20. 'All the Right Moves' (1983)
Cruise would have bigger — much bigger — hits in the 1980s, but this sports drama could easily be a template for many of his later movies. Here, he plays a small-town Pennsylvania high school football star who butts heads with his domineering coach (played by Craig T. Nelson, soon to corner the sports-coach niche). Cruise's character sees football as his ticket out of this dying town, and he thinks almost nothing of the fact that if and when he departs, he will leave his working-class family and his devoted girlfriend (Lea Thompson) behind. It's a sensitive, surprisingly dark tale of All-American ambition — an area that Cruise would occasionally go back to with gratifying results (see No. 1).