Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Top 5 Movie Guide: Tom Cruise

With this weekend's release of "Jack Reacher", we decided to focus the latest Top 5 Movie Guide around its star, Tom Cruise. Cruise didn't grow up thinking he wanted to be an actor. In fact, very spiritual as a child, he was enrolled in seminary school by age 14 with dreams of becoming a priest. This dream stuck with him until fate changed that late in his high school career. A strong member of his high school wrestling team, after suffering a knee injury which forced him to sit out the entire season, he took up drama to fill his time. He almost instantly fell in love, and after high school abandoned his religious aspirations and headed to New York City to try his hand at an acting career.


Things worked out even better than the young Cruise could have imagined. Cruise's mixture of charisma and compassion made him an instant success, and within five years of starting his career, he'd already landed lead roles in films like "Top Gun" (1986), "The Color of Money" (1986), "Rain Man" (1988), and "Born on the Fourth of July (1989). By 1990, Cruise was one of the highest-paid actors in the industry, earning upwards of $15MM per picture for films such as "Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles", "Minority Report", "Jerry Maguire", and each of the Mission: Impossible films.

While personal and religious aspects of Cruise's life have become the center of many tabloid headlines over recent years, the actor continues to bring people into the theaters. Since his first $100MM grosser, "Top Gun" more than 25-years ago, only six of the films in which he's appeared in have failed to reach that mark.

He's been nominated for three Academy Awards, but has never been lucky enough to win one. It seems probable that the actor will have plenty of chances down the road to eventually bring one home, but until then, he'll just have to settle with being one of the most successful, powerful, esteemed filmmakers in Hollywood.

Hit the jump to see which titles topped our lists!

Alex Schopp -
Of the 40 or so films in which Tom Cruise has starred in, only a small few of them have recorded a score below 60% on Rotten Tomatoes. Somehow or another, I managed to work two of them onto this list... Also, I'd really love to point out some of the titles like "Magnolia", "Tropic Thunder" and "Rock of Ages" where Cruise stole the show, but unfortunately, his small performances weren't enough to get these films onto this list.

     1. Minority Report (2002)

I really didn't think this would be #1, but the blend of action and sci-fi resonates well with me here. Plus, Steven Spielberg's direction in this is amazing; the imagination and innovation behind this film still stands out a decade later. Also, it's kind of nice to see a film in here that doesn't get overpowered by a love story (in the romantic sense, at least).
     2. Jerry Maguire (1996)
I'm not a very big Renée Zellweger fan, and I think had another actress landed this role I might have liked it even more. But nonetheless, it's a solid flick about sports, honor, and compassion. Always easy to watch.
     3. Vanilla Sky (2001)
I've always loved this movie. It's a fascinating, surreal story that I think builds pretty nicely. Cruise, as usual, gives a solid performance, but I think I owe my love for Penelope Cruz to this film. This was probably the first notable thing I ever saw her in. It only aided in my hatred for Cameron Diaz, however.
     4. Valkyrie (2008)
I don't think this film ever got the respect it deserved. Cruise was great in this role, and boy do I love conspiracy theory movies. Plus, the imagery is phenomenal in the film.
     5. Cocktail (1988)
I don't know what happened, but somehow or another I grew up watching this movie, and I've just loved the idea of him going off and becoming an awesome bartender/opening his own place. I know this movie shouldn't be on this list, but I just can't help it. It makes it even harder knowing all of the awesome titles I had to leave off because of it. I'm content at least in knowing that no one else will have this title, and thus we're just adding one more to the mix for this post that is Tom Cruise's amazing filmography.

Ben Foutch -
This list was harder than I anticipated. Aside from the nostalgia tied to many films in his filmography, most of them are highly watchable. Say what you want about the man, but he makes fun movies.

