Looking over the history of Tom Cruise movies, it's clear that, for the most part, he's had a keen eye toward quality. Sure, there may be a blatant cash grab here and there, but who wouldn't do that? If you had the opportunity to make ten dollars instead of five, it's a no-brainer.

That's what makes it such a cool task to rank his films. There are so many good flicks, and he's been so consistent that even the top five movies would inspire so many arguments. But we're going to rank most of his output here, and we have the advantage of not being wrong. So here is a definitive list of Tom Cruise movies, ranked from worst to best …

Honorable Mention: Tropic Thunder (2008)

Paramount Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 82%

Runtime: 1h 47min

Rating: R

Director: Ben Stiller

While hosting a relatively-brief appearance by Cruise, as studio exec Les Grossman, his work was here so memorably-volcanic that it has to be included. Stiller, Robert Downey, Jr., Jack Black, and various other comedic knuckleheads act in what starts as a war movie shoot but then turns into something much more real. Still, Cruise as a Harvey Weinstein parody and RDJ in Blackface kind of rubs the wrong way, even in satire.

Cocktail (1988)

Touchstone Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 7%

Runtime: 1h 44min

Rating: R

Director: Roger Donaldson

It seems like a formula that should work: Tom Cruise, Elisabeth Shue, and a bunch of people flipping gin rickey ingredients in the air. Cruise stars as Brian Flanagan, a hotshot bartender who slings drinks in Jamaica while trying to decide who to fall in love with. Despite hitting all the hot zones of Cruisemania in the '80s, this one didn't fare as well as his other hits.

Far And Away (1992)

Imagine Entertainment

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 50%

Runtime: 2h 20min

Rating: PG-13

Director: Ron Howard

Capitalizing on the dubious chemistry between Cruise and Nicole Kidman, Ron Howard tried his hand at an honest-to-goodness epic about Irish Tom Cruise traveling with his lady friend (Kidman) to Boston in the late 1800s. The Tomatometer may say 50%, but tell us all the memorable scenes you recall from this movie that don't involve how bad his fake accent is. Go on; we'll wait.

Losin' It (1983)

Tijuana Productions

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 18%

Runtime: 1h 40min

Rating: R

Director: Curtis Hanson

Early Tom Cruise was directed in this film by Curtis Hanson, who would later do such fine work as L.A. Confidential and Wonder Boys. This wasn't quite up to that level yet. Cruise and some pals (including young, thirsty Rorschach from the Watchmen movie) drive down to Tijuana with Shelley Long, and they live it up south of the border. Innuendo galore. 

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The Mummy (2017)

Universal Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 16%

Runtime: 1h 50min

Rating: PG-13

Director: Alex Kurtzman

This is probably the movie that started the "we miss Brendan Fraser terribly" movement. Which is sad because Tom Cruise running is already amazing, so Tom Cruise running from Egyptian demons should be easy box office gold. Somehow the fun got lost, and this was just Mission: Impossible with a desert tinge of franchise desperation. 

Legend (1985)

Universal Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 38%

Runtime: 1h 34min

Rating: PG

Director: Ridley Scott

Hey! Wanna see Tom Cruise galavant around with a unicorn? No one else in 1985 did, either, and this was the year everyone went bananas about Michael J. Fox turning into a dunking werewolf, so don't come at us with that. Here, Cruise tried to fend off the Lord of Darkness with Ferris Bueller's girlfriend. Also, Tim Curry is in it. 

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (2016)

Paramount Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 38%

Runtime: 1h 58min

Rating: PG-13

Director: Edward Zwick

There's a huge governmental conspiracy going on, and paperback superhero and former MP Jack Reacher (Cruise) must unveil the wrongdoing, all while trying to clear his own name, which is Jack Reacher. Never go back, and moviegoers did not.

Rock Of Ages (2012)

Warner Bros. Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 43%

Runtime: 2h 3min

Rating: PG-13

Director: Adam Shankman

Tom Cruise rocks out as Stacee Jaxx in a music-centered romp written by Justin Theroux. It tries to be a hair metal version of Footloose, with the Sunset Strip serving as the setting, instead of a barn or wherever they're not supposed to dance in that movie. 

