Tom Cruise is our greatest living movie star, plain and simple. While the term “movie star” is used less and less in today’s Hollywood landscape, Cruise remains a supreme entertainer, a larger-than-life performer—an icon of the silver screen, truly. His persona transcends celebrity, and over the last 35 years he has delivered memorable performance after memorable performance, proving adept at traversing a variety of genres—some with more success than others. From the boyish 80s protagonist to classic leading man to action hero, Cruise’s film career is the epitome of success, and it’s a testament to his talent that he can be taken just as seriously in a dark, complex drama from an auteur filmmaker as he can in a major blockbuster franchise.
And while PR troubles led to a sharp left turn into exclusively blockbuster-type material in the mid-2000s, Cruise remains a reliable source of entertainment. Audiences can rest assured that when they see a Tom Cruise movie, the actor is leaving nothing on the table. This is the guy who literally hung off the tallest building in the world for our entertainment. It’s this focus on pleasing audiences that exemplifies Cruise’s status as “movie star,” but it’s the actor’s talent, ambition, and willingness to venture into uncertain territory that makes him our greatest living movie star.
As such, it felt appropriate to dive back into Cruise’s entire filmography, take a closer look at his entire body of work from Taps to American Made, and rank every single film from worst to best. While at first this seemed like a simple enough task, as I dove deeper into the actor’s oeuvre, I came to realize that Cruise has made more genuinely good movies than not. It’s one thing to have the kind of longevity that Cruise has enjoyed, but the actor’s filmography is consistently solid—even most of the “bad” Tom Cruise films have some sort of redeeming quality.
A couple of notes before we begin: this is a ranking of Tom Cruise films, not performances. As such, the order I’ve laid out here has to do with the film as a whole, not just Cruise’s performance in it. Additionally, I didn’t include 1983’s Losin’ It due to lack of availability, and also left off 1981’s Endless Love given Cruise’s lack of substantial screentime.
So, without further ado, I present to you every Tom Cruise movie ranked from worst to best.