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)

  • Mary G  

    I have been trying to remember - Did Tom Cruise make a movie similar to Liam Neeson's "Unknown"?

  • Kirk  

    So Tom has grossed more than a billion dollars with the movies he's starred in, thats serious coinage.

    So just think how much you haters suck, Cruise has accomplished more than all of you and the guy still looks young too !

    Seems to me Tom is doing pretty well, I mean who would you trade with Oprah or Tom ?

    Ok you haters can have Stedman , I would take Katie anyday.

    Katie is KOOOOL and so is Surie.


  • Chantelle Sgro  

    I like Tom Cruise himself and I think he's a really fantastic actor, and is great at putting up an act even when he's not on stage. His and Katie's clothes on the Red Carpet at the UK _Valkyrie_ premiere were just very great.

  • Denise  

    Pains me a bit to see how he's faded away, mostly because of being too outspoken on his personal/religious views. I used to have such a movie star crush on him when I was a kid! Minority Report is hands down my favorite sci-fi movie of the 00s. Career-wise he'd be smart to seek out better roles as supporting actor to try and mend the public's view on him. 'Cause right now people don't like him that much. Sorry, Tom!

  • Bitterblogger  

    Few have sustained as long a career in the stratosphere as Mr. Cruise, which is testament to a canny propensity for choosing roles that fit him. Fewer still have acting chops to go with their movie star power--he was outstanding in four movies: Born on the Fourth of July, Magnolia, Rain Man and Jerry Maguire, plus appearing in others that were well received. What will bar him from the pantheon of all-time greats are personal life issues--the Scientology promotion, the failure of his marriage to Nicole Kidman, the behavior on Oprah's couch, and the persistent closet gay rumors--that, as his career ebbs, threaten to overtake the public's perception of him.

  • Steve  

    I personally thought Minority Report was his worst movie. Extremely boring, IMO. Born on the 4th, and Rain Man are my two favorites. I personally can connect with Rain Man, as I have an autistic sibling as well as AS, and a friend with AS as well. Born on the 4th stood out a lot because there aren't a lot of movies that talk about the effects of war on a soldier after it takes place. Particularly Vietnam, where many men came back... literally, half of themselves. It was a powerful movie that really got me into it. I don't really find very many movies that can draw me in like Born on the 4th did. Jerry Maguire was okay, but not #2, or even worthy of #3. My personal #3 is Top Gun because come on, they named a video game after one of the lines!!! The NEED FOR SPEED!!!!!!!!

  • Christian  

    Star power is key here. Cruise can do good work and to me its interesting that when he plays an over-confident hyperactive control freak who gets knocked down a notch or two he is at his most interesting. Think Rain Man (one of his best performances), Jerry Maguire, Magnolia, Born on the Fourth of July, Color of Money, and especially Collateral (Maybe his best overall work). It may be repetitive, but it's good repetitive. The man knows his strengths, and works to those. A very smart, although not always great, actor.

  • JoeMomma  

    I had grown tired of Cruise, but his portrayal of Les Grossman in Tropic Thunder gave me new found repect for the actor. It was the perfect role for him. Playing a cynical Hollywood sleazeball.

  • Why Not  

    I question the retro-active Meta-Critic score for some of the older movies. My sense is that both Rainman and The Firm received better reviews than is indicated by their scores. My sense is also that MI:1 received better reviews than MI:2. Something has definitely been lost over time. The meta-critic score is meant to represent the consensus, but it's probable that certain types of reviews are more likely to remain available after many years and that results in an observable bias in the the meta-critic scores.

  • Joe  

    Jerry Maguire & Collateral are easily his best films in my opinion, but Minority Report was very good.

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