sail instead.

Royal Caribbean's Ovation of the Seas

Royal Caribbean is actually a fabulous cruise line with many top-rate amenities, cabins and excursions.  If  you pick the right ship.

With 27 ships, there are bound to be a few that slip through the cracks, and for RCCL, one of those is Ovation of the Seas.

Reviewers are not impressed with the ship's cramped dining spaces and pool, average-at-best food and, as one reviewer puts it, "SO MANY GIMMICKS" — including robot bartenders that don't add much to the experience.

The one bright spot? The ship's size, which several reviewers note is, at the least, impressive. (Its maximum occupancy is nearly 5,000 passengers.)

*Note: Reviews and ratings come from leading cruise-review website .

Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas

Royal Caribbean's other stinker is also part of its Quantum Class. When the ship was built in 2014, it was Royal Caribbean's largest ship. And at the time it launched, CruiseCritic loved it, giving it a rating of 4 out of 5 stars. 

As the years have passed, though, the aging ship has been surpassed by even larger ships by Royal Caribbean, which means it was sent to China and no longer services the Caribbean market. And passengers have noticed.

Reviewers repeatedly express that the ship is intended for a Chinese audience, "with little or no consideration for the nearly 40 percent non-Chinese." 

Other complaints? Cold food and long wait times to board.

For more about the worst cruise ships, check out Far & Wide

Not all cruise ships are created equal.

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I've been on 6 cruise ships — here's how they compare and the one I would recommend

  • Since 2021, I've spent at least one night on six ships, all with different cruise lines.
  • These companies, including Margaritaville and Royal Caribbean, target a variety of demographics.
  • They each have their pros and cons , but Royal Caribbean's Wonder of the Seas is my favorite.

Insider Today

Throughout the past two years, I've spent at least one night on six ships, all with different cruise lines. While they've all varied in prices and target demographics, one has stood out as my clear favorite.

By no means do I love cruises — the shows can be tacky, the food can be mediocre, and I'm easily bored. If I weren't a travel reporter, I'd probably never board these floating resorts. But duty calls, and since 2021 I've been invited to several nonrevenue media sailings or overnighters with cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean, Oceania, and Norwegian.

While I've been unsurprisingly critical of some cruise ships, others have won me over. Let's take a closer look at the six ships I've been on and the one I'd recommend.

Celebrity Cruises' Celebrity Apex: trendy but boring

In late 2021, I boarded the new $1 billion Celebrity Apex for its two-night naming ceremony. At the time, I hadn't been on a cruise in more than 10 years. (As a kid with parents who liked cruises, I remember disliking them.)

The Apex wasn't designed for "zillennials" like me. Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, the cruise line's former CEO, told Insider at the time that Celebrity targeted Gen X customers . Despite this disconnect, the Apex had some of the best-designed and -decorated spaces I've seen on a ship.

Places such as Eden (a restaurant, bar, and entertainment venue) were attractive and trendy, while the Rooftop Garden looked just the way its name promised. Even the outdoor lounges and frequently overlooked atrium were more exciting than most ships' — the latter had a martini bar that sat under the glow of an LED chandelier.

While my 243-square-foot Infinite Veranda stateroom had some dull decor, the natural light from the large wall of windows made my tiny cabin feel large.

Where these spaces shined, the dining didn't: I wasn't wowed by any of my meals, including my dinner at Le Petit Chef . Here, overhead projectors displayed an animated storyline on the dining table. But this gimmick wasn't enough to overshadow the disappointingly mediocre food.

Ultimately, I faced the same dilemma I remembered as a child: boredom. While the theater was grand, I wasn't wowed by the nighttime show. And as I said at the time, I could wade around the pool only so many times and eat and drink so much. While I loved the design of spaces such as the Magic Carpet, an outdoor extension that moves vertically between decks, I couldn't spend all day staring at it.

If I were here on a weeklong vacation, I'd be twiddling my thumbs by day three.

Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Prima: fun with a great food hall

In October 2022, I was invited on the four-night inaugural sailing for the $1.1 billion Norwegian Prima . It was the first time I had ever enjoyed being on a cruise.

