Actor Tom Cruise in a white t-shirt leaning on a car in 'Top Gun: Maverick.'

The 5 best Tom Cruise movies—and the 5 worst, according to data

Written by:
March 28, 2023

The best (and worst) Tom Cruise movies

Tom Cruise arrived in Hollywood with a bang and has been a star—at the box office, in tabloids, on talk shows—from that moment on. While Cruise may not be the best actor of his generation—though performances in acclaimed films like "Magnolia" and "Rain Man" have demonstrated his depth—he is the epitome of a movie star. 

As such, that also means he's inflicted with the movie star curse: Unlike the best character actors, it's nearly impossible for him to disappear into a role (Les Grossman in "Tropic Thunder," perhaps, being the exception). He can play charming or rude, but still make audiences root for him. Some may believe George Clooney is more handsome, Brad Pitt is cooler, or Leonardo DiCaprio is a better actor. And yet, Cruise has been in the game for nearly 40 years and is one of the world's richest actors with a net worth of $600 million

Stacker ranked Cruise's movies best and worst movies according to IMDb rankings. Films with Cruise cameos were not included. There are some bad teen comedies and a handful of over-the-top action roles in Cruise's filmography, but there's genius to be found as well in the three-time Oscar nominee's career. 

Read on to revisit Cruise's classics and perhaps discover a few films you have yet to watch. 

#5 worst: Rock of Ages (2012)

- Director: Adam Shankman
- IMDb user rating: 5.9
- Metascore: 47
- Runtime: 123 minutes

This 2012 film—which is full of 1980s glam-metal superhits, including the cast's version of Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" and a rendition of Guns N' Roses' "Paradise City," by Cruise—tells the story of a small-town girl (Julianne Hough) trying to make it in the L.A. music world. The cast of this jukebox Broadway show adaptation is star-studded; Cruise—who plays fictional rock icon Stacee Jaxx—is joined by Alec Baldwin, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Russell Brand, and Mary J. Blige, to name a few.

#4 worst: All the Right Moves (1983)

- Director: Michael Chapman
- IMDb user rating: 5.9
- Metascore: 62
- Runtime: 91 minutes

In the same year Cruise starred in "Risky Business," he also played a high school football player in hopes of a scholarship in "All the Right Moves." After clashing with his coach, all of Cruise's dreams for his future hang in the balance. This film is based on an article by sports writing legend Pat Jordan.

#3 worst: The Mummy (2017)

- Director: Alex Kurtzman
- IMDb user rating: 5.4
- Metascore: 34
- Runtime: 110 minutes

Critics were not impressed with this reboot—which sees Cruise in the lead role—of the popular 1999 film of the same name starring Brendan Fraser. The New York Times' A.O. Scott called Cruise's version, "an unholy mess," and argued the 2017 film was made for the fans, rather than the critics. However, this new iteration was so disliked, it brought an end to Universal's planned Dark Universe.

#2 worst: Endless Love (1981)

- Director: Franco Zeffirelli
- IMDb user rating: 4.9
- Metascore: 30
- Runtime: 116 minutes

Based on the novel by Scott Spencer, this Brooke Shields film marked Cruise's big-screen debut. The film is particularly sappy, but it's memorable for its theme song of the same name performed by Lionel Richie and Diana Ross, which was nominated for an Academy Award. Rewatching Richie and Ross' Oscars performance is like taking a trip on a time machine back to the early 1980s.

#1 worst: Losin' It (1982)

- Director: Curtis Hanson
- IMDb user rating: 4.9
- Metascore: 51
- Runtime: 100 minutes

One of Cruise's first films was this raunchy comedy about a group of teens who cross the Mexican border into Tijuana to have sex for the first time. This film was first released a year before "Risky Business," so it appears Hollywood wanted to see Cruise lose his virginity in the early 1980s.

#5 best: The Last Samurai (2003)

- Director: Edward Zwick
- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Metascore: 55
- Runtime: 154 minutes

This 19th century epic tells the story of Nathan Algren (Cruise), a Civil War veteran hired by the Japanese emperor to train an army to eliminate the last of the samurai. But after being captured, Algren falls in love with the samurai lifestyle and tradition, and begins to believe in the noble warriors' ways of life. This film seemed created in a lab to win Cruise an Oscar, but he wasn't even nominated for his portrayal of Algren; Japanese actor Ken Watanabe, however, was nominated in Best Supporting Actor for playing samurai leader Katsumoto.

#4 best: Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

- Director: Doug Liman
- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Metascore: 71
- Runtime: 113 minutes

Sometimes films overcomplicate things, but Doug Liman's "Edge of Tomorrow" has trimmed all the fat. This action-packed film follows Major William Cage (Cruise) as he is dropped into a seemingly impossible fight against alien invaders—only to die and have to start over, again and again. With the help of a scene-stealing Emily Blunt, Cruise gets closer to winning each time, in this "Groundhog Day"-meets-"Starship Troopers" action movie masterpiece.

#3 best: Magnolia (1999)

- Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Metascore: 77
- Runtime: 188 minutes

"Magnolia" earned Paul Thomas Anderson a second Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay and helped Cruise score a nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Cruise plays Frank T.J. Mackey in a sprawling tale of one rainy day in LA, which Anderson originally meant to be "something very small, very quick, very intimate."

#2 best: Rain Man (1988)

- Director: Barry Levinson
- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Metascore: 65
- Runtime: 133 minutes

Dustin Hoffman won a Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Raymond Babbitt, an autistic savant brought on a cross country road trip during his brother's bid to grab a piece of their father's fortune. Cruise portrays Charlie Babbitt, the initially arrogant, heartless brother who learns to appreciate the value of family. One New York Times reviewer referred to Charlie as "the film's true central character."

#1 best: Top Gun: Maverick (2022)

- Director: Joseph Kosinski
- IMDb user rating: 8.6
- Metascore: 78
- Runtime: 130 minutes

"Top Gun: Maverick" follows test pilot Captain Pete "Maverick" Mitchell (Cruise) and his return to the U.S. Navy to train new Top Gun recruits. The team has been assigned a daunting mission: to strike a hardened and well-protected nuclear enrichment facility in an unnamed enemy country.

For the film, Cruise personally developed an intensive five-month training program for the actors that resulted in them shooting their own action scenes—from a real F/A-18 Super Hornet jet flown by Navy fighter pilots.

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