Associated Press Lists Tom Cruise’s Top Five All-Time Performances

The heat of the summer still shines on the latest Tom Cruise action movie, Knight and Day. But that didn’t stop Associated Press film critic Christy Lemire from looking at Tom’s filmography to weigh on on his top five all-time performances!

Picking just five roles feels a little skinny when the first three are Oscar-nominated roles! Tom’s fans could quickly point to his work in action movies ranging from the Mission: Impossible series heading back to Top Gun. However, Lemire picks some of Tom’s most accomplished acting across a number of genres – ranging from mind-bending science fiction to emotionally-filled dramas.

Take a look below and let us know if you agree with the list!

Magnolia (1999): While not a staring role, Tom stood out in Paul Thomas Anderson’s ensemble drama as Frank T.J. Mackey, a self-help guru attempting to reconnect with his father. This is one with Tom showing off his deep side!

Lemire writes about the performance:

“Pretty much universally recognized as his best work ever, it earned him the third of his three Oscar nominations, this time for supporting actor.”


Jerry Maguire (1996): A favorite performance for Tom Cruise fans throughout the world, Jerry Maguire earned Tom his second of two Oscar nominations for best actor in a leading role. The film continues as a fan-favorite through it’s lasting  humor, romance and signature Tom Cruise charm.

Lamire’s take on Tom’s acting in the Cameron Crowe film:

“… his performance as a sports agent trying to rebuild his career and his personal life allowed him to show the full range of highs and lows within him. And that line from Cameron Crowe’s film remains famous largely because he’s the one who says it — just like the movie’s catchphrase, ‘Show me the money!’”


Born on the Fourth of July (1989): Tom’s first Oscar nomination for best actor in a leading role came with his portrayal of Vietnam veteran and peace activist Ron Kovic in this gritty drama helmed by Oliver Stone. Making the transition from All-American jock to paralyzed soldier in the film, Tom made believers out of the Hollywood establishment in his acting ability.

Someone hand us a tissue, it’s that good! :o

Lemire comments about the serious drama:

“Here’s where Cruise showed his ability to dig deep, and do more than just charm us by flashing that sexy smile of his and working his high-energy, verbal magic. Oliver Stone’s searing film about Vietnam veteran Ron Kovic, who returned from the war partially paralyzed and fully disillusioned, the transformation in Cruise occurred not just superficially but internally, as well.”


Minority Report (2002): Teaming with Steven Spielberg for the first time, Cruise takes a darker turn in this futuristic thriller. In an understated performance, Tom transports us on a race through a dystopic future, trying to avoid capture for a crime he has yet to commit! This Philip K. Dick-inspired story also introduced fans to the acting talents of Samantha Morton.

No need for a manicure after watching this one – our nails were chewed off!

Here’s what Lemire said about the science fiction spectacular:

“…Cruise is at the center, holding it all together confidently as the straight man in a fantastic, futuristic world, even as his detective character, John Anderton, goes on the run for a crime he hasn’t yet committed.”


Risky Business (1983): Here’s where we first saw Tom dance into a leading role, literally! In his breakout performance, Tom charms co-star Rebecca DeMornay and, by extension, audiences throughout the world. Sliding into our hearts in nothing more than an Oxford shirt and a pair of underwear, Tom’s iconic dance scene is still parodied today.

Lemire continues:

“Of course, the movie that made him a star in the first place. In retrospect, it’s a classic Tom Cruise role, the prototype: a young guy who has it all and thinks he has all the answers, only to experience a comeuppance and learn more than he bargained for. It’s a performance that solidified his place in pop culture…”

What’s your favorite Tom Cruise performances of all time? What about a personal top five list? How about top 10!? Let us know in the comments section below, or keep the conversation going on the Facebook profile page or Twitter feed!

As always, keep in touch! We love to hear from you, the people who matter most: the fans!!

  • raphaela

    follow me
    tom , brazil love ya !

  • Shannon Reed

    The Lists was great! Jerry Maguire was my favorite! :)

  • Pollyanna

    I love all the movies…

  • Alejandra

    My favorite Minority Report, I love that movie. ;)

  • brandalin

    wonderful !

  • francisca

    Interview with the vampire, tom was amazin playin Lestat, One of his best movies.
    Tom is awesome :)

  • Abegale Zoumah

    Oh, yes my favorites made the list – Risky Business, Minority Report, Jerry McGuire – I see Vanilla Sky didn’t make the list but I love that movie and The Firm is my all time favorite…

  • Tubarface

    Born on the Fourth of July (1989)

  • Tae Kwang,Shin

    mission impossible3!!!

