Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Top 5 Films Featuring Tom Cruise

This list is in no particular order. These are just some of my favorite films that Tom Cruise, the actor and one of the stars of the new film Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol has been in over the years that I enjoyed either based solely on his performance or it was just a generally well made and enjoyable film that he happened to part of in a supporting capacity.

Say what you will about the man's personal life, he has made some great movies. This has been the hardest list of five films for an actor yet. There are so many other movies that should be a part of this list just simply because of their historical value (Top Gun & Eyes Wide Shut for instance). But what is even more staggering than some of his more iconic roles is that the man has made far fewer films than most would probably suspect. It just goes to show how much of an impact he has had as an actor that with so few films under his belt (compared to most actors that is) that he is and has been one of the biggest names in Hollywood of all time. He may have fallen from glory a few years back but nothing he or anyone can ever do will erase the mark he has had on the film industry as a whole. The following films are my five favorite Tom Cruise movies but unlike most other actors I have made these lists for, I could have easily made this a top 20 list if I wanted to.



Michael Mann's film about an aging hitman who befriends a local cab driver has what many consider(ed) a transformative role for Cruise. I know a lot of people like to point out how different it was to see Cruise as the bad guy but that isn't what really sold me on the movie (I still think he was much better as a villain in another movie that also happens to be on this list). No, what makes this movie for me is how lovingly director Michael Mann paints this portrait of Los Angeles. I live around the city and work in it and I will be the first to tell you it isn't the fairy tale land all the tourist trades would like you to believe. But this movie gave me a new outlook on the city of angels (as did Mann's other crime epic Heat). Tom Cruise playing a villain in it was just a bonus as far as I was concerned. He hadn't really done anything of much note before this for a while (Minority Report withstanding) and I was happy to see him working outside his element. I know Jamie Foxx got a lot of attention for his part in the movie but to be honest it was Cruise's portrayal as a hitman who is tired of living and the beautiful vista of the L.A. landscape that I took away from the experience.



Barry Levinson's Rain Man was a turning point for Tom Cruise's career. Gone were the days of popcorn entertainment movies and in their place we got a series of films where the charismatic young actor began what I like to refer to as his pupil days. He started down this path of co-starring with some of the film industry's biggest names such as Paul Newman, Dustin Hoffman, Robert Duvall, Jack Nicholson and Gene Hackman in some sort of bid to finally become accepted by the Hollywood elite. But Rain Man was his first real push for legitimacy and he couldn't have picked a better film to do it with. I love road trip movies and to this day no other movie has trumped this one for me. The story of two long lost brothers bonding while on the road won't win any awards (oh wait...I guess it did) but it was the chemistry between Cruise and Hoffman that made everything work. Tom Cruise had done some great work up to this point in his career but this was the movie that solidified him as a credible dramatic leading man.



Remember the outrage leveled against this movie when it was first announced that Tom Cruise was going to be playing the vampire Lestat? Then once it was released everyone couldn't stop praising him for his performance. While I wasn't one of the people upset at the casting choice, I was most certainly one of the people heaping loving amounts of praise on him. Up to this point Cruise had only played the good guy, the guy that may have been flawed in some fashion or another but deep down he was a decent fellow. Interview with the Vampire was a pretty huge departure for him and like most actors that step out of their comfort zone he prevailed. He not only prevailed though, he manifested into one of the greatest on screen vampires of all time in my opinion. His Lestat was coniving, lonesome, evil, beautiful and sad all at the same time. It takes a mighty talented actor to pull that magic trick off and he seemingly did it without blinking. Oh yeah, and the movie is amazing as well. Probably in my top five vampire movies of all time and also my favorite Kirsten Dunst movie as well. Awesome movie that will be cherished by me for a long time to come.



"Sometimes you just gotta say what the f**k", truer words have never been spoken and the Cruise-man has never been this loose in a role since. The closest he ever got was with Jerry Maguire but as Joel Goodson...he just embodied the loss of teenage innocence so perfectly. For all the classic moments that are in this film (the legendary dance in the T-shirt for one) this movie was just a whole lot of fun to watch and still is. Guido the killer pimp, Rebecca De Mornay as the woman every teenage boy dreams of losing their virginity to and of course the porsche...who can forget the porsche? This was the movie that got Tom Cruise noticed and it also just so happens to be the first film I ever saw the guy in (Losin It and Taps I caught much later). Risky Buisness stands as one of the very best teenage guy wish fulfillment movies of all time and is required viewing for every guy at some point in their lives. Don't except any substitutes...this movie is the real deal.



It has taken a little while but I have come to the conclusion that Magnolia is my favorite P.T. Anderson movie. Hard Eight was a great first film, Boogie Nights is a really fun look at the ever changing adult film industry, Punch Drunk Love is THE best Adam Sandler movie EVER and There Will Be Blood was visually stunning but lacking in everything else for me. But Magnolia...ah, I love thee. Tom Cruise earned a best supporting actor nomination for his role as the womanizing self-help guru Frank Mackey. His energy was unstoppable, the sermon he preaches about how to tame the wild beast (woman) was absolutely riveting and the secret behind his life lessons was heartwrenching. If I had to nail down my favorite "character" Tom Cruise has played I would have to go with Mackey. Even though he had such a small role in a film filled with actors in small roles he still stood out from the rest (which is saying something given the talent on hand here). The movie is something to be treasured as well and while many always point towards the absurdly bizarre final moments as the highlight, I actually found the journey of Frank Mackey to be the true star of the show. Fantastic film that admittedly isn't for everyone but should still be seen by everyone. "Respect the c**k...tame the c**t!"



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