30 Best Tom Cruise Movies

For decades, Tom Cruise has been the heart of Hollywood. With countless iconic movies, his star power is undeniable.

Despite controversies, Cruise remains one of Hollywood’s top-grossing stars. Raised in poverty with an abusive father, he found his passion for acting after being kicked off the football team for drinking.

His breakthrough came in his school’s Guys and Dolls, igniting his dream. He moved to New York and then Los Angeles, debuting in Endless Love and earning a supporting role in Taps. His breakout moment came in Risky Business, dazzling audiences with his unforgettable lip-sync performance. Let’s take a look at the best 30 movies he’s starred in throughout his career.

30. The Color of Money (1985)

Directed by Martin Scorsese, The Color of Money featured two legendary actors at different stages of their careers. An aged Paul Newman acted opposite a young Tom Cruise in a film about hustling in pool halls.

While it’s not as strong of a movie on this topic when compared to the immortal drama of The Hustle, it’s still a treat to see Cruise alongside Newman in a Martin Scorsese film.

29. The Last Samurai (2003)

With long hair and a beard, Cruise donned military attire for his role as American Captain Nathan Algren. While serving with forces in late-1800s Japan, he soon traded in his threads for samurai armor, allying himself with the Japanese amid a rebellion.

Director Edward Zwick places Cruise in some grand and exciting battles, evoking some of Cruise’s finer acting skills of military questioning previously seen in Born on the Fourth of July. It’s worth watching as Cruise shares many scenes with the legendary Ken Watanabe.

28. Far and Away (1992)

Tom Cruise ventured into the past with Far and Away, an epic western romance directed by Ron Howard. Cruise played an Irish immigrant alongside Nicole Kidman, seeking to live out the American dream in the 1890s.

With stunning cinematography by Mikael Salomon, it’s a rare chance to see Cruise as more of a romantic lead, especially for the genuine nature that came with Cruise and Kidman being a couple at the time of filming.

27. Oblivion (2013)

Oblivion places Tom Cruise as a tech in a dystopian future, showcasing Cruise’s great respect for the sci-fi genre once more. As a drone repairer, he aids in the mission to remove scavengers that have ravaged the Earth.

But as he questions his mission, dark secrets are revealed. It’s a highly underrated film for being based on an unpublished graphic novel and being directed by Joseph Kosinski of Tron: Legacy fame.

26. American Made (2017)

Even in his older years, Tom Cruise’s cockiness is still a highlight. That part of his personality is perfectly played up in American Made, a darkly comedic picture based on the true story of the pilot/drug smuggler Barry Seal.

Cruise’s desire for danger works well for this film about a guy who thinks little of the consequences when taking on dangerous missions. It’s a film that seems as though it could only work with Cruise in the cockpit.

25. The Firm (1993)

Directed by Sydney Pollack and based on the John Grisham novel, The Firm finds Tom Cruise playing law graduate Mitch McDeere.

Although Mitch rises in the ranks of a law firm, he becomes disillusioned with this world. It’s a stirring legal thriller with an all-star cast that was so mesmerizing it became one of the highest-grossing R-rated movies of the 1990s.

24. Interview with the Vampire (1994)

Gothic horror is not typically a genre most people think of when they think of Tom Cruise. But Cruise certainly plays up his role in this film as Lestat de Lioncourt, a vampire who transforms Louis (Brad Pitt) into a creature of the night.

Told in a non-linear fashion, this epic tale based on the novel by Anne Rice is not your average vampire movie and is made all the more remarkable for the duo of Cruise and Pitt at their best.

23. Mission: Impossible 2 (2000)

The Mission: Impossible movies made a hard pivot with this sequel directed by action filmmaker John Woo. Thankfully, Tom Cruise was willing to take the franchise to this next level, strapping on the iconic shades to climb mountains and engage in intense gun fights and chase sequences.

It’s less Mission: Impossible and more John Woo, but that’s the major draw for a film like this, firmly establishing that Tom Cruise was an action star who was here to stay.

22. Jerry Maguire (1996)

It’s perhaps the most memorable Tom Cruise quote: “Show me the money!” That’s what his character Jerry Maguire shouts over the phone as the eccentric sports agent.

Cameron Crowe’s strong direction and vivacious script made the movie memorable, especially for boasting a notable cast that included Cuba Gooding Jr., Renée Zellweger, and the cute kid Jonathan Lipnicki. It’s also an endlessly quotable film, considering the other quotes, “You had me at hello” and “You complete me.”