Four nights is long for a cynic like me. But to my surprise, I was consistently entertained by the Prima's long list of amenities , including modern dartboards, a VR arcade, a mini-golf course, and a thrilling free-fall dry slide. These activities — along with the outdoor game court and go-kart track — could've kept me entertained for another day or two at sea.

My 230-square-foot balcony stateroom was also well-designed and modern: I appreciated the roomy bathroom, storage options, and contemporary feel. But the bedding was mediocre, the balcony was tiny, and the "mural" behind the bed and couch was a tacky eyesore.

On the plus side, the Prima had my favorite dining venue of all six ships: an 11-restaurant food hall with tableside tablet ordering systems. Instead of going to a buffet to pick at heat-lamp-fresh leftovers, this concept gave hungry travelers such as me a convenient way to try Indian curries and Singaporean-inspired noodles in one sitting.

But the greatest shock of all was the enjoyable nighttime entertainment, specifically Norwegian's rendition of the Broadway-approved "Summer: The Donna Summer Musical" and "The Price Is Right Live." I found myself giggling throughout the latter.

This, combined with the fun activities and food options, made sailing on the Prima an entertaining experience that I would consider booking again.

Royal Caribbean International's Wonder of the Seas: overstimulating and packed with activities

After boarding the Wonder of the Seas in December 2022, I think Royal Caribbean's big bet on mega cruise ships is paying off. My two-night sailing on the world's biggest cruise ship just wasn't enough time to test all of the ship's amenities.

At its massive size, there was plenty of room for "neighborhoods," such as a boardwalk, a park, an outdoor entertainment center with activities such as a zipline, and a colorful pool deck with water slides. Several of these spaces looked more like those of an amusement park than a cruise liner.

The list of Wonder of the Seas' amenities , which included some I'd never seen on a ship before, seemed endless. If it managed to overwhelm me for two nights, I'm sure it'd keep any family booked and busy.

From an ice-skating show to an exhilarating outdoor swim, dive, and dance performance, the entertainment options were also diverse. The former was a bore — I left early. But the dramatics and coordination of the latter made it the most impressive cruise-ship show I've ever seen.

Onto the negatives — to start, the food quality wasn't consistent. While my buffet and dinner meals at Hooked Seafood were satisfactory, the dry and flavorless fried chicken at the new-to-brand Mason Jar was disappointing.

My balcony stateroom was also a massive letdown. Sure, it had all the essentials , large storage units, and a clothesline in the shower. But the bathroom wouldn't be comfortable for two people, water splashed out of the sink basin whenever I washed my hands, and the bland decor was a stark contrast from the sensory overload of the rest of the ship. The stateroom looked more utilitarian than it did fun.

Margaritaville at Sea's Paradise: cheap and quick

The Margaritaville empire's nascent cruise line exclusively operates two-night round-trip sailings like clockwork from Palm Beach, Florida, to Freeport, Bahamas. It's a great cruise for budget travelers — most of these dates can be booked for well under $200 a person, including some at $50.

But Margaritaville at Sea's attraction ends at its eye-catching fares. When I attended the ship's one-night inaugural sailing in May 2022, I realized travelers get what they pay for: a very old ship. Before it adopted Jimmy Buffetts' branding , Margaritaville at Sea was the budget operator Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line, and the Paradise was its 30-year-old flagship Grand Classica vessel.

Sure, the vessel had some references to Buffett in the names of its venues, signage, and wall art. But besides that and a handful of new decor (shown above), it didn't seem as if the ship had undergone a massive cosmetic overhaul to align with the Margaritaville brand.

Instead, the Paradise looked out of style and place compared with other properties in the hospitality giant's portfolio. And when I tried to use the public restroom on the pool deck, the flush almost fell off its mount.

Similarly, instead of an immersive Margaritaville accommodation with beach-cottage-like decor, my 176-square-foot oceanview stateroom was bare and looked as old as the original song. While functional, the dark lines in my bathroom shower looked dirty, while the yellowish walls and wood accents made my cabin feel outdated and unkempt.

On the plus side, my meal at JWB Prime Steakhouse might have been one of the best steakhouse dinners I've ever had. But guests have to pay extra to eat there.

