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Tom Cruise’s Best Movies — Ranked

Which Tom Cruise flick is your favorite?

Whether or not Tom Cruise’s sometimes controversial personality agrees with you, you have to give it to the actor. He’s been pumping out films since the 1980s, many of them becoming new classics. But just how do Cruise’s films rank when compared to each other?

To find out, we combined Rotten Tomatoes‘ “Tomatometer” critics’ score and its audience score as of February 2019 and averaged them to get the most popular and well-reviewed of Tom Cruise’s films. (If two films were tied for a combined score, the higher critically rated film is ranked higher.)

The 30 highest scoring movies are ranked below, from lowest to highest rated. Note that these are films in which Tom Cruise appears, not films he narrated or produced without screentime.

30. ‘Vanilla Sky’

Combined Score: 56.5 percent

Critic Score: 41 percent
Audience Score: 72 percent

Cruise plays David Aames, a successful businessman who becomes disfigured after an accident and may or may not be dreaming up parts of the film. Cruise was also a producer on “Vanilla Sky,” which was adapted and directed by Cameron Crowe.

The 2001 film was a remake of the Spanish film “Open Your Eyes.” After filming wrapped, Cruise started dating his onscreen love interest in the film, Penelope Cruz.

Getty Images | Kevin Winter

29. ‘Oblivion’

Combined Score: 57 percent

Critic Score: 53 percent
Audience Score: 61 percent

Cruise plays Jack Harper in 2013’s “Oblivion,” which is set on a future Earth that’s been decimated by war with aliens.

The film received mixed reviews, with some critics calling the film drawn out and others enjoying it. Richard Roeper called “Oblivion” “the sci-fi movie equivalent of a pretty damn good cover band.”

Getty Images | Stuart C. Wilson

28. ‘Legend’

Combined Score: 57.5 percent
Critic Score: 42 percent
Audience Score: 73 percent

Fans hold “Legend” closer to their hearts than critics do. In this 1985 fantasy film by Ridley Scott, Cruise plays Jack, the hero set to rescue his true love and the entire kingdom from darkness. Since its release, “Legend” has become something of a cult classic.

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27. ‘War of the Worlds’

Combined Score: 58.5 percent

Critic Score: 75 percent
Audience Score: 42 percent

Cruise plays lead character Ray Ferrier and was also a producer on this 2005 remake of “War of the Worlds.” It garnered $234.2 million in box office receipts and good critical reception.

Steven Spielberg directed the film, which is a take on H.G. Wells’ classic book of the same name, in which aliens are attacking earth and using humans as their new food. Critics liked it.

“War of the Worlds is taut, gripping and surprisingly dark filmmaking,” said the Washington Post.

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26. ‘Valkyrie’

Combined Score: 63.5 percent

Critic Score: 62 percent
Audience Score: 65 percent

In 2008’s “Valkyrie,” Cruise plays real-life World War II German Col. Claus von Stauffenberg, who decides he needs to help defeat Hitler and goes to work for the German resistance. The movie “succeeds on its own terms as a handsome hybrid of conspiracy thriller and history lesson,” wrote Entertainment Weekly. Cruise was interested in the role of von Stauffenberg in part because of his own resemblance to the German.

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25. ‘Jack Reacher’

Combined Score: 65 percent

Critic Score: 63 percent
Audience Score: 67 percent

Cruise was supposed to launch a new and successful film franchise as Jack Reacher. But that didn’t materialize. This 2012 origin film did get decent reviews, however. The New Yorker called it “a trim thriller with an enviable lack of grandeur.”

Getty Images | Tim P. Whitby

24. ‘Mission: Impossible’

Combined Score: 67 percent

Critic Score: 63 percent
Audience Score: 71 percent

An instant classic, 1996’s “Mission: Impossible” solidified Tom Cruise as an action hero and started a successful film franchise loosely based on the original TV series. Cruise plays Ethan Hunt, a spy who must prove that he’s been framed and save other spies’ lives.

“In the spirit of its tightly wound star, the movie cannily hoards its flashiest action-adventure moments until the very end, then unleashes them in a delirious rush that is brief but still worth the wait,” said The New York Times.

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23. ‘Top Gun’

Combined Score: 68.5 percent

Critic Score: 54 percent
Audience Score: 83 percent

As Navy pilot Lt. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell in 1986’s “Top Gun,” Cruise delivered line after classic line and showcased his natural charisma.