21. Mission: Impossible III (2006)

Cruise gets a bit gritty in the role of Ethan Hunt in this Mission: Impossible film directed by J.J. Abrams. With Philip Seymour Hoffman playing the vicious villain, the pathos Cruise gets to work with in this film makes the breakneck action all the more intense and engaging.

The film is also worth watching for one of Cruise’s more impressive running sequences, which will surely be a must-watch moment for those trying to marathon his marathons in movies.

20. Rain Man (1988)

If there’s one thing Cruise is skilled at playing, it’s a cocky guy. He plays to that strength in Rain Man, where he plays the greedy Charlie Babbitt, trying to take advantage of his autistic brother Raymond (Dustin Hoffman) and his ability to count cards.

For a film about trying to reform and being present for family, watching this film is a stirring reminder that Cruise is more than just a skilled stunt actor. His chemistry with Hoffman plays out wonderfully on screen.

19. Top Gun: Maverick (2022)

Tom Cruise quickly stepped back into the role of Maverick for this sequel to Top Gun. Despite still looking so long after multiple decades out of the cockpit.

Cruise still recognizes his age in a film that dares him to be more of a mentor than a gung-ho hero. It’s a strong continuation of his character and rather heartfelt for the scene he shares with Val Kilmer.

18. Magnolia (1999)

Paul Thomas Anderson movies are known for featuring all-star ensembles. Magnolia is no exception, as Cruise appears in the film with talents such as Melinda Dillon, Philip Baker Hall, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and more.

But Cruise still managed to rise to the top for his intense acting as Frank T.J. Mackey, a motivational speaker caring for his dying mother who is highly emotional. Watch it to see one of Cruise’s more emotionally charged performances.

17. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015)

While there is an ongoing story to the Mission: Impossible movies, most of them are iconic for which landmark stunt Tom Cruise pulls off. For Rogue Nation, the fifth film in the franchise, Cruise hangs onto the side of the plane as it takes off in real time.

It’s an astounding sight where the audience can feel themselves making the same look of awe that Simon Pegg has for witnessing such a feat.

16. Legend (1985)

Cruise played a much different role in Ridley Scott’s fantasy adventure, Legend. He plays Jack, a pure boy of the forest who ventures out of his glittering world and into the pits of hell to defeat the Lord of Darkness.

It’s fascinating to see a young Cruise in such an engaging fantasy, acting alongside the wondrous Mia Sara as Princess Lili and a heavily costumed Tim Curry as the demonic Lord of Darkness.

15. War of the Worlds (2005)

As an action-packed adaptation of the classic H. G. Wells’ novel, Steven Spielberg’s War of the World needed an actor as effective as Tom Cruise. In the role of the divorced father Ray Ferrier, Cruise pulls double duty as a concerned father and daring escapist of alien disasters.

He displays just as much love and fear for his kids as he does for being the fastest runner when the aliens start zapping humans. It’s an intense disaster picture and proves how well Cruise can traverse this genre.

14. Tropic Thunder (2008)

Okay, so Tom Cruise may not be the most prominent addition to the all-star comedy ensemble of Tropic Thunder. But it’s hard to forget him for playing so against his usual roles. He plays Les Grossman, a short-fused, balding, and hairy-armed studio executive.

His acid-spitting rants are delivered to actors and terrorists, giving Cruise ample room to eat up this role. It was such a memorable performance that Cruise would reprise this hot-headed character for the 2008 MTV Movie Awards.

13. Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011)

Cruise has a towering presence in Ghost Protocol from scene one. For the actor desiring to top himself with each Mission: Impossible picture, he certainly does just that with this fourth entry. The highlight is watching him scale the Burj Khalifa in Dubai all alone.

Considering that the Burj Khalifa is the tallest man-made structure in the world, watching Cruise climb for more thrills is a real treat for the eyes.

12. Vanilla Sky (2001)

Director Cameron Crowe threw Tom Cruise out of his comfort zone and into a movie all about questioning reality. Cruise plays magazine publisher David Aames, uncertain of what is real after having been in a car crash.

What follows is a psychological thriller with sci-fi leanings, contemplating existentialism and dreams. It’s remarkable how even a film like this is still made for a blockbuster film, highlighting just how much appeal Cruise can wield at the box office.

11. Risky Business (1983)

Tom Cruise redefined how audiences associate Bob Seger with underwear in Risky Business. As his breakout role, he played the high school student Joel Goodsen, aiming to have some teenage fun while his parents were away.

This leads to drinking, sex, joyriding, and a newfound freedom that allows one to dance about the house without pants. If Ferris Bueler’s Day Off wasn’t rebellious or grounded enough, Risky Business should do the trick for those seeking a teenage comedy who want to spread those wings, even if it results in a damaged car.

