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Tom Cruise: 10 best performances

Published On: 01 August 2018 | Hollywood | By:

We all know and love our beloved Tom Cruise, here's more just to fill up your gut for more love

Tom Cruise: 10 best performances
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These movies that are on the list are handpicked to be some of the best performances that Tom Cruise has displayed in his career.

 Cruise is a survivor.

For over 30 years, he’s remained in the Hollywood spotlight, accruing a body of work that many top actors would die for (and Cruise, himself, has certainly come close). He’s worked with modern greats like Stanley Kubrick, Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Paul Thomas Anderson, and the best versions of Brian De Palma, Cameron Crowe, and Oliver Stone. And now, the Mission: Impossible series has merited Cruise a reputation as a modern-day Wizard.

Say what you will about his dramatic range, or his philosophies, but Cruise has curated a mostly excellent career. In honor of his body of work, we’re Cruising past the personal and taking a choice moment to appreciate strictly Thomas Cruise Mapother IV’s finer film feats. Ahead, you’ll find not only the man’s most memorable roles but his best performances to date, from Aames to Anderton and Mackey to Maguire. Whoa … this mission just got a hell of a lot more “impossibler.”


“No dream is ever just a dream.” His famous line from the movie has become classic to all audiences. It’s not that Cruise is just pretty to look at — he most certainly is — but he really knows how to absorb the scenery, the emotions, and the energy. 


“Everybody runs.” According to Tom cruise in the film as Captain John Anderton. In his first rendezvous with Spielberg, Cruise leads a superb ensemble cast in a magnificent neo-noir, sci-fi mystery-thriller about free will. Minority Report, loosely based on the 1956 short story by Philip K. Dick, follows Cruise’s John Anderton, a police captain in the year 2054 who nabs criminals before they commit crimes with the help of three psychics called Precogs. But when the Precogs predict that Anderton will murder a man named Leo Crow in 36 hours — despite Anderton having no idea who Leo Crow is — he goes on the run from his own PreCrime unit to try to unearth a flaw in the system, a rare case of the Precogs disagreeing, which is known as a “Minority Report.”


Joel Goodsen's best quuote “You know, Bill, there’s one thing I learned in all my years. Sometimes you just gotta say, ‘What the f***, make your move.'”

Risky Business showcases Cruise at his most, well, adorable. As Goodsen, he shows up in a simpler, sweeter role where he just got to act like a kind, dweeby, naïve kid. Well, an intrepid, hornball teen, rather, that makes a mint turning his parents’ Highland Park house into a brothel for a night … but it’s all in good fun! He scores on the CTA, squares off with Joey Pants, and gets to have car chases in a Porsche. And Joel’s psycho mother gets all bent out of shape over a crack in an antique piece of glass. So, hey, chalk that up to good luck, Joel.


Without getting too hyperbolic, Cruise can do a lot of things well — he can cry, he can smile, he can run, he can hold his breath for six minutes. However, one of his oft-forgotten calling cards is his ability to make the act of frustration most entertaining. When he’s working stuff out in his head, those eyes of his do all the heavy lifting, scanning infinity and beyond for answers that aren’t quite clear yet. And once those eyes close, he does the whole forehead rubdown thing, where he digs his hand into his head before slicing the air with one sizzler of a line. 


“I’ll see you in another life … when we are both cats.”

Tom Cruise wants to be taken seriously (yeah...sure). This is a fact we forget every time he manages to embarrass himself publicly, but it’s what led him to Kubrick, and it’s certainly what led him to this remake of Alejandro Amenábar’s Abre los ojos (Open Your Eyes). Cruise had become enamored with the Spanish film, and he did what every narcissist does when they love something: he found himself in it.


When fans of Anne Rice’s 1976 cult-hit novel Interview with the Vampire found out that Tom Cruise was to play Lestat in the film version, the uproar — in the infancy of the online forum, mind you — made headlines. Rice also criticized the casting choice at the time, saying that the idea of Cruise as her lascivious big bad was “so bizarre; it’s almost impossible to imagine how it’s going to work.” After seeing the completed film, however, Rice ate her words, writing a letter of apology that praised Cruise’s performance. “From the moment he appeared,” she wrote, “Tom was Lestat for me.”


Even by Cameron Crowe’s notoriously earnest standards, Jerry Maguire is a film to which only the most sincere among us need apply. The above quote comes at the end of a scene that arguably couldn’t fly today, but the same could be said of most of Maguire, one of the first and still the most successful iterations of Crowe’s later-career mode: films about men who experience emotional and spiritual growth only after cataclysmic professional failures destroy the false, materialistic lives they once coveted.


We rarely see Cruise take the role of the villain. For 30 years, he mostly represents the All-American hero in jet planes, law offices, and a variety of action set pieces. Collateral is Cruise playing against type. His Vincent is so underground that we never learn his last name. A head full of gray hair and a weathered face are worlds away from the actor’s boyish, ageless features.


Cruise’s character goes through more change in this film than any character of his ever has before or since. He plays Ron Kovic in three stages: high school Ronnie is wide-eyed and naïve, disabled Vietnam vet Ron is an emotional mess, and activist Ron finds purpose in his complicated life. Cruise had successfully pulled off the pretty-boy role in movies like Risky Business, The Color of Money, and Top Gun, but this was his chance to show audiences his true potential as an actor.


“Respect the cock. You are embedding this thought. I am the one who’s in charge. I am the one who says yes! No! Now! Here! Because it’s universal, man. It is evolutional. It is anthropological. It is biological. It is animal. We … are … men.”

When he’s reunited with his estranged, dying father (Jason Robards), his anger toward the man who left him with a sick mother gives way to uncontrollable sobbing. “Don’t go away, you fucking asshole, don’t go away,” he repeats over and over, bringing so many dimensions to what, in another actor’s hands, could have just been a standard ugly cry. Cruise reportedly drew from his abandonment by (and eventual reunion with) his own father for the role, an emotional risk that ripped open the chest of his established action-hero masculinity to reveal the quivering little boy underneath.

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