Think this one should be ranked higher on Cruise’s top films list? Critics took issue with the plot and didn’t like it as much as audiences did. There is a nearly 30 percent gap in the audience-to-critic score.

“Cruise is adorable, but he hardly seems old enough to qualify for the Eagle Scouts,” let alone a top Navy pilot school, wrote one New York Daily News critic. But fans still haven’t lost that loving feeling for “Top Gun” all these years later, and a sequel, “Top Gun: Maverick,” is in the works.

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22. ‘Mission: Impossible III’

Combined Score: 69.5 percent

Critic Score: 70 percent
Audience Score: 69 percent

J.J. Abrams made his film directorial debut with this 2006 picture that shows Ethan Hunt coming out of retirement and to the rescue. Critics liked “Mission: Impossible III” a little better than the original. In fact, the only “Mission: Impossible” film that didn’t make this top 30 list was “Mission: Impossible II” (which received a combined 49.5 percent critic-fan Rotten Tomatoes score).

Getty Images | Paul Hawthorne

21. ‘Taps’

Combined Score: 69.5 percent

Critic Score: 71 percent
Audience Score: 68 percent

In only his second film role (after a brief appearance in “Endless Love”), Tom Cruise plays supporting character Cadet Capt. David Shawn in this 1981 film starring George C. Scott and Timothy Hutton.

“I went to every single department and asked questions,” Cruise told People magazine of his time on set for “Taps.” “I drove everyone crazy. The director Harold Becker was so lovely to me because he knew I was so passionate. He let me go see rushes. Actors didn’t really go to rushes back then, where you see what’s shot the day before. So he set it up so I could see it. He’d say, ‘These takes are going to be in the movie.’ He was very generous.”

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20. ‘The Firm’

Combined Score: 69.5 percent

Critic Score: 75 percent
Audience Score: 64 percent

In 1993’s “The Firm,” Cruise plays newly minted lawyer Mitch McDeere, who discovers that the law firm he’s picked for his first post-law school job is incredibly corrupt. The film was based on a John Grisham novel.

“The large gallery of characters makes ‘The Firm’ into a convincing canvas; there are enough believable people here to give McDeere a convincing world to occupy,” Roger Ebert said in his 1993 review of the film.

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19. ‘The Outsiders’

Combined Score: 73 percent

Critic Score: 64 percent
Audience Score: 82 percent

The classic book “The Outsiders” became a film in 1983 with an all-star cast of Greasers, including Cruise as Steve Randle.

Film critic Carrie Rickey surmised that being on set with a slew of great young actors in both “Taps” and “The Outsiders” helped Cruise fine-tune his acting by observation.

“I think he got an intimate look at the best actors in his peer group and sized them up,” she said in Grantland. “I think he appreciated how these actors could play contradictory emotions — in other words, more than two notes or more at the same time.”

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18. ‘Eyes Wide Shut’

Combined Score: 73.5 percent

Critic Score: 74 percent
Audience Score: 73 percent

“Eyes Wide Shut” was director Stanley Kubrick’s last film before he died. Shooting on the movie lasted an atypically long time — 15 months — and took a toll on Cruise and his then-wife Nicole Kidman. Cruise even developed an ulcer.

“I wanted this to work, but you’re playing with dynamite when you act. Emotions kick up,” Cruise told Time Magazine at the time of the film’s release in 1999.

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17. ‘Interview with the Vampire’

Combined Score: 74 percent

Critic Score: 62 percent
Audience Score: 86 percent

Cruise plays Lestat, a vampire whose fellow vampire companion Louis is played by Brad Pitt. The 1994 film based on Anne Rice’s novel also featured a young Kirsten Dunst in one of her first film roles. Rice, while initially upset by Cruise’s casting as Lestat, ended up being happy with him in the role.

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16. ‘The Last Samurai’

Combined Score: 74.5 percent

Critic Score: 66 percent
Audience Score: 83 percent

In the historical drama “The Last Samurai,” Cruise plays Civil War and American Indian Wars Capt. Nathan Algren, who is hired to train Japanese peasants to become an imperial army as Japan westernizes. Algren is captured by samurai, begins to sympathize with them, and then learns their ways and culture.

Audiences appreciated it more than the critics. “‘The Last Samurai’ is an idyll in which the savageries of existence are transcended by spiritual devotion,” said New York Magazine reviewer Peter Rainer. “That’s a beautiful dream, and it gives the film a deep pleasingness, but the fullness of life and its blackest ambiguities are sacrificed.”

