Tom Hanks’ 10 best movies ranked –

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Tom Hanks turns 65 today. As an actor, writer, director and producer, the 2-time Oscar-winner’s films have made nearly $10 billion worldwide.
To wish the film icon a happy birthday, we’ll share our 10 favorite films of his.
We’ll cover plenty of the hits you know and love, but also include some lesser celebrated titles that deserve the love. Read our picks (and honorable mentions) below:
We feel obligated to include at least one of Hanks’ ventures into the romantic comedy genre, particularly one with frequent co-star Meg Ryan. We’ll opt for their 1993 effort, where he plays a recently widowed man whose son calls a radio talk-show in an attempt to find his father a partner, while Ryan plays a recently engaged journalist who obsesses over meeting him. A smash hit, making nearly $230 million worldwide, it further proved Hanks’ likability and bankability as a world class movie star who can simply do it all. Simply put, if you spot it on cable or Netflix, there’s a good chance you’re watching it on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Toss in “Splash,” “The Money Pit,” “Joe Versus the Volcano” and “You’ve Got Mail” for other satisfying rom-com options.
Paul Greengrass tells the true and harrowing story of Captain Richard Phillips and the 2009 hijacking by Somali pirates of the US-flagged MV Maersk Alabama, the first American cargo ship to be hijacked in two hundred years. Again, even nearly 20 years after “Apollo 13,” nobody embodied leadership on screen like Hanks did. You need an actor both the audience and the story’s characters will trust to no end, and he once again displayed this in what many consider an all-time great performance. Sporting a thick Winchester, Mass., accent, Hanks storms through his own fear and anxiety to protect his crew and simply make it out alive, before it all comes pouring out in one scene at the end that will leave you speechless.
Already a 2-time Oscar-winner by 1995, Hanks’ star power knew no bounds, even in outer space in Ron Howard’s depiction of NASA’s historic efforts to return astronauts on Apollo 13 to Earth safely after the spacecraft underwent massive internal damage putting the lives of the three men on board in jeopardy. At the peak of his likability, Hanks epitomized on-screen leadership, staying poised in the face of extreme adversity while hiding his disappointment in failing to realize his dream of walking on the moon. In a competitive year, Hanks didn’t secure an Oscar nomination, perhaps because his workmanlike effort refused to call too much attention to itself in Howard’s earnest ensemble adventure.
You had to double-take to realize Hanks hadn’t yet worked with director Steven Spielberg, but they made a perfect pairing for one of the best war movies ever made. He played United States Army Rangers Captain John H. Miller, the leader of a squad in search of a paratrooper who is the last-surviving brother of four servicemen, whose mysterious past keeps his men guessing and following in the midst of total chaos. The brilliance of Hanks’ work here rests in his eyes, completely world-weary and devoid of everything he left back home in the states, including his happiness, all in the name of carrying out his mission so he can reclaim it someday.
Remember when the Academy nominated Tom Hanks for all those Oscars? They seem to have given up on that even when he turns in career-best work in films like “Captain Phillips” or 2015′s “Bridge of Spies,” which I consider a borderline top five performance for him. That may sound hyperbolic, but as someone who actually saw Steven Spielberg’s Cold War thriller, I can confirm this is as Tom Hanks a Tom Hanks role as you’ll ever see. One of Hollywood’s greatest movie stars symbolizing all the best parts of our American values, bringing as much integrity and natural screen presence as ever, puts Hanks on this list.
At the time of its release, Robert Zemeckis’ literal desert island film felt like the crowning achievement of Hanks’ already-storied career. A 2.5-hour acting showcase for a guy we thought had done it all up to that point. As a FedEx executive who must transform himself physically and emotionally to survive a crash landing on a deserted island, Hanks dominated the screen and carried a big studio movie squarely on his back like very few could. He plays a man who clings to hope and who relies on uncertainty as it relates to mortality and his personal relationships to survive a grueling mental and physical test. Honestly, with whom would you rather spend that much time other than Hanks? The guy acted his heart out opposite a volleyball, for goodness sake.
We love every “Toy Story” films, so we’ll cheat and pick the whole franchise. If pressed, we’ll stick with the original, in which he plays a boy’s beloved toy cowboy doll Woody who feuds with the suped-up space ranger action figure Buzz Lightyear. With his unmistakable voice, Hanks helped to popularize celebrity voice acting, with Hollywood too often forgetting that it takes a special actor like him to convey subtlety and emotion in a cartoon character. In collaboration with the outstanding animators at Pixar, Hanks breathed life into arguably the company’s most memorable character for three straight films and taught us new things about loyalty and nostalgia in one heartbreaking and poignant scene after another.
After comedies like “Splash” and “The Money Pit” established Hanks as a charming leading man in fun but slight stories, Penny Marshall’s fantasy transitioned him into full-on movie star mode. He earned his first Oscar nomination playing a young boy who makes a wish “to be big” and is then aged to adulthood overnight. Few had the charisma to pull of Hanks’ lovable man-child whose granted wish sends him into the treacherous streets of 1980s New York as a would-be adult. In fact, his first night in the big city, after he rents a room in a flop house, you see some of Hanks’ best work as a scared kid who doesn’t know what to do in a world he never knew was so big.
For better or worse, the one we’ll all likely remember him by. I only say “worse” because film fans seem to find it trendy to trash this Robert Zemeckis’ epic about a slow-witted but kind-hearted Alabama man who witnesses, and in some cases influences, some of the defining events of the latter half of the 20th century in the U.S. But we’ll ignore that negativity and celebrate this as the American classic it is, marking yet another role that only Hanks could have ever played, teaching us the value of human decency, specifically how we treat others. Hanks won his second Oscar for best actor, as the film also won best picture and made a ton of money. We still love it.
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Penny Marshall re-teamed with Hanks for this delightful depiction of the first female professional baseball league set against the backdrop of World War II. Hanks plays Jimmy Dugan, a former marquee MLB slugger who initially treats the whole thing as a joke, insisting “girls” can’t possibly be real ballplayers, as he’s hired to manage the Rockford Peaches. Maybe it’s a controversial top pick here, but it’s admittedly my personal all-time favorite Hanks performance. While not as big a showcase as “Gump” or “Cast Away,” it shows his tremendous range, trading comedic barbs with Rosie O’Donnell and dramatic heft with Geena Davis through subtle physical movement to line deliveries no one could replicate as the alcoholic manager.
Honorable Mentions: Splash (1984), Bachelor Party (1984), The Money Pit (1986), Philadelphia (1993), That Thing You Do! (1996), You’ve Got Mail (1998), The Green Mile (1999), The Ladykillers (2002), The Terminal (2004), Sully (2016), A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2019)
More Top 10 lists:
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 10 best movies ranked
Tom Cruise’s 10 best movies
Charlize Theron’s 10 best movies ranked
John Wayne’s 10 best movies ranked
Clint Eastwood’s 10 best movies ranked
Meryl Streep’s 10 best movies ranked
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