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Tom Cruise's 21 best movies – from Risky Business to Top Gun: Maverick

To celebrate the Mission: Impossible star's 60th birthday, we've compiled a list of his very best films.

Tom Cruise saluting with tears in his eyes as as Pete Mitchell in Top Gun Maverick
YouTube/Paramount Pictures
Published: Sunday, 3rd July 2022 at 8:00 am
21 items
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Since he first emerged as a major star in the 1980s, few Hollywood celebrities have enjoyed more success on the silver screen than Tom Cruise – success that has continued this year with the phenomenal box office performance of Top Gun: Maverick.

And with the star celebrating his 60th birthday this weekend, now's the perfect time to look back at some of the highlights of his career, from his more dramatic roles in the '80s and '90s to his sublime all-action performances in the '00s and '10s.

Across four decades, Cruise has worked with many of the finest filmmakers in the world including Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola, Michael Mann, Brian De Palma, Stanley Kubrick, and Paul Thomas Anderson – not a bad CV!

And since 1996 he's also been the face of one of the biggest action franchises in the world in the shape of Mission: Impossible, having already starred in six instalments and with a further two to follow.

All in all, it's a pretty incredible filmography – and so without further ado, here are Tom Cruise's best films as chosen by

Showing items 1 to 21 of 21

  • The Outsiders

    Drama starring Matt Dillon and Ralph Macchio. In 1960s small-town America, two rival gangs are involved in the usual confrontations. The "Socs", the rich college kids, are at war with the "Greasers" from the other side of town. But their rivalry takes a serious turn when one fight ends with the death of a boy.

  • Magnolia

    Audacious ensemble drama, from the writer/director of Boogie Nights, starring Tom Cruise, Julianne Moore and Jason Robards. San Fernando Valley, California, the present: the lives of nine seemingly unconnected individuals begin to intersect over the course of one day.

  • The Color of Money

    Martin Scorsese's sequel to The Hustler, starring Paul Newman, Tom Cruise and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio. Liquor salesman and former pool hustler "Fast" Eddie Felson has long since put aside his cue and now backs young players in return for a slice of their winnings. When Felson spots the raw talent of Vincent Lauria, he persuades him to undertake a six-week pool-room tour in preparation for a big tournament.

  • Risky Business

    Risqué teen comedy starring Tom Cruise and Rebecca De Mornay. Left to safeguard the family home while his parents are away, promising student Joel Goodson seizes the chance to have the time of his life. But when a friend's prank results in Joel being visited by troubled prostitute Lana, things get out of hand.

  • Top Gun

    Blockbuster action drama starring Tom Cruise, Kelly McGillis and Val Kilmer. Pete "Maverick" Mitchell is a rebellious pilot who is accepted into the air combat training programme at Miramar Naval Air Station. There he finds romance with one of his instructors as he battles to be the best.

  • Rain Man

    Oscar-winning drama starring Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise. Hustler Charlie Babbitt feels cheated when he is disinherited in favour of his autistic older brother Raymond, whom he hardly knows. Demanding a fair share of his late father's fortune from his brother's trustees, Charlie takes Raymond out of care and heads for California.

  • Born on the Fourth of July

    Biographical drama starring Tom Cruise. Fired with enthusiasm, young Ron Kovic volunteers for the Vietnam War only to be wounded in battle. Paralysed from the chest down, he returns to an America vastly different from the one he left and attempts to heal the mental and physical wounds he has sustained.

  • A Few Good Men

    Courtroom drama starring Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson and Demi Moore. Navy lawyer Daniel Kaffee is assigned to defend two marines accused of killing a colleague at their base in Cuba. As he gathers evidence for the case, Kaffee encounters strong opposition from the base's disciplinarian commanding officer.

  • The Firm

    Legal thriller based on John Grisham's bestseller, starring Tom Cruise, Jeanne Tripplehorn and Gene Hackman. Top Harvard law graduate Mitch McDeere expects to find work in the big city, but the highest bid for his talents comes from a paternalistic Memphis firm. Mitch throws himself into the job, despite his wife Abby's reservations, only to be warned by the FBI that the deaths of two company associates weren't accidental.