Getty Images | Kurt Vinion

15. ‘Tropic Thunder’

Combined Score: 75.5 percent

Critic Score: 81 percent
Audience Score: 70 percent

Cruise is fairly unrecognizable as the balding, overweight, cursing movie executive Les Grossman in “Tropic Thunder.” But he made the supporting role one of his best at a time when his personal life was overshadowing his professional life.

“Les Grossman was an opportunity for Cruise, for the first and perhaps only time in his career, to poke fun at himself and his compulsion to do everything as big and as bold as it can possibly be done,” according to a Quartz take on the character.

Cruise came up with the idea for the movie-mogul character in the film, along with other details about Grossman.

“The whole thing was just a gift. Seeing it come together had this weird cosmic layer,” producer Stuart Cornfeld told Grantland. “Tom comes up with the idea of the character — the dance, having big hands — and he ends up playing the character. It’s just rare that these sorts of surprises end up working.”

Getty Images | Michael Buckner

14. ‘Jerry Maguire’

Combined Score: 81 percent

Critic Score: 83 percent
Audience Score: 79 percent

Cruise made the title role in “Jerry Maguire” his own. So it’s hard to imagine that Cameron Crowe wrote the role with Tom Hanks in mind.

Crowe said he worried how the delivery of some lines would come across. But in Cruise’s scene when he tells Renee Zellweger’s character, “You complete me,” Crowe said he knew Cruise nailed it.

“There were grizzled grips who just wanted to get home, and were suddenly crying, watching him do that scene. And you go, wow, that’s a bit of fire power,” he told Deadline.

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13. ‘American Made’

Combined Score: 82 percent

Critic Score: 86 percent
Audience Score: 78 percent

In this biopic roughly based on the life of drug-smuggling American pilot Barry Seal, Cruise did his own stunts, including all the flying he’s seen doing in the movie.

“American Made” was overlooked in theaters but critically well-reviewed. “Cruise, in one of his best performances in recent years, makes Seal a plausible if not especially sympathetic anti-hero,” said the New York Post.

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12. ‘Born on the Fourth of July’

Combined Score: 82 percent

Critic Score: 88 percent
Audience Score: 76 percent

“Born on the Fourth of July” was part of Oliver Stone’s Vietnam trilogy, along with “Platoon” and “Heaven & Earth.” It’s based on the autobiography of Vietnam veteran Ron Kovic. Cruise plays Kovic, first as a young Marine recruit, then a wounded veteran, and finally an anti-war protestor.

The 1989 film did well in theaters and also received numerous award nominations. Roger Ebert gave it four out of four stars, saying Cruise’s “performance is so good that the movie lives through it. Stone is able to make his statement with Cruise’s face and voice and doesn’t need to put everything into the dialogue.”

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11. ‘Collateral’

Combined Score: 85 percent

Critic Score: 86 percent
Audience Score: 84 percent

Cruise and Jamie Foxx starred in 2004 movie “Collateral,” about the cab ride from hell — for the cabbie. Cruise plays Vincent, a hitman who hires Foxx’s cab driver for the night without telling him his stops are all to kill people on his hit list. Some argue this is Cruise’s best work to date.

Getty Images | Pascal Le Segretain

10. ‘A Few Good Men’

Combined Score: 85.5

Critic Score: 82 percent
Audience Score: 89 percent

You can’t handle the truth of how awesome Cruise is in “A Few Good Men.” As brash Navy Lt. j.g. Daniel Kaffee, a JAG Corps officer investigating the death of a young Marine after a hazing incident at Guantanamo Bay, Cruise shines.

The Atlantic said that “the staying-power of ‘A Few Good Men’ hangs on the performance of Cruise as a cocky Navy JAG, the role that marks the sweetest-spot of his long career where Movie Star and Actor were in their sharpest alignment, and where Cruise mercifully left his cinematic 80’s behind and began a period where, starting with ‘A Few Good Men’ and ending in ‘Magnolia,’ he did his most significant work.”

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9. ‘Minority Report’

Combined Score: 85.5 percent

Critic Score: 91 percent
Audience Score: 80 percent

In 2002’s “Minority Report,” Cruise plays Detective John Anderton in the “pre-crime” police unit in a Washington, D.C. of the future. Three “precogs” who can see the future tell the unit who is going to commit murders down the road, and they are arrested. But Anderton has to go on the run when a prediction shows him murdering someone in the future.