Mission: Impossible 2 (2000)

Paramount Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 57%

Runtime: 2h 3min

Rating: PG-13

Director: John Woo

Yeah, we said it. It's not great. You can throw all the fluttering doves you want into a slo-mo gunfight, but it's not going to make for a compelling story. Team lead Ethan Hunt (Cruise) is tasked with stopping a former agent from unleashing a deadly new disease. Apparently, it was called "tryingtooharditis."

Lions For Lambs (2007)

20th Century Studios

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 27%

Runtime: 1h 32min

Rating: R

Director: Robert Redford

You ever look at a great lineup of bands at a festival, and then each band subsequently goes on boring monologues instead of playing music? That's kind of what happened here, in a tale of two Army soldiers hurt in Afghanistan and how it unfolded with congressmen, journalists, and college professors. It's exactly, one thousand percent, unequivocally as boring as it sounds.

All The Right Moves (1983)

20th Century Studios

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 61%

Runtime: 1h 31min

Rating: R

Director: Michael Chapman

"I want this Cruise kid to be a gritty product of a podunk steel mill town, who has a gift for football that can get him out of there. Oh, and he should be Serbian-American." Okay, whatever, it kind of works. His coach tries to stymie any progress he could make in the sport, but Cruise flashes that winning grin enough to get himself a scholarship and future leading man roles.

Valkyrie (2008)

20th Century Studios

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 62%

Runtime: 2h 1min

Rating: PG-13

Director: Bryan Singer

Y'know who looks exactly like a German army officer? Tom Cruise! As Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, he joins up with a rogue faction of Nazis who are convinced that Adolf Hitler is acting super Hitlery, and they decided to come up with an assassination plot. And boy, they almost did it, with a suitcase explosive nearly taking out the Nazi leader. The story is better than the movie

Oblivion (2013)

Universal Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 53%

Runtime: 2h 4min

Rating: PG-13

Director: Joseph Kosinski

Here, Cruise depicts the amazing life of a drone repairman on an Earth that has been waging war with aliens for some time. He's trying to get out of there for good but finds a survivor near a crashed alien craft. He's then captured by people who turn out to be humans, and together they all forget this movie was ever made.

Knight And Day (2010)

20th Century Studios

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 52%

Runtime: 1h 49min

Rating: PG-13

Director: James Mangold

It's pure popcorn fun, but Cruise has better kernels in his filmography (see what we did there?). Roy Miller is a secret agent on the run from the Feds and gets mixed up with Cameron Diaz, a restorer of classic automobiles. Together, they work to clear his name, which is something Tom has to do an awful lot in his movies. 

The Last Samurai (2003)

Warner Bros. 

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 66%

Runtime: 2h 34min

Rating: R

Director: Edward Zwick

Remember, we aren't necessarily ranking these by the raters of tomatoes, but rather a mix of the quality of Cruise's overall work, and if they kinda maybe suck a little bit. Teaming up with director Edward Zwick (Jack Reacher Never gonna rewatch Go Back) again, Cruise plays Captain Nathan Algren, a military man hired by Japan to train their military because we all know white people save inner-city schools and foreign armies. 

Taps (1981)

20th Century Studios

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 68%

Runtime: 2h 6min

Rating: PG

Director: Harold Becker

Tom Cruise's first major role in a film was this early '80s fare, concerning a group of military cadets at an academy that is facing closure. They decide to take matters into their own hands and take over the campus. Cruise did fine, but he hadn't completely learned how to commandeer the screen just yet. That would change very shortly.

The Outsiders (1983)

Warner Bros.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 63%

Runtime: 1h 31min

Rating: PG

Director: Francis Ford Coppola

Picture every teenage girl's bedroom wall in the 1980s. Now shove all those brooding hunks into one movie made by the director of The Godfather and Apocalypse Now, and you've got a recipe for a little bit of success. Granted, this film launched so many young white males into your lives, but the tale of two rival gangs is like West Side Story told by an old man who is completely enamored by his own storytelling. Cruise holds his own, and Rob Lowe plays a guy called Sodapop Curtis, so that's awesome. 

