Ten Favorite Tom Cruise Movies
Cruise as Maverick, Vincent, and Brian
My all-time favorite Cruise flicks
Tom Cruise Mapother IV, better known as Tom Cruise was born on July 3, 1962 and has worked as a highly successful actor and film producer. Cruise has been nominated for three Academy Awards and won three Golden Globe Awards. His first leading role was the 1983 movie Risky Business, and he has appeared in more than 30 films in his career. Cruise has also gained notoriety for his endorsement and practice of Scientology and marriages to the beautiful actresses Mimi Rogers, Nicole Kidman, and Katie Holmes.
Tom Cruise movies are an interesting lot. The success of his movies seems almost contradictory in nature. Cruise is an undeniable box office draw, but his achievements were accomplished in part by effectively interacting with some of the biggest names in Hollywood, including Dustin Hoffman, Paul Newman and Jack Nicholson. It is a tribute to his skills and the management of his ego that he teamed up with the biggest names in Hollywood, shared the billing, and still held his own. Cruise has played a variety of roles, but in the style of highly regarded actors John Wayne and Clint Eastwood, many of his portrayals are similar in nature.
My list has left out many superb Tom Cruise movies, and I want to acknowledge the excellence of films such as Rain Man, Born on the Fourth of July, The Last Samurai, Valkyrie, and the Mission Impossible series. Some might argue that these are better than many of the movies I’ve included on my list, but I prefer the formulaic Tom Cruise movies, the “hot shot learns a lesson flick” he mastered from the very beginning of his career.
My films are:
Top Gun: The best of the “Hot Shot Learns Humility” flicks, this movie features solid offerings from Tom Skerritt, Meg Ryan, Kelly McGillis and Val Kilmer, among others. So many actors did such a good job in this film there was a lot of strong performances for Cruise to play off of. Cruise is Maverick, a hot-shot pilot sent to Top Gun training, where he learns about both aerial combat and life. Throw in an outstanding soundtrack, and you had a great movie that was so inspirational, armed forces recruiters set up stations outside movie theatres to persuade young men and women to sign up.
A Few Good Men: A morality play told inside a military courtroom that asks very tough questions about honor, duty, and responsibility. Facing off against Jack Nicholson, this movie offers great speeches and one of the memorable quotes in film history: the famous “you can’t handle the truth” line. Like the cast of Top Gun, everyone in this star-studded cast rose to the occasion with stellar performances, including bit parts from actors Noah Wylie and Cuba Gooding, Jr. The performances are so good it remains a fun movie to watch, even when you know how it ends.
Color of Money: Teamed with the late Paul Newman, I was interested more in Fast Eddie than Vincent, but Cruise did a nice job in reprising his hot-shot-without-humility role. In the Color of Money, however, Cruise’s character never really progresses. It is a movie about what’s going on with Fast Eddie, who takes us on a tour of his past with stops in back alleys and second-floor pool halls filled with colorful, seedy and sometimes dangerous characters. Eddie attempts to teach Vincent about pool excellence with mixed results, and despite a reluctance that comes with age, throws himself back into the pool-hustling fray at film’s end.
The Firm: Another dynamite cast that includes Gene Hackman, Jeannie Tripplehorn, Holly Hunter and Hal Holbrook, the Firm was a cliffhanger cast in the mold of Kevin Costner’s “No Way Out”. Cruise plays Mitch McDeere, who joins a Memphis law firm that seems a sure-fire way to transcend his working-class background. When the FBI investigates a web of corruption and murder within his firm, Cruise finds himself in a dangerous trap. Hackman, Holbrook and company shine as the two-faced mentors cheering his rise in the company while setting him up for a fall.
War of the Worlds: An older, mature Cruise works with an accomplished young actress named Dakota Fanning. Cruise does an outstanding job adding texture to a remade movie forced to rely on special effects because we already know how the story of Martians attacking earth ends. He deftly offers a solid portrayal of the part-time father who doesn’t know his kids as well as he should, and his interactions with them offers considerable light and shadow. Tim Robbins offers a wonderfully creepy portrayal of a man bent on surviving the alien attack, apparently at the cost of his sanity.
Cocktail: Reviled by many as a horrible movie featuring characters without values, I still liked it as another version of “hotshot gets shot down and picks himself back up”. Cruise plays Brian, a young man mentored in life and bartending by Doug (Bryan Brown). Their odyssey takes them from Manhattan, where they revel in the empty success of “superstar bartending” to Jamaica, where Brian finds love with Jordan (Elisabeth Shue) until Doug arrives to spoil the show. In the end Doug kills himself in despair, Brian wins Jordan’s heart and they marry in the bar he opens.
Jerry Maguire: Cruise stars as Maguire, a sports agent who suddenly questions what he’s doing with his life and is fired for publicly expressing his doubts. He attempts to go it alone with the one client who sticks with him. Short on substance but long on heart, this is a touching, sentimental flick as much about relationships and family as sports. This film was blessed with several classic film lines: “Show me the money!!!!” and Rene Zellweger’s “You had me at hello.”
Risky Business: A coming-of-age film starring Cruise as Joel, a young man interested in attending Princeton. While his parents are out of town he hires Lana, a pretty prostitute (Rebecca De Mornay) who steals a priceless antique in lieu of $300 owed for her services. He eludes “Guido the Killer Pimp” but deposits his father’s Porsche in Lake Michigan in the process of reacquiring the piece. In the end, he charms Lana into a relationship and settles on the University of Illinois. This movie is famous for Cruise dancing in his underwear to Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock and Roll”.
Interview with the Vampire: Cruise shares the screen with Brad Pitt, Antonio Banderas, Christian Slater and Kirsten Dunst in this stylish vampire flick. Pitt portrays Louis, who tells the tale of his 200 year history with the evil Lestat (Cruise) and the child vampire Claudia, played by then 11-years old Dunst. The blood and violence is often unsettling and perhaps overdone, but the mood and feeling epitomized by Pitt’s melancholy and Cruise’s evil is riveting. This movie and its depiction of the USA and Europe through the decades are visually stunning and a tribute to its art directors.
Eyes Wide Shut: Cruise plays a doctor jolted by his wife’s admission of sexual fantasies involving a stranger and throws himself into 24 hours of hedonistic adventures, culminating in attendance at a masked ball with ritualistic sexual practices. Cruise quickly discovers he’s in over his head, and his involvement at the ball threatens his marriage and even his life. The viewer feels uncomfortably voyeuristic watching Cruise in the bedroom with then-wife Nicole Kidman, but the whole movie seems intent on making one feel uncomfortable. The ending is abrupt, and one wonders what it would have been like had Stanley Kubrick been alive from start to finish.
I invite your comments. What are your favorite Tom Cruise movies?
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