Total Recall: Tom Hanks' Best Movies

We run down the best-reviewed work of the Oscar winner and Angels & Demons star.

by Jeff Giles | Thursday, May. 14 2009

Co-starring in a short-lived sitcom about cross-dressing friends generally isn't the most direct path to superstardom, but there's an exception to prove every rule -- only one, though; sorry, Peter Scolari -- and after racking up over $3 billion in domestic ticket receipts, winning a mantel full of awards (including back-to-back Best Actor Oscars), and starring in some of the best-reviewed films of the last 25 years, Tom Hanks has demonstrated that he's pretty darned exceptional. With his latest project, the Da Vinci Code sequel Angels & Demons, arriving in theaters this weekend, we decided now was the perfect time to pay tribute to an impressive body of work by twirling the dials on the Tomatometer, making a list of Hanks' best-reviewed films, and playing Total Recall!

These lists are almost always greeted with cries of "I can't believe you left off [title of film]!" and Hanks' Total Recall is bound to be no different -- with a list of films that includes some of the most audience and critic-friendly releases of the '80s, '90s, and '00s, some fairly heavy hitters were bound to miss the top 10. Which of your favorites didn't make the list? To find out, join us as we relive the brightest critical highlights of a distinguished career -- then visit Hanks' complete filmography to read up on the rest!


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10. A League of Their Own

In the years immediately following Big, Hanks endured a period of professional disappointments, starring in a string of turkeys that included The 'Burbs, The Bonfire of the Vanities, and the dreaded Joe Versus the Volcano; his biggest hit during this period was 1989's Turner & Hooch, which hit paydirt at the box office despite generally lackluster reviews. By 1992, you wouldn't have been out of line to suggest that Hanks needed a comeback vehicle -- and he got it with A League of Their Own, the Penny Marshall-directed dramedy about the short-lived All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. Playing the supporting role of team manager Jimmy Dugan, Hanks is free to leave the heavy lifting to his co-stars -- a list that included Geena Davis, Rosie O'Donnell, Lori Petty, and Madonna -- and, during a dugout rant about the mutual exclusivity of crying and baseball, scores the film's most memorable line. A huge hit at the box office, League was embraced less warmly by critics, many of whom tempered their generally positive reviews with words like "lightweight" and "watchable" -- although Netflix's James Rocchi was one who saw deeper value in the film, praising it as "a well-performed, snappily written and well-intentioned piece of entertainment that, surprisingly, has some historical information and a gently pitched line of social commentary running through the comedy."


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9. Cast Away

If there was ever any doubt as to the strength of Tom Hanks' appeal, it was thoroughly answered with 2000's Cast Away, a movie that asked viewers to spend over an hour watching its star wander an island with little to do and only a volleyball for companionship. He didn't just topline it, Hanks essentially was the film, absorbing a percentage of screen time that, in lesser hands, would have amounted to an endurance test for audiences. Happily, he proved up to the task, as attested by Cast Away's healthy $429 million worldwide gross -- not to mention the scores of overwhelmingly positive reviews from critics like Margaret A. McGurk of the Cincinnati Enquirer, who praised Hanks for rising to the challenges of the script: "The challenge to the character is matched by the challenge to the actor; for most of the movie Mr. Hanks is the only human being we see or hear. He tackles the job with stunning confidence in a performance stripped of gimmicks and driven by need."

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