  • Old School

    You have to include “Charlie Babbitt” from Rain Man. That is one of Tom’s greatest performances. You should also include Color of Money, Collateral and Last Samurai. I have always enjoyed Cocktail, too.
    I would definitely include Jerry Maguire and Magnolia. Then Rain Man. Then probably Minority Report. And the others are too close to call for #5.

  • yoredvogt

    All great movies, and I’ve seen everyone of his movies sereral times. Seriously, I thought “Rain Man” should’ve been on the list instead of “War of the Worlds” it was as great as “Born on the 4th of July” and one his character was flawed and not as likable much like “Magnolia”, but as a lead character. “Valkrie” deserves a place on this list. It was his first role in a period drama, it didn’t get rave rviews from the critics but was a more challenging role than “War of the Worlds” or the “Mission Impossible” series where he’s the hot action hero that saves the day-much like “Day and Night” I know that “Riskly Business” was his breakout role, but “Top Gun” premiered my senior year of High School and did more for Arm Forces/Navy recruiting than an other movie of that era. Young men wanted to be a Naval Aviator and girls wanted to sleep with them. We all had “the need for speed”. He has a diverse body of work and is in better physical shape now than at 25.

  • Stefania.

    Ohh Tom Crise .. You Are person talented ..

    Nice person ! ..

  • marianela

    HOLA soy de argentina tengo 33 años te sigo desde chica y me encanta todo lo que haces,me emociona ver siempre jerry maguire, creo que es una peli que demostro otro lado tuyo … ahora loca por ver pareja explosiva. te mando un beso grande.

  • ameliathen

    Tom had nice performance in Minority Report ,and Knight and Day also was amazing movie love it very much….

  • Luiz Paulo R. H.

    I have a story that I created myself, I know she has some flaws since I am not professional goals.
    Please help me find someone who wants to analyze my history.
    Really wanted to write for film.

    Thank you. Tom

    Luiz Ruaro Hemkemeier.
    Spring Mato Grosso. Brazil.

  • Luiz Paulo R. H.

    Forgot to mention.
    I’m your fam, you’re the best
    Adored diary of a vampire ….

  • Sherry Mirkarimi

    The films listed above are definitely some of Tom’s great movies. Some of my other favorites are:

    The Firm- The Firm has everything; intrigue, values, corruption, romance. I especially like the way the relationship between Tom’s character and his wife develops and matures as they are caught up in the Firm’s web of deception.

    A Few Good Men- Great movie about right and wrong. The intensity makes it very compelling. Tom’s perfect in his role.

    And of course I like the Mission Impossible series. They are top-notch action movies.

  • jonathan

    No top gun?!
    No days of thunder?!

  • Ana Flavia

    Oieee … I love movies …. Tooom I’m from BRAZIL call Ana Flaviiia

  • Okan Kılıç

    hello,you is perfect :)

  • Karen Stephens

    Hi my name is Karen Stephens (UK). In reply to my Top 5 Tom Cruise films, mine are: The Firm, Jerry Maguire, Born on the 4th of July and A Few Good Men. My all time favourite is Vanilla Sky and I have actually seen it at the cinema when I lived and worked in London UK between September 1998 and October 2002.

  • Laura Guerrero Barrera

    My favorites Movies are:
    1 .Top Gun
    2. Jerry Maguire
    3 Eyes Wide SHut
    4. Minority Report
    5. Mission Impossible Series

    kisses for you

  • JoAnn

    Just saw All the Right Moves again, great work for a kid! Gutsy move with the nude scene, but was that a prosthetic? See what tivo can do for art! xxjooed&b

  • santosh

    nathan algren in the last samurai…Lt. daniel kaffee in a few good men….

  • Ozlem Yazici

    I think in Jerry Maguire his performance is perfect. I love him :)))

  • Ozlem Yazici

    Top Gun, Jerry Maguire, Rain Man, Born on the fourth of July, Last Samurai my favorite his performance. He is great actor.

  • Benjamin

    uh… COLLATERAL! Tom was amazing as Vincent… and it was cool to see him as a total bad guy.

  • Andrea

    My favorites Movies :
    1. Minority Report , 2. Collateral , 3. Interview with the Vampire , 4. War of the Worlds , 5. Mission: Impossible – 1,2,3 , 6. Vanilla Sky , 7. Risky Business , 8. Eyes Wide Shut , 9. The Firm , 10. Magnolia

  • MCG.

    Oh my gosh. You have to include “Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles” here! That’s his best movie ever! Well, for me. Even though he played an anti-hero (in most TVC books which were narrated by Lestat, he’s the main MAIN character), he plays a HOT HOT HOT vampire perfectly (!), together with the gestures, the emotions, and the charisma. Well done, well done! =D