Total Recall: Tom Hanks' Best Movies

We count down the best-reviewed work of the Cloud Atlas star.

Tom Hanks

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 Wachowski-engineered spectacle Cloud Atlas, arriving in theaters this weekend, we decided now was the perfect time to take another look at an impressive body of work by twirling the dials on the Tomatometer, making a list of Hanks' best-reviewed films, and playing Total Recall!


90%

10. 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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92%

9. Splash

Starring in a frothy romantic comedy as a man who falls in love with a mermaid may not seem like the surest path to starting a film career, but then, 1984's Splash was no ordinary movie -- in fact, it started a lot of things, among them an entire studio (Touchstone Pictures, created to allow Disney the ability to release more "adult" fare without sullying its name brand), a surge in the number of girls named Madison, and, supposedly, a name change for the Disneyland ride that eventually became Splash Mountain. Not bad for a movie featuring a pair of largely untested stars (Hanks was fresh from Bosom Buddies, and Hannah was known mainly for her role in Blade Runner) and a director most people still thought of as Opie Taylor (or Richie Cunningham). Nearly $70 million in domestic receipts (and one Academy Award nomination) later, and Hanks was on his way to stardom, thanks in part to positive critical buzz that has proven surprisingly durable; recently, Empire's Ian Freer held it up as "the movie that really showed Tom Hanks' promise as a deliverer of great comedy and heart-warming pathos."


93%

8. That Thing You Do!

Some moviegoers who went to see That Thing You Do! expecting another "Tom Hanks movie" may have come away disappointed with his relative lack of screen time -- his character, the slick A&R executive known as Mr. White, is the textbook definition of a "minor but pivotal" role -- but if they paid attention to the credits, they saw that it had Hanks literally written all over it: he made his writing/directing debut with That Thing, which follows the speedy rise (and equally speedy fall) of a rock band in 1966. Though it wasn't a huge hit, the movie did spin off a medium-sized hit on the pop charts ("That Thing You Do," written by Fountains of Wayne's Adam Schlesinger and sung by future power pop demigod Mike Viola) and enjoyed highly favorable reviews from the likes of Desson Thomson of the Washington Post, who wrote, "first-time writer/director Tom Hanks stays about a half-beat ahead of the clichés with rim shots of boyish enthusiasm and deft comedy."

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92%

7. Saving Private Ryan

American directors have been making movies about World War II since 1940, and even as early as the 1980s, it was a genre associated by many with Norman Rockwell revisionism and John Wayne machismo. By 1998, for a movie about the war to add anything new to the dialogue, it would have to be something truly special -- but with Spielberg behind the cameras and a cast led by Tom Hanks, an actor as quintessentially American as apple pie, Saving Private Ryan was off to a pretty good start even before the first roll of film had been shot. The end result, of course, was one of the best-reviewed films (and biggest hits) of the year -- a $481 million hit that arrived perfectly timed to coincide with a new wave of interest in what Tom Brokaw dubbed "The Greatest Generation." Lauded for its sometimes shocking realism, Ryan was eventually nominated for 11 Academy Awards, and helped prompt Hanks' involvement (along with Spielberg and many others) in HBO's 10-part World War II documentary, Band of Brothers -- an important film, in other words, and one that, despite a few dissenting opinions (Andrew Sarris called it "tediously manipulative"), earned a healthy Tomatometer score thanks to plenty of high praise from critics like Richard Schickel of Time, who applauded it as "a war film that, entirely aware of its genre's conventions, transcends them as it transcends the simplistic moralities that inform its predecessors, to take the high, morally haunting ground."

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97%

6. Big

There were a number of age-swapping comedies at the box office in the late 1980s, including Vice Versa (starring Judge Reinhold and Fred Savage as a father and son who switch bodies), 18 Again! (in which George Burns plays an 81-year-old millionaire who trades souls with Charlie Schlatter), and Like Father Like Son (Dudley Moore and Kirk Cameron -- 'nuff said). Big, released in June of 1988, came after all of them, but rather than being dismissed as excessively similar to a bunch of movies that hadn't done all that well at the box office, it went down as one of the year's most successful films, piling up over $150 million in worldwide grosses and earning Hanks some desperately needed box office mojo after his appearances in The Money Pit, Nothing in Common, and (shudder) Dragnet. Though it would be awhile yet before Hanks really found his stride as a leading man -- he still had Joe Versus the Volcano ahead of him, after all -- his sweetly comic performance here did not go unnoticed by critics like the New York Times' Janet Maslin, who wrote, "for any other full-grown actors who try their hands at fidgeting, squirming, throwing water balloons and wolfing down food in a huge variety of comically disgusting ways, this really is the performance to beat."

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Comments

Andrew Milito

Andrew Milito

Amazing how his lowest ranked movie doesn't even dip under 90%. One of the best actors of all time. It's a shame he hasn't had any memorable roles in a few years.