The cruise line has since spent millions of dollars updating areas such as the staterooms and adding amenities such as a pickleball court. I haven't boarded the ship since this refresh. But my first experience has left me so cynical that I don't plan on giving it a second try. I'm not sure a few million dollars is enough to fix its " Spirit Airlines of the Sea " reputation.

Explora Journeys' Explora I: luxurious, expensive, and boring

MSC Group's new Explora Journeys is a growing luxury-cruise brand you probably haven't heard of. I spent one night on its first $560 million Explora I ship in October while it was docked in New York City, and I think the new brand made a great first attempt at breaking into the luxury market.

While my ocean terrace suite was the smallest cabin on the ship, it was more luxurious than any hotel I've paid for. My cabin's walk-in closet, welcome bottle of Veuve Clicquot, Dyson hairdryer, and balcony daybed won me over. But the cheapest itinerary in 2024 comes out to $500 a day per person — it's up to you if you think these little luxuries justify this steep price.

Like the Wonder of the Seas, there were spaces aboard the ship that looked nothing like an average cruise vessel. Instead of a typical atrium, upscale stores such as Rolex and Cartier surrounded what looked like a hotel bar. And instead of a large central pool deck, the Explora I had four smaller pools, including an infinity pool and one under a retractable glass roof.

At its price, it's fair to expect luxury food. The thinly sliced wagyu at the pan-Asian Sakura was one of the best dishes I've had on a ship. But I preferred my own baked miso cod to the one I was served.

Luckily, the ship didn't have any splashy "production-style shows" for me to turn my nose up at. But once again, I'm not sure how much time I can spend in the spa or at the outdoor gym before I'm bored. So, while I appreciated the rows of cabanas and modern lounges, I think a weeklong vacation on the Explora I would be too quiet for me.

Oceania Cruises' Vista: upscale but boring

In late September, I spent one night on Oceania Cruises' Vista while it was docked in New York City. I think the new ship is a great option for mature travelers who are interested in higher-end cruises but don't want to pay for the likes of Regent Seven Seas.

For a food-focused cruise line, my dinner in the Grand Dining Room had luxurious options such as monkfish and caviar. But in retrospect, it was memorable only because of the ingredients, not the taste. Unfortunately, my lobster didn't beat the comforts of Norwegian Prima's food hall or the wagyu from Explora.

Appropriately for a premium cruise ship, my veranda stateroom was lined with one of the largest balconies I've ever had. And small details such as designated cup holders in the bathroom, a complimentary beverage station, and Bulgari toiletries made it stand out from any veranda cabin on a mass-market cruise ship.

Like my accommodations, the Vista's common spaces, such as the library lounge, had an upscale flair. Even the circular daybed-lined pool deck was more elevated and modern than the typical cruise-ship pool surrounded by generic lounge chairs. And while there were no water slides or arcades, there was a large putting green and walking track.

Unsurprisingly, I did not enjoy the cringy "Headliners'' evening song-and-dance show. And because I had limited time on the ship, I didn't get to experience activities such as cooking or art classes. This might have made a difference — but in the end, I again found the ship to be too calm for my liking.

The verdict: Royal Caribbean's Wonder of the Seas is my favorite

While I appreciated the upscale qualities of Explora and Oceania's vessels, I couldn't imagine spending more than three days on either ship. Similarly, while Margaritaville at Sea Paradise's cheap costs are enticing, I don't plan to sail on it again.

My favorite cruise liners are the ones with engaging activities and creative spaces that don't look like those of a typical ship. The Wonder of the Seas executed all of this — more than the Norwegian Prima — perfectly, enough to make me overlook the sore spots of my stateroom and mediocre meal. Because of this, it's the one ship I'll continue recommending to most cruise fans.

But that doesn't mean it has to be your favorite. If your priority is a cheap, quick-and-dirty getaway, Margaritaville at Sea Paradise is great. If you want something luxurious but don't want to spend too much, try the Oceania Vista — or the Explora I if you really want to ball out. And if you're traveling with children, Royal Caribbean's Wonder of the Seas and the Norwegian Prima are great options. The latter two are the only ones I'd consider booking again.

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