When talking about Hollywood’s charismatic, action hero, Tom Cruise is a name that doesn’t require an introduction. Not only has he left an indelible mark on the industry, but his fanbase is dedicated, all thanks to her versatility and charming presence on screen.
Cruise’s filmography is a testament to his enduring talent and if you are planning a marathon of his movies and want to get an idea of where to start, we have sorted them all out for you in chronological order.
In this article, we will take a look at the top Tom Cruise movies in order, along with years of release so you can watch them in the order they were released in.
1. Endless Love (1981)
The breakthrough or the debut of Tom Cruise in Hollywood happened with Endless Love, which, as the name suggests, is a romantic drama. The film follows the life of Jade and David, who fall in love after being introduced by Jade’s brother. However, things take a turn for the worse as mysteries unfold along the way. While the film itself received mixed reviews, Cruise’s performance hinted at the charisma and talent that would define his future roles.
2. Losin’ It (1983)
Before Tom Cruise became an action hero, his specialty lay in romantic dramas and Losin’ It is one of those early movies that deserve a shoutout. Cruise portrayed the role of Woody, who, along with his friends drives up to Tijuana to help Kathy get a divorce from her husband. The sex appeal in the movie and the interactive plotline sure did catch the attention of the audience right away, making it a popular name in the list.
3. Top Gun (1986)
If there’s one movie franchise that has brought Cruise the fame that he has today is Top Gun. Directed by Tony Scott, “Top Gun” showcased Cruise as Maverick, a daring fighter pilot with a need for speed. The movie’s iconic aerial sequences and Cruise’s charismatic portrayal made it a cultural phenomenon.
4. The Color of Money (1986)
Teaming up with screen legend Paul Newman, Cruise took on the role of Vincent Lauria, a talented pool hustler. The movie was directed by Martin Scorsese, despite being a new actor, the movie showcased Cruise’s ability as one of the most seasoned actors and also showcased the depth of his skills.
5. Rain Man (1988)
In “Rain Man,” Cruise starred opposite Dustin Hoffman in a powerful drama that explored themes of family, autism, and self-discovery. Tom Cruise portrayed the role of Charlie Babbitt and it also earned him an Academy Award nomination for his unique portrayal of the new character.
6. Days of Thunder (1990)
Collaborating with Tony Scott, Tom Cruise took on the role of Cole Trickle, a hotshot NASCAR driver the movie is known for its action and racing sequences, which further put Tom Cruise as a leading man in Hollywood, showcasing his capability of tackling a wide range of roles.
7. Far and Away (1992)
“Far and Away” saw Cruise in a romantic epic set against the backdrop of the Oklahoma Land Rush and the movie was directed by famous director Ron Howard. Tom Cruise appeared opposite Nicole Kidman where he showcased his romantic side, further appealing to a diverse range of audiences with a touch of historical drama blended into the mix.
8. A Few Good Men (1992)
Another 1992 release that deserves a shoutout is this popular legal drama that’s directed by Rob Reiner where Cruise portrayed the role of Lt. Daniel Kaffee, a military lawyer defending two Marines accused of murder. He was placed against Jack Nicholson and the movie showcased Cruise’s ability to star in the courtroom series and drama like no other.
9. Jerry Maguire (1996)
Following Top Gun, another breakthrough role that shaped Tom Cruise’s career was in the movie, Jerry Maguire. Directed by Cameron Crowe, Cruise played the titular character, a sports agent who experiences a moral awakening. The film’s quotable lines, including the iconic “Show me the money!” moment, and Cruise’s nuanced performance earned him widespread acclaim.
10. Mission Impossible (1996)
When it comes to action movies, one movie that stands out as a leading name in Tom Cruise’s career and Hollywood in general is Mission Impossible?. It is one of those movies that will remain evergreen and without any questions asked. Cruise brought to life Ethan Hunt, an IMF agent known for his daring missions. The movie was directed by Brian de Palma and showcased Cruise’s commitment to performing his stunts, which further solidified his presence as an action hero in Hollywood.