Oct 24 - 04:39 PM

Dave J

Dave J

It's just 10 of his best reviewed movies out of how many he's done! I find that although I liked some of his films all I needed to do is see them once!

Oct 24 - 05:14 PM

Chris Card

Chris Card

I can't believe Forrest Gump only has 71%. What's the deal, critics?

Oct 24 - 04:44 PM

Andrew I.

Andrew Imrie

It's not a great movie is the deal. It certainly fit into middle-America's view of God and country, but it was shamefully dismissive and even hostile towards any counter-culture elements that occurred during the 60s and 70s.

Oct 24 - 08:56 PM

infernaldude

Infernal Dude

Maybe many of the counter culture movements were total busts. Drugs ruined a lot of the message and soured the cause(s).

Oct 24 - 11:49 PM

Will Bigelow

Will Bigelow

@Andrew Imrie: You are completely correct. It is a pretty good movie, but in no way a great one.

Oct 30 - 11:14 AM

Bertram Krogh

Bertram Krogh

Iâ??m with you. Forrest Gump is a masterpiece. With one of the best male performances I have ever seen. Fantastic film.

Oct 24 - 10:43 PM

Derek Williams

Derek Williams

Definitely my favorite movie of all time.

Oct 25 - 01:11 AM

Adam Binyon

Adam Binyon

Forrest DUMP more like, A nasty piece of rightwing rubbish

Oct 25 - 03:21 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Put a shirt on, hippie!

Oct 25 - 06:37 PM

CyborgUnicorn

Cyborg Unicorn

lol he shook hands with JFK and exposed Watergate.. and look at you two! "right wing rubbish?" "Put a shirt on, hippie?" it's friggin' forrest gump!

Oct 25 - 10:42 PM

Daniel Frohm

Daniel Frohm

For real, Unicorn. Right wing brainwashing? He's a mentally challenged man stumbling through the shaky moral grounds of the Vietnam War, to which social battlegrounds he's oblivious to. It's just a wonderful story, and it's told wonderfully as well.

Maybe perhaps, the brainwashed one is you, Adam.

Oct 29 - 03:39 PM

Marcus Jahn

Marcus Jahn

If anything it's one of the only non-biased films based on the era. Forrest Gump thought of life too simply and beautifully to examine life without the distraction of left and right wing politics. It invites the audience to do the same.

Nov 23 - 11:30 AM

Peter W.

Peter Winters

Agreed. Its a masterpiece.

Oct 25 - 08:56 AM

Ed Green

Ed Green

It is a travesy that Gump is not in the top 10, how about Hanks brilliant drunken manager in "A league of their own"

Oct 26 - 08:10 AM

Allyson Bede

Allyson Bede

I agree. I thought Forrest Gump was generally recognized as one of the greatest films. It surprises me that critics scored it low. I thought it was highly praised at the time and still highly praised now. At any rate, I think it's one of the best films out there. It has something for everyone in it.

Oct 26 - 07:35 PM

Ethan Sam

Ethan Sam

You have to remember that RT wasn't well established when Forrest Gump came out and many of the reviews have been written in retrospect. The truth of the matter is the critics gushed over that film. That's why it won 6 Oscars, most notably Best Director and Best Actor - Hanks.

If you don't respect that it was one of the most iconic, defining movies of the 90's, you're smoking the same stuff they did in the 60's and 70's

Oct 28 - 07:28 PM

Gavin B.

Gavin Bollard

Where's Bachelor Party? Just kidding.

Oct 24 - 04:46 PM

Ed O'leary

Ed O'leary

I thought it was funny too

Oct 24 - 09:09 PM

Dave J

Dave J

It's just 10 of his best reviewed movies out of how many he's done! I find that although I liked some of his films all I needed to do is see them once!

Oct 24 - 05:14 PM

Anthony DePierro

Anthony DePierro

It is so stupid for Rotten Tomatoes to do a "Total Recall" and include animated voice work. C'Mon guys, add 3 real performances to the list. I'm not saying that voice work is easy, I'm just trying to exert that the Toy Story trilogy's success has very little to do with the actor who voiced Woody.

Oct 24 - 05:21 PM

ap sirius

karl anderson

I agree... they leave off his 2 Oscar winners, Philidelphia and Forrest Gump

Oct 24 - 06:23 PM

Brad H.

Brad Hadfield

Agree. The 3 Toy Story movies eliminate both his Oscar-winning performances. Most actors can't claim one, let alone TWO, and neither appear here because of those cartoons. Even if they'd included them as 1 entry (the "Toy Story" trilogy) they would've had room for Forrest Gump and Philadelphia. But 3 separate entries? STUPID.

Oct 25 - 07:58 AM

Olivia Bennett Holmes

Olivia Bennett Holmes

I agree Mr Hadfield.

Oct 26 - 04:27 PM

Dave J

Dave J

Uhh.... Hanks may have done voice acting but I'm sure his salary was as high as he got from the other films! I might have agreed with you if you said small appearances but his first starring voice acting work is just as relevent as the films he stars in because if Pixar got some other nobody that sounded like Hanks to voice Woody (just to cut costs)- would you still have seen it!