     1. Risky Business (1983)

     2. Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles (1994)

     3. Minority Report (2002)

     4. Top Gun (1986)

     5. Vanilla Sky (2001)



Derek Clem -

     1. Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles (1994)

In my eyes this was Oscar-worthy acting by Tom Cruise.
     2. Minority Report (2002)
I had no real expectations when going to see this in the theater back in the day. Needless to say, it blew me away. Top notch sci-fi work from Mr. Cruise. He should work with Spielberg more often.
     3. War of the Worlds (2005)
I liked this movie when I first saw it in theaters, but when I rewatched it a few years back I fell in love with it.
     4. Legend (1985)
Nice blend of creepy and majestic tones.
     5. Far And Away (1992)
This was my textbook on how The Oklahoma Sooners got their name.

Nathan Hinds -
I feel like Tom Cruise has gotten to a point were he's a very under appreciated leading man. Has the whole Scientology thing really made people forget how awesome this guy is? There were definitely several films I was upset I had to leave off.

     1. Minority Report (2002)
I'm a little surprised that this turned out to be my #1 film. It's completely worthy of it, but I feel like this movie was forgotten for a long time. I think people have recently begun to realize how great this movie is.
     2. Mission: Impossible II (2000)
You've gotta include one of the films from the Mission: Impossible franchise. Not too many people would choose this as their favorite, but I guess I just have a thing for movies that are considered the worst in the series - that just means other people are wrong about these films.
     3. Jerry Maguire (1996)
I really considered having this #1. It's such a great dramedy. The added sports element is a great bonus.
     4. The Last Samurai (2003)
I love a good movie where a bunch of dudes line up across from each other, then run at each other and try to kill one another.
     5. A Few Good Men (1992)
I had about seven movies fighting for the last two spots. I ultimately went with the two I had seen the most to break the tie. Plus with this movie, you get one of the most famous lines in cinematic history.

Andy Schopp -

     1. Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles (1994)
This might be the best vampire movie ever made. Scratch that. This IS the best vampire movie ever. Well, either this or "The Vampire's Assistant" (it's called a joke, people!).
     2. The Last Samurai (2003)
Amazing film about redemption and honor. So G.D. good!
     3. Minority Report (2002)
This sci-fi masterpiece keeps you on your toes 99.9% of the time. The other 0.01% of the time is when you are covering your eyes from the surgery scene.
     4. Top Gun (1986)
It wouldn't feel right to make a Tom Cruise list without this film.
     5. Vanilla Sky (2001)
I like this movie a lot. If it didn't have such a low watchability rate, it would definitely be higher on my list. Amazing concept and design though.

There we have it, folks. Another week with another strong array of films. Fifteen different titles were presented above, with seven receiving at least two picks. No doubt the overall level of quality is quite high here, and we knew to expect a wide variety of selections with an actor such as Tom Cruise. Still, as is usually the case, a few titles stood out above the rest. "Minority Report", which received two top picks, was the only film to appear on all five lists. This Spielberg-Cruise team-up is one of the better sci-fi flicks over the past decade or so, at least, and it easily stands as one of the most recognizable, well-crafted, time-tested films of Cruise's stellar career. This didn't have monstrous box office gains when it initially hit theaters (only $130MM total domestic), so there is definitely a chance that many people passed this one up ten years ago and it's managed to evade them all these years since. If that's the case, go back for a refresher course; you'll be glad you did.

While no film hit on four lists, two did appear on three in "Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles" and "Vanilla Sky". Two very different films here, but both have something to offer. It's hard to place "Vanilla Sky" in any type of genre other than thriller, but it's a fascinating watch if you never saw it. And as for Interview, if you're looking for a good vampire flick, you can't go wrong with this one.

Otherwise, "Jerry Maguire", "Top Gun", and "The Last Samurai" were the only other films receiving multiple picks this week, each with two. Again, all solid titles that offer something very different. One constant among all of them though: Tom Cruise's focused performances. It seems like you can't ever go wrong when he's attached to a film.

As always, we hope that each of these selections helps you to expand your knowledge and appreciation of some of the best films that this Tom Cruise has provided over the years, and guides you to better and more enjoyable all-around viewing experiences.

Happy watching!