Top 10 Tom Cruise Performances

He's been one of Hollywood's biggest stars since the 1980s, and continues to thrill on the silver screen. His performances have spanned several genres, and he has played everything from a fighter pilot to Vietnam War veteran, hit man, vampire, sports agent, loudmouth film executive and super spy. Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our Top 10 favorite Tom Cruise performances.
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Top 10 Tom Cruise Performances

The actor may have jumped the sofa, but he’s still one of Hollywood’s best! Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’ll be counting down our Top 10 favorite Tom Cruise performances.

#10: Charlie Babbitt “Rain Man” (1988)


Kicking off our list is the classic drama about a car dealer who discovers his inheritance has been left to an autistic older brother he never knew existed. After taking his to Vegas to exploit his abilities, Cruise unintentionally undergoes a heartfelt transformation from an ignorant, self-centered jerk to a loving and protective brother. Sure, Dustin Hoffman took home the Oscar, but we can never forget Cruise’s equally important and touching role as the childish hothead.

#9 – Ron Kovic: “Born on the Fourth of July” (1989)


Receiving an Oscar nomination for Best Actor, Cruise starred in Oliver Stone’s autobiographical war film depicting the life of activist Ron Kovic. Here, Cruise takes us through his turbulent journey from an eager teenager who enlists in the army to impassioned paraplegic Vietnam vet. Speaking out against the war, its horrors and twisted notions of patriotism, Cruise expertly depicts Kovic’s downward spiral of self-abuse, and emotional involvement in the anti-war movement.

#8 – Vincent: “Collateral” (2004)


In one of the few occasions that Cruise plays the villain, he gives a riveting tour de force as a cold blooded assassin that hires an unsuspecting cabbie to drive him to his contracts. Throughout the film, he kept us on the edge of our seats with his complex, unpredictable and brutal performance that came off as both menacing and likeable, all while pulling off the silver fox look!

#7 – Lestat de Lioncourt: “Interview With The Vampire” (1994)


Would you believe that Anne Rice originally objected to Cruise starring as the suave European vampire from her vampire novel? Fortunately, the actor gave such a masterful and multi-layered performance that Rice quickly recanted her objections. After all, few actors could play such a charismatic, yet twisted character that self-indulgently embraces vampirism for what it is. Cue the homoerotic undertones!

#6 – Frank T.J. Mackay: “Magnolia” (1999)


As one of many interconnected people trying to find happiness, Cruise plays the vest-wearing author of “Seduce and Destroy”, a self-help system for men to tame women. Here, he sharply sells his character’s philosophy and perfectly frames the rest of the film. Not only did the role garner a Golden Globe win and an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor, Cruise personally regards this as some of his finest work.

#5 – Les Grossman: “Tropic Thunder” (2008)


Anyone else only realize that it was Cruise under the fat suit during the end credits? This comeback role must have been an outlet for his rage against Hollywood, as he plays an over the top Stuart Cornfield-inspired hot head! His funniest performance ever, Cruise lets loose with outrageous dialogue, eye-catching bling and hilarious dancing. This also made it clear that his talents stretch beyond his good looks and naturally lush head of hair!

#4 – Lt. Daniel Kaffee: “A Few Good Men” (1992)


A court drama, this film showcased Cruise as an inexperienced navy Lieutenant assigned to defend two marines involved in a deadly hazing ordered by a self-important Colonel. Cruise earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor for not only playing an unshakably serious and devoted officer, but for captivating us with his desperate search for the truth and intense face-off with Jack Nicholson.

#3 – Lt. Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell: “Top Gun” (1986)


It was this iconic role of a jet fighter that propelled the actor to the top of Hollywood’s A-list! Cruise stars as a ballsy and reckless pilot caught up in a competition for the prestigious and highly coveted “Top Gun” title. This adrenaline-fueled film saw Cruise transition from a cocky daredevil to a man struggling to regain his nerve. Not to mention that we still associate blue jeans with that Lovin’ Feeling! Not bad for an actor who vomited during his first pre-production prep flight!

#2 – Jerry Maguire: “Jerry Maguire” (1996)


In this Oscar nominated role, Cruise plays a sports agent fired for having a crisis of conscious over the welfare of his clients. This forces him to pin his future on an equally desperate football player. Cruise seamlessly drifts between drama, comedy and romance, to give us an entertaining Hollywood bro-mance. Plus, everyone still uses his unforgettable catch phrase that is great for such things as birthday parties and job interviews!

#1 – Ethan Hunt: “Mission Impossible Series” (1996-)


Taking the top spot on our list is the performance that made Tom Cruise an action star! That’s right; we’re talking about his long-running stint as the team leader of the Impossible Mission Force. This has allowed him to perform unbelievable stunts, speak foreign languages, kick a whole lot of ass, and fearlessly save the world time and time again. It similarly accomplished the impossible by keeping the provocative actor hanging around the top of Hollywood’s A-List.

Do you agree with our list? Which is your favorite Tom Cruise performance? For more great Top 10 lists, be sure to visit us at WatchMojo.com.
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