11. Mission Impossible 2 (2000)
With the kind of success that the first movie in the installment garnered, it is safe to say that the sequel didn’t disappoint either. This adrenaline-fuelled mission stood out due to its stylized action sequences and Cruise’s dedication to performing intense stunts. The immaculate action sequences explain why the show has gained so much recognition in the niche of action movies.
12. Vanilla Sky (2001)
This was a remake of a Spanish sci-fi thriller, which didn’t perform the best commercially with the original version but Tom Cruise’s appearance in the remake managed to gain the attention of the audience right away. It managed to acquire over $200 million in total ticket sales and paired with Cameron Crowe’s direction, the movie remains a classic, to this day.
13. Minority Report (2002)
Tom Cruise has worked with some of the leading directors and his work with Steven Spielberg deserves a shoutout as well. Cruise starred in this sci-fi thriller set in a future where crimes are predicted before they occur. Cruise’s portrayal of Chief John Anderton showcased his ability to anchor a film with a compelling performance in a futuristic and visually striking narrative. Overall, to this day, the movie remains a classic and without any questions asked.
14. Collateral (2004)
Not just in the action genre, Tom Cruise has managed to secure his place in the industry due to his versatility. His role in the thriller Collateral is a depiction of just that. Cruise played against type as Vincent, a contract killer. Fans who were tired of seeing Cruise in his archaic heroic roles found this movie as a breath of fresh air and getting to witness Tom Cruise take on a completely different role than you would have expected to witness.
15. War of the Worlds (2005)
Another massive release that adds to Tom Cruise’s career and filmography is this 2005 release. Directed by Steven Spielberg, this sci-fi blockbuster doesn’t require any introduction. Besides the stunning graphical world, the audience was taken to a completely new experience, making this a movie that will forever remain etched into his career. The film showcased Cruise’s ability to anchor a big-budget spectacle, combining intense action sequences with moments of genuine human drama.
16. Valkyrie (2008)
If you have been meaning to witness Tom Cruise in a completely different light, Valkyrie is the movie to watch. Portraying the character of Wehrmacht Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, the movie focused on the failed attempt at assassinating Hitler on July 20, 1944. The movie didn’t perform that well but managed to showcase Cruise’s versatility as an actor, which is exactly what the fans were on the lookout for.
17. Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011)
You can’t detach Tom Cruise from the Mission Impossible franchise, so it makes sense that he would return in the fourth installment as well. Cruise’s commitment to performing his death-defying stunts, including climbing the Burj Khalifa, set a new standard for action filmmaking. When it comes to the storyline and the acting, there’s not much that needs to be discussed or highlighted because if there’s one thing that Tom Cruise is known for, it is consistency.
18. Edge of Tomorrow (2014)
A sci-fi action film directed by Doug Liman, “Edge of Tomorrow” showcased Cruise in a time-loop narrative where he repeatedly fought aliens. One of the most common complaints that Cruise’s fans have is regarding his acting in similar genres of movies. However, you can’t deny the fact that Cruise has managed to stand out each time irrespective of the roles he has starred in and this one is no different.
19. American Made (2017)
Based on the true story of Barry Seal, a drug smuggler turned DEA informant, “American Made” saw Cruise in a darkly comedic and morally ambiguous role. Unlike his traditional action roles, American Made saw Cruise in a completely new light, something that put him further high in the charts among his fanbase. The way Cruise navigated through the complexities of the character he portrayed was fascinating to watch on the big screen.
20. Top Gun: Maverick (2022)
Top Gun is one of those OG movies that put Tom Cruise as a frontman in Hollywood and its return was equally celebrated, if not more. The sequel witnessed Tom Cruise reprising the role of Maverick and it surely left the fans in a haze and in the best way possible. The combination of action sequences paired with nostalgia managed to ignite a wide range of emotions in the fans.
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