One of this generation’s most celebrated actors has a new movie out this weekend, so let’s take a look back at the 20 best films of Tom Hanks’ career!
20. Turner & Hooch
The ultimate “man and his dog” movie, Turner & Hooch is better than it should be considering the premise. It’ll make you chuckle, and probably make you shed a tear before the end.
19. That Thing You Do!
Hanks’ directorial debut is an enjoyable light-hearted story of a band that finds success in the 1960s. It’s just about as “period” as it could be, celebrating the decade and giving audiences a delightful title song as well.
18. Sleepless in Seattle
Probably the paradigmatic romantic comedy, Sleepless in Seattle surely inspired many young single men to call into radio shows in the hope of igniting the love of a beautiful woman across the country.
17. The Simpsons Movie
Hanks appears very briefly as himself in the big-screen debut of everyone’s favorite animated family. The film doesn’t quite have the charm of some of the best seasons of the show, but it’s still an enjoyable romp with some of pop culture’s most enduring characters.
16. Charlie Wilson’s War
A solid if unspectacular political tale about the Texas congressman who worked around the US government to aid Afghani rebels against the Soviets, indirectly contributing to building the radical Islamic forces that would later target America. Performances by Hanks and Oscar-nominated Philip Seymour Hoffman elevate the film.
15. A League of Their Own
Most movies about World War II choose to focus on the fight going on in Europe, but A League of Their Own shows how the conflict affected America’s pastime on our own shores. Hanks is wonderful as the manager of an all-female baseball team, while the film is a testament to how enjoyable sports movies can be.
The movie that really started Hanks’ big-screen career, Splash is a whimsical film that uses its fantastical premise – Daryl Hannah plays a mermaid, after all – to put it above other romantic comedies of the ‘80s.
Big is Hanks at his most endearing. Playing a kid in an adult’s body suits him well – he earned his first Oscar nomination for the role – and he does it at the center of a delightfully light and funny film.
12. Road to Perdition
One of the most unheralded graphic novel adaptations is also one of the best. Director Sam Mendes crafts an intense and engaging mob drama with Hanks at the center as a father trying to protect his son from the same people he once worked for and trusted.
11. Catch Me If You Can
Steven Spielberg’s direction and performances by Hanks and Leonardo DiCaprio make Catch Me If You Can a highly entertaining based-on-a-true-story about the manhunt for con man Frank Abagnale, Jr. DiCaprio is his usual charismatic self and Hanks instills FBI agent Carl Hanratty with both an unwavering desire to catch Abagnale and an almost father-like affection for the young man he’s pursuing.
10. Captain Phillips
It’s been a while since Hanks has been in a movie (at least a live-action one) as well received as this past weekend’s Captain Phillips. He’s getting a lot of early Oscar buzz for his performance as the captain of the cargo vessel hijacked by Somali pirates four years ago, and the film itself is tense and undeniably thrilling, especially with the knowledge that it is based on real events.
9. Cast Away
The movie that spawned possibly the most recognizable soccer ball in movie history shows Hanks at his best as he’s tasked with carrying the bulk of this two-hour desert-island film on his own. Hanks’ commitment to the role by losing 50 pounds serves to bring the harrowing experience home.
A poignant story about discrimination, Philadelphia brought Hanks his first Best Actor Oscar for his role as a man fired from his law firm because he has AIDS. Hanks deserved every accolade he received for his performance, and the movie earns praise for increasing AIDS awareness.
7. The Green Mile
The story of a man on death row with an incredible gift is one of the most powerful films of the ‘90s (in the same conversation as Frank Darabont’s other Stephen King adaptation, The Shawshank Redemption). Hanks is solid as always, but it’s Michael Clarke Duncan who steals the show here.
6. Toy Story 3
The final chapter in a trilogy is probably the hardest one to do right, but Toy Story 3 is everything you’d want in a conclusion – for now – of a beloved franchise. The film addresses what happens when Andy finally grows up and moves away, and gives the toys a send-off that may bring tears to your eyes.
5. Apollo 13
Gravity has shown audiences why they should fear the unlimited vastness of space, but twenty years ago Apollo 13 went the opposite direction and let us know just how claustrophobic space could be. Ron Howard brought the doomed Apollo mission to life beautifully, and gave us the iconic phrase, “Houston, we have a problem.”
4. Toy Story
Toy Story is the film that put Pixar on the map and started a trend of quality animation that is still going today. Woody and Buzz were solidified as two of Disney’s most memorable characters, and little did we know their adventures were just beginning.
3. Toy Story 2
In my opinion – and many others’ – the second Toy Story installment is the best of the series. It builds on the camaraderie of Andy’s toys and raises the stakes with new toys and bigger set pieces, and goes even further to show just how resourceful the gang can be in the outside world.
2. Forrest Gump
Hanks has probably never been better than as the slow but eminently hopeful title character in Robert Zemeckis’ sprawling tale of 20th century American history. Forrest Gump is present during events that have defined our country, and for many people this is the movie that defines Tom Hanks’ career.
1. Saving Private Ryan
Arguably the best war movie of all time is also the best film Hanks has done in his storied career. By now it’s pretty much old hat to say it, but Steven Spielberg creates a no-frills hyper-realistic World War II film that sets the standard.