Tom Cruise: All Films Considered

Operating on another level

Average Metascore 60
Films Starring Tom Cruise
Average User Score 7.2
Average Gross (U.S. only) $96.4M

Maverick, Cole Trickle, Lestat, Ethan Hunt, Jerry Maguire, Les Grossman -- these are just a few of the memorable characters that Tom Cruise has played over the years. The charismatic star is one of the brightest Hollywood has ever produced. His success in the ’80s and ’90s was nearly unparalleled, and while his cachet may have gone down a bit in the 2000s with his couch-jumping, thetan-espousing antics, he’s currently attempting to slip back into his action lead wheelhouse.

Cruise returns to the screen this week as a charming, unhinged, and mysterious secret agent Roy Miller alongside Cameron Diaz’ dazzled June Havens in action caper Knight and Day. After two disappointing lead performances in Lions for Lambs 47 and Valkyrie 56, Cruise is courting both the male (action) and female (romance) audiences with this attempt at recapturing his box-office star power. Advance buzz is light, but with such an anemic summer at the movies and the only real new competition being Grown Ups, the film could be a surprise hit for the two stars, who could really use one.

So, lets take a look back at Mr. Cruise’s highs and lows at the box office and with critics. We feel the need -- the need for Cruise!

Comparative Box Office Performance of Tom Cruise's Films
Year Title Metascore Users Opening Weekend / Domestic Gross *
1981Taps ** n/a n/a ** / $97.5Mbarbar
1983 The Outsiders387.312.8 / 64.9barbar
1983Losin' It51n/a1.1 / 3.1barbar
1983Risky Business756.510.8 / 160.4barbar
1983 All the Right Moves ** 6210.0 ** / 43.5barbar
1985Legend n/a n/a9.1 / 33.2barbar
1986Top Gun n/a n/a17.6 / 378.8 barbar
1986 The Color of Money n/a n/a13.6 / 112.1barbar
1988Cocktail124.922.8 / 151.3barbar
1988Rain Man657.713.6 / 344.2barbar
1989 Born on the Fourth of July ** 7510.0 ** / 131.6 barbar
1990Days of Thunder607.529.1 / 155.4barbar
1992Far and Away496.219.5 / 112.8barbar
1992 A Few Good Men626.729.7 / 271.1barbar
1993 The Firm587.048.8 / 304.1barbar
1994Interview with the Vampire598.369.2 / 199.8barbar
1996Mission: Impossible606.881.7 / 325.5barbar
1996Jerry Maguire778.630.7 / 269.7barbar
1999Eyes Wide Shut688.634.0 / 87.2barbar
1999 Magnolia ** 777.5 ** / 33.2 barbar
2000Mission: Impossible 2606.085.3 / 317.7 barbar
2001Vanilla Sky457.335.1 / 139.7barbar
2002Minority Report807.448.8 / 180.7barbar
2003 The Last Samurai557.232.0 / 144.8barbar
2004Collateral717.531.6 / 129.3barbar
2005War of the Worlds736.380.5 / 290.6barbar
2006Mission: Impossible III666.757.9 / 162.7barbar
2007Lions for Lambs474.97.7 / 17.3barbar
2008Valkyrie565.723.3 / 92.0barbar
2010 Knight and Day Opens June 23, 2010

* All box office figures in the table above are adjusted for inflation for purposes of comparison.
** Film opened in limited release; opening weekend grosses are not available.
Cameos and other minor roles excluded. Grosses are in millions and reflect U.S. receipts only. Source: Box Office Mojo.