Oct 25 - 12:41 PM

ap sirius

karl anderson

probably.... I didnt go see it because it was Tom Hanks doing the voice. Doesnt mean he wasnt great in it, but it wasnt the reason for seeing it.

Oct 26 - 08:23 PM

Dave J

Dave J

Then you're one of few who would, but they're others who won't see them since as I recall, when the "sequels" of Disney's Aladdin animation films came out, one of the complaints I've read time and time again was solely because Robin Williams voice of the genie was absent from them nor they did a very good job of it even though I thought this unknown person still did a very good job because I still thought the movies were overall entertaining!

Oct 30 - 11:51 AM

Steven Lavender

Steven Lavender

think of it this way. After Shrek, Eddie Murphy went on to do Dr. Doolittle 2, Showtime, The Adventures of Pluto Nash, I Spy, The Haunted Mansion, Daddy Daycare, then Shrek 2. Animated Films are more likely to have higher box offices and higher critical praise. Shrek should count as part of his body of work, but not as a defining role.

Oct 27 - 02:36 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

And this is why Eddie Murphy is such a respected figure today. Totally not a definition of a wash-out or anything.

Oct 28 - 11:01 PM

Dave J

Dave J

Eddie Murphy's role in voicing the donkey is just as relevent as the other films he stars in because his 'salary' was still substantially as high as he got when he starred in those other films. Look at it from 2 points of view, if the company Dreamworks decided not to pay Myers, Diaz and Murphy 20 0r 25 milllion dollar hefty salaries and just used some other nobody who sounds just like them instead then that would also mean less promotion to the product in question since everybody has heard of them, the company cannot do this if they hired a bunch of nobodys. The second point is that if it is paid work they can also include the Shrek films as part of their resumes because the movie industry itself are fully aware that they have made a substantial alot of money meaning if a bunch of nobody's were hired to do the voice work on those same animation films then they wouldn't have performed just as well! One last point, if animation films are not relevent then then why are animation films are also mixed in with other top 100 films of all time- a film is still just a film!

Oct 29 - 12:59 PM

David Gaillardetz

David Gaillardetz

You do realize the way they chose this list was based entirely off of percentage for RT scores, right? It is entirely objective and not based on opinion. No one chose the films. It is just based on percentage.

Oct 27 - 07:20 PM

Daniela Zaragoza

Daniela Zaragoza

where's Forrest Gump?!!

Oct 24 - 05:28 PM

Saetre

Saetre Saetre

It's got a 71% rating and it's not even certified fresh. Critics seem to be divided on that one.

Oct 25 - 11:44 PM

Eric I.

Eric Irvan

Uhm, where did you go to school? 71% IS certified fresh, lol, and by 11% no less. A film on this site is certified fresh as long as it touches 60%.

Oct 27 - 08:18 PM

Ricardo Leal

Ricardo Leal

Where did *you* go to school? Because that statement is false.

Oct 28 - 06:28 PM

Steven S.

Steven Scott

Tom is such a great actor, I hope he keeps it up!

Oct 24 - 05:35 PM

Marlon Baran

Marlon Baran

Thais interesting, his top three films are all one trilogy. I wonder what they are?

Oct 24 - 05:58 PM

L Richard Aguirre

L Richard Aguirre

where is forrest gump?

Oct 24 - 06:22 PM

ap sirius

karl anderson

I agree... they leave off his 2 Oscar winners, Philidelphia and Forrest Gump

Oct 24 - 06:23 PM

G_man

Galen Mountfort

Kind of predictable that everyone would be whining "where's Forrest Gump?" On 71% people and therefore doesn't make the cut. I agree that Animated shouldn't count, that would make the next 3 Road to Perdition, A League of their own (both 82%) and Charlie Wilson's War (81%).

Oct 24 - 06:30 PM

Valmordas

Val Mordas

Road to Perdition I found to be pretty good, if you haven't seen it check it out.

Oct 24 - 07:27 PM

Valmordas

Val Mordas

P.s. The RT users list is more accurate.

Oct 24 - 07:28 PM

Saetre

Saetre Saetre

I agree.

Oct 25 - 11:44 PM

Valmordas

Val Mordas

P.s. The RT users list is more accurate.

Oct 24 - 07:28 PM

Saetre

Saetre Saetre

I agree.

Oct 25 - 11:44 PM

Zane B

Chum Chum

Glad there is no Forrest Gump, this is a list of his BEST movies after all

Oct 24 - 07:28 PM

Vince Vaughn not really

Glenn Vaughn

Forrest Gump 0/10

Oct 25 - 11:22 AM

Zane B

Chum Chum

Haha yep pedantic garbage

Oct 25 - 09:14 PM

Jason Velykis

Jason Velykis

THE TWO FILMS HE WON OSCARS FOR AREN'T EVEN ON HERE? DISGRACE.

Oct 24 - 07:34 PM

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