10. Top Gun (1986)

When you need speed, no other Tom Cruise picture will satiate that desire more than Top Gun. In one of Cruise’s earliest and most exciting movies, the actor’s biggest grins and swoons are in this film.

For a bold and passionate pilot, Maverick, the actor has fantastic chemistry with Val Kilmer and Anthony Edwards. With high-flying jet sequences and an unforgettable volleyball montage of shirtless dudes, Top Gun is one of Crusie’s most exciting action dramas for more than the iconic Kenny Loggins soundtrack.

9. Minority Report (2002)

Director Steven Spielberg launches the versatile Cruise into a sci-fi world of intrigue and action. Minority Report finds Tom playing John Anderton, a police officer in a unit that stops crimes of the future before they happen.

As with most Cruise movies, when a conspiracy is unraveled, there’s a lot of chasing, running, and fights. What makes this Cruise sprint so memorable is that he’s dashing through a detailed vision of the future only Spielberg could conceive so vividly.

8. A Few Good Men (1992)

Tom Cruise shines bright in this legal drama amid an all-star cast. He’s acting alongside the talents of Jack Nicholson, Demi Moore, Kevin Bacon, Kevin Pollak, James Marshall, J. T. Walsh, and Kiefer Sutherland for this tale about a court martial.

The most iconic scene features Cruise and Nicholson debating the merits of whether or not the truth can be handled. It’s some of Cruise’s finest acting with the finest actors that doesn’t involve throwing fists or jumping from tall heights.

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

The Mission: Impossible movies have only improved with each entry, and Dead Reckoning Part One is a strong contender for the top spot. Plenty of daring sequences exist, such as Cruise jumping off a cliff, trying to survive a derailing train, and going off a cliff.

But Cruise also showcases some shock and concern for keeping his pals out of the crosshairs. The uncertainty for the usually calculative Ethan Hunt makes this a must-watch entry in the saga, especially for that fantastic cliffhanger.

6. Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

Whether you know the movie by its other titles like Live Die Repeat or All You Need Is Kill, this is one of the best Tom Cruise sci-fi movies. He plays Major William Cage, caught up in a time loop amid an alien assault.

The only way to escape this constant string of deaths is to solve the alien mystery while working alongside Sergeant Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), who is also experiencing the loop. It’s a great premise with fantastic action and a dark sense of humor, made all the more compelling by Cruise’s penchant for jumping face-first into action.

5. Mission: Impossible (1996)

For a film based on a TV show, Tom Cruise made the role of spy Ethan Hunt all his own.

Before this film saga took off in a way where it was best known for action, Cruise made great use of nail-biter moments, as in the film’s iconic ceiling-lowering sequence, where a drop of sweat could ruin everything. That being said, the sequence where Cruise narrowly avoids death from a helicopter.

4. Born on the Fourth of July (1989)

This anti-war drama showcases Tom Cruise’s full range. He plays the soldier Kovic, a man who experiences the horrors of the Vietnam War and the ugliness of its aftermath.

From Cruise’s yelling on the battlefield to his feuds with the family, Cruise transforms into this character who undergoes an astounding metamorphosis. The result is one of Cruise’s finest performances and one of the best films criticizing the long-term effects of the Vietnam War.

3. Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

As the final film directed by Stanley Kubrick, Tom Cruise launches himself into this psychological and erotic thriller. As the frustrated husband Bill, who is struggling to connect with his wife, played by Nicole Kidman, Cruise’s characters set off on a sexual odyssey through the city.

As one of Cruise’s more dramatic roles, he brings incredible vulnerability and anxiety to his character. It’s a side the actor isn’t as commonly known for and pumped to an extreme degree in a film about relationships and sex.

2. Collateral (2004)

Most audiences are used to seeing Tom Cruise play a hero. But what about a villain? In Michael Mann’s Collateral, Cruise plays Vincent, a hitman seeking to kill multiple people throughout one night.

Paired up with Jamie Foxx as the taxi driver, Max, forced to drive him, Cruise becomes an intimidating force in this nailbiter of a thriller. For playing so against his typical character, it’s a must-watch Cruise film and one of Mann’s best pictures.

1. Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018)

Among all the Mission: Impossible movies, the sixth film, Fallout, is easily the best. The film features Cruise at his most daring, gritty, and vulnerable. There are tense moments of doubt for the character of Ethan Hunt, especially when making the tough call of maintaining cover.

There are stellar stunt sequences, most high up in the air. And let’s not forget that eye-popping two-versus-one bathroom fight, with Cruise fighting alongside an aggressive Henry Cavill. Cruise’s best traits are in this movie, and if you were to watch only one Mission: Impossible film, this is the one.