10. Tropic Thunder (2008)
Comedy has never exactly been Cruise’s strong suit, but this insane supporting role as an obscene studio chief is a howler long before you even realize that it’s him beneath the fat suit and bald cap.
9. Minority Report (2002)
Working with Steven Spielberg, Cruise commanded this eerily prescient (should we say pre-cog) sci-fi version of law enforcement in the near future.
8. Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
Costarring with then-wife Nicole Kidman in director Stanley Kubrick’s final film, Cruise played a married doctor who descends into a New York underworld of sex and intrigue. Come for the masked orgies, stay for one of the actor’s most simmering performances.
7. Collateral (2004)
Turning to the darker side, Cruise portrayed his first true antihero role as a suave hitman in Michael Mann’s gleaming Los Angeles thriller.
6. Risky Business (1983)
A star is born. Armed with tighty-whities and Ray Bans, Cruise (at 21) slid straight onto Hollywood’s A-List with this classic comedy about a high school straight arrow who learns that sometimes you just have to say “What the f—“.
5. Edge of Tomorrow (2014)
In Doug Liman’s brain-scrambling, time-looping sci-fi action film, Cruise brilliantly poked holes in his own image as a cowardly soldier stuck in a Groundhog-Day-style bit of battlefield deja vu.
4. Rain Man (1988)
Dustin Hoffman scored Best Actor as an austistic man ripped from the comfort of routine, but watch Cruise’s complex, soulful performance as Hoffman’s cocky brother. He doesn’t need the spotlight to shine.
3. Mission: Impossible - Fallout (2018)
At 56, Tom Cruise shows once again why he’s still Hollywood’s hungriest movie star, upping the ante with the most emotionally textured and most insanely stunt-stuffed entry in the already-great Mission: Impossible cycle.
2. Magnolia (1999)
Still one of the most dazzling change-of-pace roles by any Hollywood movie star, Cruise joined Paul Thomas Anderson’s sprawling ensemble as a swaggering motivational speaker hiding secrets and scars beneath his bravado.
1. Born on the Fourth of July (1989)
Cruise earned his first Oscar nomination for his urgent, harrowing performance as wheelchair-bound Vietnam vet Ron Kovic. This is the moment that the movie star proved that there was a serious, character-acting chameleon underneath the movie star mask.