Home Movies Movie Lists

Readers’ Poll: The 10 Best Tom Cruise Movies

See what movie managed to beat ‘Rain Man,’ ‘Risky Business’ and ‘A Few Good Men’

tom cruise penelope cruz

With the new 'Mission Impossible' killing at the box office, we asked our readers to select their favorite Tom Cruise movies.

Paramount Pictures/Getty; Paramount/Everett; Warner Brothers/Everett

Many in Hollywood were stunned this week when Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation managed to beat even the most optimistic expectations and gross $55 million in its first weekend in theaters. Tom Cruise's recent string of bombs coupled with embarrassing revelations about his role in the Church of Scientology convinced many that his days as a major leading man were numbered, but clearly when he's in the right project people will still show up in droves. We asked our readers to select their favorite movies by Cruise. Here are the results. 

tom cruise penelope cruz

‘Vanilla Sky’

Five years after Cameron Crowe and Tom Cruise teamed up for Jerry Maguire, they reunited to create a remake of the 1997 Spanish movie Open Your Eyes. Penelope Cruz reprised her role from the original movie, which is about a man arrested for murder that tells the crazy story of his life to a police psychologist. It's a surreal film full of twists and turns, and many critics felt it didn't quite come together. The public disagreed and it grossed over $200 million. It was also responsible for Cruise's brief romantic relationship with Cruz. 

tom cruise penelope cruz

‘Minority Report’

This 2002 Steven Spielberg movie has a pretty irresistible premise: What would a society be like if people were arrested for murder before they actually committed the crime? This is possible because a trio of "precogs" are able to project coming events onto a screen and a task force, headed by Tom Cruise, is able to apprehend the future criminals. Needless to say, all hell breaks loose when a bunch of bad guys work the system to their advantage and eventually frame Cruise's character for murder. A TV show based on the movie is in the works, but so far all they've managed to do is force Larry Willmore to abandon his plans to call his Comedy Central show Minority Report.

tom cruise penelope cruz

‘Risky Business’

The exact moment that Tom Cruise became a movie star can be traced to the early scene in 1983's Risky Business when he glides across the floor of his parents' home in his underwear while lip-syncing Bob Seger's "Old Time Rock and Roll." He was bursting with charisma, and kids everywhere loved the story of an ambitious rich kid that finds himself in the world of high-priced prostitutes and dangerous pimps. Critics were equally impressed and it became one of the biggest films of the year. The supporting characters in the movie went onto success in Perfect Strangers and Revenge of the Nerds, but there were far bigger things in Cruise's future. 

tom cruise penelope cruz

‘The Last Samurai’

The story of a 19th-century American Civil War veteran who is captured by Japanese samurai warriors and converts to their cause might not seem like a natural box office hit, but somehow this 2003 film grossed $450 million and earned strong reviews. "[It] breaks with the convention that the Western hero is always superior to the local culture he immerses in," Roger Ebert wrote. "It has been compared to Lawrence of Arabia and Dances With Wolves, films in which Westerners learn to respect Arabs and Indians, but this film goes a step further, clearly believing that Katsumoto's traditional society is superior to the modernism being unloaded by the Americans." 

tom cruise penelope cruz

‘A Few Good Men’

Director Rob Reiner assembled the all-star team of Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson, Demi Moore, Kevin Pollack, Kevin Bacon and Kiefer Sutherland for this 1992 movie about two U.S. marines that are charged with murder. Nicholson was nominated for an Academy Award, but Cruise more than held as own as a naval attorney that gets to the bottom of the crime and forces Nicholson to admit his guilt on the witness stand. The movie was adapted from a 1989 play written by a young Aaron Sorkin, and it has since been staged a number of times across the world. 

tom cruise penelope cruz

‘Rain Man’

Rain Man is a very enjoyable movie, but it didn't do much to advance the public's knowledge about autism. Contrary to the film, people with the condition can't magically identify the number of toothpicks that fall onto the ground or count cards at casinos, and they tend to not have complete meltdowns if they can't watch their favorite television program. But the movie isn't really about autism. It's about two very different brothers learning to love each other under very trying circumstances. Dustin Hoffman won the Oscar, but Rain Man showed the world that Cruise could handle a more serious sort of film. 

tom cruise penelope cruz

‘Born on the Fourth of July’

The second of Oliver Stone's Vietnam War trilogy, Born on the Fourth of July is the true story of Ron Kovic. He grows up a fierce patriot, but when he comes back paralyzed from Vietnam he slowly turns against the war. He eventually travels down to Miami to disrupt Richard Nixon's acceptance speech at the 1972 Republican National Convention. By the end, Kovic is given a speaking slot at the 1976 Democratic National Convention and he becomes a fierce advocate for veterans. This was Tom Cruise's final film of the 1980s. He was a complete unknown when the decade began, but by the end he was one of the biggest movie stars in the world. 

tom cruise penelope cruz


Tom Cruise called up director Paul Thomas Anderson after watching his film Boogie Nights to say he'd love to appear in his next movie, but when the Magolia script arrived he was a little uneasy. Anderson asked him to play the part of a pick-up artist who spouts lines like, "Respect the cock! And tame the cunt!" It was wild stuff for the usually family-friendly Cruise, but he took the risk and saw it pay off with an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. 

tom cruise penelope cruz

‘Tropic Thunder’

A good many people sat through the entirety of Tropic Thunder, laughed their asses off and had no clue that bald, fat, hairy film executive Les Grossman was actually Tom Cruise. More than a few people felt the role was incredibly anti-semitic, but that didn't prevent the movie from grossing more than $200 million. (Also, a film that puts Robert Downey Jr. in blackface clearly isn't afraid to offend some people.) For Cruise, it was a nice opportunity to prove that he had a sense of humor and would take on a small role if he believed in the project. 

tom cruise penelope cruz

‘Top Gun’

Risky Business made Tom Cruise into a movie star, but Tom Gun took him to a whole other level. It's the story of an ace pilot that finds himself at the Top Gun Naval Flying School where he's forced to compete against some of the best in the country. He also finds himself in love with a beautiful civilian instructor, giving Berlin the set closing number for every concert they'll play until the end of time, "Take My Breath Away." It also inspired the parody film Hot Shots, and word is a sequel is on the way that may feature Cruise himself. If it happens, it'll be the first sequel he's done outside of the Mission Impossible franchise.