Vanilla Sky (2001)

Paramount Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 42%

Runtime: 2h 16min

Rating: R

Director: Cameron Crowe

It starts off with a great Radiohead song …

… then crumbles and dissolves into something that looks amazing but feels threadbare. Cruise plays a rich publisher who gets into a car accident and is forced to deal with his own vanity. Reteaming with director Cameron Crowe after Jerry Maguire, there are also some sci-fi and mystery elements, but Cruise hasn't figured out how to consistently make the audience see past his narcissism. 

Days Of Thunder (1990)

Paramount Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 38%

Runtime: 1h 47min

Rating: PG-13

Director: Tony Scott

This one is actually better than its tomato rating. Cruise had already conquered jet fighters; let's put him on the ground in something fast! Robert Duvall plays his surly crew chief, and director Tony Scott is another person tasked with making that Tom Cruise/Nicole Kidman partnership work on the screen. It doesn't, but the races are fantastic, and Cruise's name is Cole Trickle, so bonus point there.

Interview With The Vampire (1993)

Warner Bros.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 64%

Runtime: 2h 3min

Rating: R

Director: Neil Jordan

Let's take the two hottest movie stars in Hollywood at the time and make them pale blood drinkers. That shouldn't work, but it kinda did. Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt play Lestat and Louis, respectively, two vampires who have a 300-year-old past and are eager to share their stories with a modern-day reporter. The two vamps also raise a little girl as a vampire of their own, making it a goofy My Two Dads romp.

American Made (2017)

Universal Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 86%

Runtime: 1h 55min

Rating: R

Director: Doug Liman

You might see the score granted to this movie and wonder why it's located as such on this list. That speaks more to the classic movies and roles that Cruise has had than the quality of this film, which is pretty good. Here, he plays pilot Barry Seal who, with the help of the CIA, runs drugs from Central America to the U.S. in the '80s, giving birth to the Iran-Contra scandal and the Medellin cartel in the process. What a proud parent!

Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

Warner Bros.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 76%

Runtime: 2h 39min

Rating: R

Director: Stanley Kubrick

There's something so beautiful about watching this movie, but you can't help but feel slightly unfulfilled, much like Cruise's wife in the film, played by Nicole Kidman. And yes, even Kubrick cannot find a way to make us care about these two people together. Kidman plays a wife who gets high and talks a lot. She confesses to feeling sexual attraction for a stranger, leading husband Cruise to wander out for a night, ending up at a bizarre masked orgy party. It's all over the place. But so weirdly watchable!

Jack Reacher (2012)

Paramount Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 63%

Runtime: 2h 10min

Rating: PG-13

Director: Christopher McQuarrie

Despite Jack Reacher being a massive hulk of a man in the books, diminutive Tom Cruise charms his way into the role. He plays Jack Reacher, a former military police officer and erstwhile drifter who comes to investigate a rash of sniper shootings in Pittsburgh. It's a fine popcorn beat-em-up with an incredibly random casting of Werner Herzog as the villain if you're into that sort of thing.

Top Gun (1986)

Paramount Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 58%

Runtime: 1h 50min

Rating: PG

Director: Tony Scott

You feel that this should be higher. It spawned so much: Cruise's leap to megastardom, the American obsession with shouting "Talk to me, Goose!" and Val Kilmer's devious lip-curl. But at its core, it's about a whiny brat with daddy issues who has access to too many fast vehicles. But the action scenes are great, and the volleyball is even better.

Edge Of Tomorrow (2014)

Warner Bros.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91%

Runtime: 1h 53min

Rating: PG-13

Director: Doug Liman

This dude has got to start showing signs of aging at some point, or we are going to have to start asking some uncomfortable questions. This one pits Cruise as Cage in a kind of Groundday Day scenario, if Phil Connors was instead fighting aliens every day. Each time Cruise dies while killing some extraterrestrial baddies, his day starts over. Not with "I Got You, Babe" on the alarm clock, but with alien "Mimics" in his face. 