  • Mission: Impossible

    Action spy thriller based on the 1960s TV series, starring Tom Cruise, Jon Voight and Emmanuelle Béart. The elite Impossible Mission Force's latest assignment is to recover stolen information that threatens to blow the cover of US spies throughout the world. But the plan goes disastrously wrong.

  • Jerry Maguire

    Romantic comedy starring Tom Cruise, Cuba Gooding Jr and Renée Zellweger. As a top agent at Sports Management International, Jerry Maguire knows his way around and is his own man... until one day he gets an attack of decency and finds himself out of a job. Now he must start from scratch. His only allies are a single mother, her cheeky young son and a second-rate player for the Arizona Cardinals.

  • Eyes Wide Shut

    Psychological drama, the last film by director Stanley Kubrick, starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. Unsettled by his wife's confession of erotic fantasies about another man, Dr William Harford is thrown into a series of destructive sexual encounters that threaten to engulf him and destroy his marriage.

  • Minority Report

    Futuristic action thriller from director Steven Spielberg, based on the Philip K Dick short story, starring Tom Cruise, Colin Farrell and Samantha Morton. In the mid-21st century, John Anderton is in charge of the Justice Department's Precrime unit, an elite force that can predict offences and make arrests before the crimes are committed. But Anderton's life falls apart when he is labelled a future murderer and forced to go on the run to clear his name.

  • The Last Samurai

    Period action drama, starring Tom Cruise. In 1876, after witnessing the US military brutality against native Americans, Captain Nathan Algren turns to drink to escape his battle nightmares. Hired by the young Japanese emperor to train the country's first modern, conscript army, Algren is forced to lead an inadequate campaign against the ancient line of Japanese warriors, the Samurai. But when he is captured by these alleged national enemies, he begins to doubt his mission.

  • Collateral

    Action crime thriller from the director of Heat, starring Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx. Suave hitman Vincent hijacks taxi driver Max and forces him to stop at a variety of locations in Los Angeles where he carries out his gruesome business. Realising that his unwilling participation will end with his demise, Max looks for means of escape.

  • Tropic Thunder

    Comedy action adventure starring Ben Stiller, Robert Downey Jr and Jack Black. While filming an epic Vietnam War movie in the jungle, a group of pampered, egotistical actors find themselves fighting for their lives when they stumble across heavily armed drug lords.

  • Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol

    Action spy thriller starring Tom Cruise. The elite Impossible Missions Force is officially disbanded after being blamed for a botched operation, forcing agent Ethan Hunt and his crack team to go off grid to prevent a terrorist from causing a nuclear disaster.

  • Edge of Tomorrow

    Sci-fi action drama starring Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt. After being killed on his first day of combat in a war against aliens, Major William Cage finds himself in a time loop, living the same day over and over again. Gaining more knowledge each time he is killed, Cage realises that the key to victory is for him to keep on dying.

  • Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation

    Spy adventure starring Tom Cruise. After the CIA chief persuades a Senate committee to disband the Impossible Missions Force, Ethan Hunt and his team are forced to act covertly. Their mission is to thwart a shadowy organisation known as the Syndicate, a network of rogue operatives plotting a series of global terror attacks.

  • Mission: Impossible - Fallout

    Action spy thriller starring Tom Cruise, Rebecca Ferguson and Henry Cavill. Ethan Hunt is sent to Berlin to buy three stolen plutonium cores before a terrorist group can get a hold of them. But after a hostage crisis leads to the failure of the mission, Hunt is targeted by a CIA assassin who could derail the IMF for good.

  • Top Gun: Maverick

    After more than thirty years of service as one of the Navy's top aviators, Pete Mitchell is where he belongs, pushing the envelope as a courageous test pilot and dodging the advancement in rank that would ground him.

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