Tom Cruise's 5 Best-Reviewed Movies
  Movie Year Netflix Metascore Users
1 Minority Report 2002 80 7.4
"Cruise will never be a master thespian, but there's no one better at putting across the charisma of control, and the opening sequence of 'Report' is an astonishingly fluid demonstration of his gifts."
-- Jay Carr, Boston Globe
The most popular star in the world at the time first teamed with most popular director in the world at the time, Steven Spielberg, in this Philip K. Dick-inspired science-fiction mystery. His portrayal of framed Chief John Anderton was simultaneously intense and emotional, two words that fit Cruise to a T.
  Budget: $102M U.S. Gross: $132M
2 Jerry Maguire 1996 77 8.6
"The engine that drives Jerry Maguire is Cruise, giving the kind of performance that all but deconstructs his recent series of glib leading-man roles."
-- John Hartl,
Cruise had us at hello with what could go down as the best role of his career. The Cameron Crowe-penned sports agent who has his world turned upside down after having an epiphany and losing his job allowed Cruise to flex his acting muscles and show us a vulnerability that we had rarely seen until then. He earned his second Oscar nomination for the performance.
  Budget: $50M U.S. Gross: $154M
3 Magnolia 1999 77 7.5
"The best Tom Cruise performance I've ever seen."
-- Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader
Paul Thomas Anderson’s polarizing character study featured a show-stopping performance by Cruise as relationship advice infomercial maven Frank T.J. Mackey. His charisma and charm are smokescreens for the audience that make his emotional explosion at the end of the film all that more powerful. Always career-savvy, Cruise capped the ’90s with this film and Eyes Wide Shut; two atypical films that appealed to a more intellectual crowd. He earned his most recent Oscar nomination (in a supporting role) for his work.
  Budget: $37M U.S. Gross: $22M
4 Risky Business 1983 75 6.5
"Mr. Cruise makes Joel's transformation from straight arrow to entrepreneur about as credible as it can be made."
-- Janet Maslin, The New York Times
The movie that made Tom Cruise a star was this slick examination of teenage boy fantasy. Cruise played Joel, a suburban teen who meets a hooker and her pimp and has his life changed forever. The shades-wearing dude sliding into frame in his boxers is an iconic image that Cruise still can’t shake.
  Budget: $6M U.S. Gross: $64M
5 Born on the Fourth of July 1989 75 10.0
"For all its flaws, Born on the Fourth of July provides the final proof that Tom Cruise is the real thing -- a movie star with all the natural, unforced ability to connect with an audience that the title implies."
-- Dave Kehr, Chicago Tribune

Playing Vietnam vet Ron Kovic wasn’t the first time Cruise had stretched his legs dramatically. His underrated performance as Charlie Babbitt in Rain Man the year before was only a hint at his versatility. His heartbreaking portrayal of an idealistic soldier turned wheelchair-bound antiwar activist earned Cruise his first of three Oscar nominations.