The Color Of Money (1986)

Buena Vista Distribution

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 89%

Runtime: 1h 59min

Rating: R

Director: Martin Scorsese

If Tom Cruise had made a film about him being good at lawn darts at this time, it would have made a quarter of a billion dollars and saved the economy of a small country. This one was about him being good at pool. Martin Scorsese directs the newly-minted star Cruise as a kid named Vincent who gets trained by an old billiard hustler played by Paul Newman, who himself played a young pool protege in 1961's The Hustler. The soundtrack, always a strength of Scorsese's, is great, and you can smell the cue chalk and cheap beer wafting off the screen.

 

A Few Good Men (1992)

Columbia Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 83%

Runtime: 2h 18min

Rating: R

Director: Rob Reiner

This is a good film, no doubt about it, but it's one of those cases where the infamous moments that happen are better than the overall product. "You can't handle the truth!" is etched in our minds forever, but it's still just a pretty good court drama. Cruise and Jack Nicholson facing off is still holds up, though.

War Of The Worlds (2005)

DreamWorks Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 75%

Runtime: 1h 56min

Rating: PG-13

Director: Steven Spielberg

The setup is great: what would a semi-absentee father of two kids actually go through if alien tripods came out of the ground in New Jersey? The effects are stunning, and the sound of these things vibrates the gonads. But then Cruise keeps trying to reach his son emotionally, and a crazed Tim Robbins ambles into the movie halfway through, and things … don't stay as great.

Mission: Impossible III (2006)

Paramount Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 71%

Runtime: 2h 6min

Rating: PG-13

Director: J.J. Abrams

The installment that brought the franchise back after the severely lackluster part two, Mission: Impossible III made the series fun again, burying emotions down low in the stomach, where they're supposed to be. Cruise again reprises Ethan Hunt, who has to take down an arms dealer, played brilliantly by Philip Seymour Hoffman, who's chewing up enough scenery to fill three sound stages. This laid the groundwork for the franchise's stellar sequels. 

Risky Business (1983)

Warner Bros.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%

Runtime: 1h 39min

Rating: R

Director: Paul Brickman

It's where the meteor landed. Tom Cruise won over every single person that saw this film, in which he plays a bored teenager who gets into all sorts of trouble when his parents leave town. No, not the kind of trouble that involves dancing in tighty whities to Bob Seger. More the kind that involves sex workers, an angry pimp, and parents' Porsches sinking into Lake Michigan.

Mission: Impossible--Fallout (2018)

Paramount Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%

Runtime: 2h 37min

Rating: PG-13

Director: Christopher McQuarrie

These later Mission: Impossibles are going to be hard to rank, as they're so loaded with memorable setpieces and good ole action fun. They have taken over James Bond as the best spy franchise by far. This one has Ethan Hunt battling a secret group called the Apostles, who want to nuke several holy sites around the world. The plot almost doesn't even matter, as fun as this film is. Bonus: The most expensive mustache problem in cinema history.

Rain Man (1988)

United Artists

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 89%

Runtime: 2h 13min

Rating: R

Director: Barry Levinson

Even as a douche, Tom Cruise wins you over in one of his first roles that's truly dramatic. Here, he embarks on a road trip with his brother Raymond (played by Dustin Hoffman), who is autistic, under the guise of building a bond. But Cruise's character really wants a taste of that sweet inheritance their father left to only his brother. Together they actually do become closer and try to scam a Vegas casino using Raymond's ability to expertly recall things.

Minority Report (2002)

20th Century Studios

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%

Runtime: 2h 25min

Rating: PG-13

Director: Steven Spielberg

The first Spielberg film for Tom Cruise saw him as John Anderton, which is every bit as bad a last name now as it was then. Anderton (ugh) runs the Precrime unit for the future police. There, they have people that can predict crimes before they happen. It's great until John's name pops up. He has to, you guessed it, CLEAR HIS (STUPID) NAME.

