One of the more difficult Top 10 lists we at Movie Fanatic have ever had to compile has to be our latest that explores the best of Tom Hanks. The national treasure has such variety in his filmography, from comedies and dramas and… oh yeah, there are those two Best Actor Oscars he has at home.
Just in time for his most ambitious film to date, Cloud Atlas, we matched that ambition and scope and scoured over the superstar’s career and we're proud to present our Top 10 Movies of Tom Hanks. And by the way, since it’s not out yet, we didn’t put Cloud Atlas on the list, but as you’ll see from our review (publishing October 26), next time out… it will be number one!
10. Joe Versus the Volcano
Take me to the volcano, indeed! The superstar’s first pairing with frequent co-star Meg Ryan is the quirkiest and most charming of movies. Some give Joe Versus the Volcano a bad rap, but we at Movie Fanatic think it is ingenious and wildly inventive.
9. Apollo 13
Houston, there is no problem at all when it comes to Ron Howard’s bringing the fateful mission of Apollo 13 to life. Hanks, longtime space junkie, achieved his dream of playing an astronaut and brought the soul of what those modern day adventurers go through… all in the name of science and furthering the human race.
8. Sleepless in Seattle
One of the most charming movies of all time, Sleepless in Seattle marked Hanks' first collaboration with Nora Ephron and his second film with Ryan. It is impossible to escape the brilliant barrage of Sleepless in Seattle quotes and rightfully so. In Hanks and Ryan’s hands, Ephron’s words come to life with humor and heart.
7. Toy Story
The film that firmly put Pixar on the map also triumphed because of its casting of Hanks and Tim Allen in the leads. Can you imagine anyone else portraying Woody or Buzz Lightyear? The film’s two sequels may have reached more and more audiences respectively, but we will never forget the first time the magic of the Toy Story world came to life.
Proof of Hanks' range beyond his comic background is all over this list. One of the first to show off his comedic and dramatic talents was 1988’s Big. Hanks portrayed a young man who makes a wish that he would be older and bam… he is suddenly. The wonder and awe of a young boy, coupled with the uncomfortable feeling of living in one’s skin that most of us feel as adults, and Big is one of the most joyous of films that captures the imagination of both young and old(er).
5. The Green Mile
Hanks and a stellar cast brought Stephen King’s words to life in a movie that was not only rewarded with a Best Picture nomination, but the adulation of the millions who witnessed its magic. The Green Mile showed another side of Hanks as a death row guard whose encounter with a mystical prisoner (Michael Clarke Duncan) is the stuff of movie legend.
Hanks won his second Oscar (in a row!) for his portrayal of an AIDS stricken Philadelphia lawyer. When he is subsequently fired, Hanks’ character launches a lawsuit against his former firm, led by his ace in the hole… the always awesome Denzel Washington. Philadelphia is important for many reasons, not the least of which is how it humanized the AIDS crisis and brought the epidemic’s cost to millions who marveled at another Hanks powder keg of a performance.
3. Forrest Gump
There is no question Forrest Gump quotes dominate the movie quoting landscape. But, the winner of a slew of Oscars -- including Best Picture -- is oft discounted because of its microcosm capturing of the baby boomers' time driving American history and pop culture. The Robert Zemeckis film, we believe, still stands the test of time, spawns deep societal questions and inevitably causes tears to pour every time we witness the scene where Gump says goodbye to his beloved Jenny.
2. Saving Private Ryan
Saving Private Ryan is not only one of Steven Spielberg’s best, it's also one of Hanks’ as well. The story of a selfless captain who drives his regiment deep into enemy territory to rescue and bring home the titular character paints a picture of World War II unlike any audiences had ever seen. The sacrifice of what Tom Brokaw calls “The Greatest Generation” has never been more pristinely captured.
1. Cast Away
When Hanks first took the role in Cast Away of a Fed Ex executive who survives a plane crash and spends years alone on a deserted island, it had the Oscar winner thinking, “Will anyone want to watch just me for two hours?” The answer was an unequivocal yes as proof of the power of Hanks’ talent and our unequaled adoration for what he does. No one but him could have pulled off the solo panorama of blinding solitude, crushing depression and the driving spirit of the human race to stay alive at all costs in one visit to the cinema.
Honorary mentions: A League of Their Own, Turner & Hooch, You’ve Got Mail, The Man with One Red Shoe, Nothing in Common, That Thing You Do!, Catch Me If You Can.