  Budget: $14M U.S. Gross: $70M
Tom Cruise's 5 Worst-Reviewed Movies
  Movie Year Netflix Metascore Users
1 Cocktail 1988 12 4.9
"Cruise is walking in the footsteps of Troy Donahue and John Travolta here. He does what comes easy. He bumps and grinds and grins till his lips ache. It's a performance with all the integrity of wax fruit."
-- Rita Kempley, Washington Post
"When he pours, he reigns"? Not quite. This cautionary tale of excess in the big city seen through the eyes of Cruise’s tricky bartender Brian Flanagan was his biggest blunder at the time, and hasn’t aged well at all. The film is mostly known for The Beach Boys song “Kokomo” that’s featured on the soundtrack.
  Budget: $6M U.S. Gross: $78M
2 The Outsiders 1983 38 7.3
"Like the greasers, The Outsiders often seems to be busily, handsomely going nowhere."
-- Richard Corliss, Time
To be fair, Cruise is only one part of a large ensemble (Patrick Swayze, Emilio Estevez, Matt Dillon, Ralph Macchio, C. Thomas Howell, Rob Lowe, Diane Lane) of then soon-to-be movie stars. His hyperactive portrayal of Steve Randle isn’t particularly nuanced, but watching him running around playing grab-ass is fun, considering he would slide to the lead of the pack later in the year with the release of Risky Business
  Budget: $10M U.S. Gross: $26M
3 Vanilla Sky 2001 45 7.3
"The film's aim -- to dazzle and inspire -- is sapped by Cruise's vein-popping, running-the-marathon performance."
-- Edward Guthmann, San Francisco Chronicle
Cruise re-teamed with Jerry Maguire director Crowe in a poorly conceived and executed remake of the 1997 Spanish film Abre los ojos (Open Your Eyes). The overly ambitious (and convoluted) science-fiction premise required Cruise’s face to be deformed and obscured through a large portion of the film.
  Budget: $68M U.S. Gross: $101M
4 Lions for Lambs 2007 47 4.9
"The one scorching performance here, cheerfully laying waste to the niggles of the peacemakers, is that of Tom Cruise, who does for Republican warmongering what he did for the rampant libido in 'Magnolia.'."
-- Anthony Lane, The New Yorker
The Robert Redford-directed think piece starred Cruise as a U.S. Senator giving an interview to a journalist (played by Meryl Streep) about a new war strategy in Afghanistan. An overly earnest effort that didn’t appeal to audiences weary of reality resulted in one of Cruise’s least-seen performances.
  Budget: $35M U.S. Gross: $15M
5 Far and Away 1992 49 6.2
"Cruise has no edge, no inner fire. He lacks the passionate, volatile qualities that might have expanded the character into something more than a screenwriter's concoction. ... Machine-tooled and weightless — that's Cruise in Far and Away. And that's the movie as well."
-- Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly
Cruise and then-wife Nicole Kidman followed up racecar drama Days of Thunder with this visually beautiful but catastrophically dull tale of Irish immigrants in late 1800s America. Cruise’s bad luck with accents (his German officer in Valkyrie had no accent at all) begins here. The film is almost more known on the technical side, as it’s one of the last films to be shot in 70 mm.
  Budget: $60M U.S. Gross: $59M

What do you think?

Which Tom Cruise films are your favorites -- or least favorites? Are you looking forward to Knight and Day? Let us know in the comments section below.

We're sorry, but comments are closed for this article.

Comments (20)

  • Mitch Tough  

    A Few Good Men still reigns supreme for me. And Top Gun - come on - the movie of that decade (not in terms of quality - but in excitement and fun... definitely)

  • Dylan  

    ahhhh...what about Rainman , Color of Money.or Top Gun

    Not to mention Minority Report is number one....come on. The people that put together this stuff need to step back and take a look with an eye toward common sense. Minority Report...Hell, Far and Away was much better.

  • Boled  

    Minority Report was great. Definetely Cruise's no 1

  • akehoe  

    When are you people going to realize these lists are based off the Meta Scores and not compiled on someone's opinion. Seriously, every list they do it's the same thing.

  • Darwin Gutierre  

    Vanilla Sky was amazing way better than the original 1997 version most critics where wrong about this one should be his second best next to magnolia.

  • Brandon  

    This is the first time I've ever been to this website, and even I knew the list was based on the little boxes with the numbers in it.

    Smart crowd 'round here.

  • Ed  

    Very interesting!
    It's funny, I've never seen **** but fans SWEAR by it. Now knowing it got a rating of 12, I'll never watch it.

    I really think War of the Worlds should be in his top 5. Collateral was amazing and Minority was def his best!

  • keith  

    Tom Cruise is a up and down guy but the one movie that he impressed me the most was Jerry Maguire and the Firm he was very likeable and entertaining in those movies. His worst is probably The Outsiders just because he didn't stand out from the rest of the star filled cast. But, one movie that I was impressed by which I didn't know he had that character in him was Tropic Thunder when he was the boss. Thought gave me a shock because he played great in that role.

  • Jordan  

    Say what you want about the man, personally I still love him, but he is bar none one of the best, if not the best actor in Hollywood. I love his movies, especially the Mission Impossibles. Cant wait for Knight and Day

  • steve  

    i agree with jordan -- cruise has already had a great career, and i'm looking forward to the rest of it -- i think he's a very good actor with a lot of devotion to his craft -- "jerry mcguire" is my fave cruise vehicle ...

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