The Firm (1993)

Paramount Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 75%

Runtime: 2h 34min

Rating: R

Director: Sydney Pollack

Mitch McDeere (Cruise) is graduating from Harvard Law and is looking for a job. He finds one in Tennessee, moving there with his wife, with $$ in their eyes at the money they'll be raking in. McDeere soon discovers that the firm's clients are less than savory, and he's quickly involved with the mob and murder. The FBI comes calling, and in CLEARING HIS (LESS STUPID) NAME, he smartly flips the script on his sinister employers.

Mission: Impossible--Rogue Nation(2015)

Paramount Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94%

Runtime: 2h 11min

Rating: PG-13

Director: Christopher McQuarrie

Another stellar, front-to-back delight for the eyes and ears, this sequel deals with Ethan and his team finding themselves without a home. Their organization is disbanded and disavowed, and with them out of the game, the sinister Syndicate begins to gain power. The underwater sequence alone is enough to make your sphincter pucker with tension. Simon Pegg is terrific as usual.

Jerry Maguire (1996)

Sony Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 84%

Runtime: 2h 19min

Rating: R

Director: Cameron Crowe

This movie really does encapsulate why Tom Cruise is kinda the best at what he does. He oozes pure magnetism. You want to see what he's going to say. When he's excited, so are you. Jerry Maguire is a very successful sports agent who decided he wants more out of life but is fired for it. One athlete sticks by him, and with him, Jerry learns all the lessons he had been missing out on, like, you know, loving people and caring about people.

Born On The Fourth Of July (1989)

Universal Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 85%

Runtime: 2h 25min

Rating: R

Director: Oliver Stone

You gotta admit, Cruise is not afraid to take some risks or work with different styles of directors. This film tells the story of Ron Kovic, a Marine who becomes paralyzed in Vietnam, then falls off the rails before becoming a heroic story for other castaway veterans. Oliver Stone actually finds a way to inject some emotion into the story, something the usually-bristly director isn't exactly known for.

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Mission: Impossible—Ghost Protocol (2011)

Paramount Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93%

Runtime: 2h 12min

Rating: PG-13

Director: Brad Bird

It's pretty well-known that Cruise likes to do his own stunts. But to climb the side of the tallest building in the world in Dubai is something else entirely. Hunt and his team are blamed for a terrorist attack, and they have to do something in the way of clearing their names? Yeah, that's it. It's fun, it's terrifying, and Brad Bird of Pixar movie fame is firing on all cylinders here.

Collateral (2004)

DreamWorks Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 86%

Runtime: 2h

Rating: R

Director: Michael Mann

Max is a cab driver who's squirreling money away for a bigger dream. One night, a hitman named Vincent gets in his taxi, then orders him to drive around while he assassinates various targets. Cruise pulls off menace without reason, and yet still somehow he has heart, leaving you kind of rooting for him and Jamie Foxx to figure things out without killing each other. Michael Mann directs Cruise and Jamie Foxx expertly and lets the two actors inhabit the characters.

Mission: Impossible (1996)

Paramount Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 66%

Runtime: 1h 50min

Rating: PG-13

Director: Brian De Palma

This is where the series started, and although it's morphed throughout the years into more of an "Ethan Hunt is a superhero" slant (kind of like how they did John McClane), the basics are here: super neato spy gadgets, tense heist scenes, elaborate disguises, and Ving Rhames' roast beefy baritone. The tomato meter makes zero sense here.

Magnolia (1999)

New Line Cinema

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 83%

Runtime: 3h 8min

Rating: R

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson

There's no question here. It's epic, and though Cruise is part of a terrific ensemble cast, he steals every single scene and is the literal heart of the movie. As Frank T.J. Mackey, he plays a self-help guru who is full of braggadocio, but when he finds out that his father is near death, his confidence crumbles, and he has to face his own demons. Oh yeah, there's also a rain of frogs, and everyone sings an Aimee Mann song together.

Top Image: Paramount Pictures

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