The film did well at the box office ($132.1 million) and received critical praise. And a lot of the technology the film predicted has come true.

Getty Images | Mark Mainz

8. ‘The Color of Money’

Combined Score: 81 percent

Critic Score: 89 percent
Audience Score: 73 percent

In “The Color of Money,” Cruise plays Vincent Lauria, a young pool-shark prodigy mentored by Paul Newman. The 1986 film was a sequel of sorts to 1961’s “The Hustler,” starring Newman.

“Mr. Cruise works successfully against his pretty-boy looks to find the comic, short-sighted nastiness that’s at the center of the younger man,” said the New York Times’ critic Vincent Canby at the time of the film’s release.

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7. ‘Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol’

Combined Score: 84.5 percent

Critic Score: 93 percent
Audience Score: 76 percent

Cruise returned for the fourth time as action hero-spy Ethan Hunt in 2011’s “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol.” The film was a hit, grossing $209.4 million in the U.S. It was also originally intended to be the movie in the “Mission: Impossible” universe where Hunt becomes the leader of his spy agency and retires from fieldwork, with a younger colleague taking over the action role. That didn’t materialize.

Getty Images | Andrew H. Walker

6. ‘Risky Business’

Combined Score: 84 percent

Critic Score: 96 percent
Audience Score: 72 percent

1983’s “Risky Business” made Tom Cruise a star. He plays Joel Goodson, the teen schemer who, when left home alone, gets drunk and famously dances around the house in his underwear. Joel falls for a prostitute (Rebecca De Mornay) and must figure his way out of a mess before his parents return home.

Much of that famous “Old Time Rock & Roll” scene was ad-libbed, according to an interview Cruise did with Cameron Crowe.

“So I took the candlestick, and I said, ‘How about making this the audience?’ And then I just started ad-libbing, using it as a guitar, jumping on the table. I waxed half the floor and kept the other half dirty, so I could slide in on my socks. As we went along, I threw more stuff in. Like the thing with the collar up, jumping on the bed. Originally, it was only one line in the script: ‘Joel dances in underwear through the house.'”

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5. ‘Magnolia’

Combined Score: 86 percent

Critic Score: 83 percent
Audience Score: 89 percent

Writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson and Cruise collaborated on his role as Frank T.J. Mackey in 1999’s “Magnolia.” They two both lost their fathers when they were young, and the character Frank is also dealing with his dying father in the film.

“The whole time with the character, I was skating on the edge,” said Cruise, who would receive an Oscar nomination for the part.

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4. ‘Rain Man’

Combined Score: 89.5 percent

Critic Score: 89 percent
Audience Score: 90 percent

Cruise plays Charlie Babbitt alongside his older autistic savant brother, Raymond, played by Dustin Hoffman, in “Rain Man.” Not only was the film the top-grossing movie of 1988, it also won many awards, including an Oscar for Best Picture.

“For myself it was a challenge. For myself, it was different,” Cruise said in a 1988 Associated Press interview. “For myself, it was the best role that I’ve had in my career to date.”

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3. ‘Live Die Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow’

Combined Score: 90 percent

Critic Score: 90 percent
Audience Score: 90 percent

Emily Blunt and Cruise play future action heroes in “Live Die Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow.” Though the film was not a blockbuster, critics and those who did see it loved it. While the movie shows the same series of events over and over, it’s gripping and engaging.

A sequel to this underrated sci-fi flick is in the works.

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2. ‘Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation’

Combined Score: 90 percent

Critic Score: 93 percent
Audience Score: 87 percent

Though not as financially successful as “Ghost Protocol,” 2015’s “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” was rated slightly higher by fans on Rotten Tomatoes. This fifth movie in the franchise follows Cruise as Ethan Hunt and his team battling The Syndicate. It’s also the film where Cruise, who likes to do his own stuntwork, hangs from the outside of a plane as it takes off.

Getty Images | George Pimentel

1. ‘Mission: Impossible – Fallout’

Combined Score: 92.5 percent

Critic Score: 97 percent
Audience Score: 88 percent

The top movie on our list, the sixth “Mission: Impossible” film, “Fallout,” came out in 2018 and was both a commercial and critical success. Variety called it the best installment in the franchise yet, and Cruise proved he’s still got it.

Getty Images | Emmanuel Wong

Originally published on Near Far Travel.