Spoiler alert – Forrest Gump only came in 10th.
We are shook, as the kids might say.
Oh, and Saving Private Ryan is only good for 12th spot – sheesh, tough crowd.
Tom Hanks is one of the biggest movie stars of the past 30 or so years, and he remains a prolific actor.
The rankings are sorted “via a combination of how good the movie was overall; how good the actor was in the film specifically, and several random consultations” of the writer’s friends.
In other words, it’s not scientific.
In 53rd place is 2004’s The Terminal, but we’re not going to cover the entire list.
Let’s just jump ahead to fifth, which is perhaps an odd pick.
5 – ‘Splash’ (1984)
It’s your run-of-the-mill boy-meets-mermaid love story — only the mermaid is Daryl Hannah…
Once he and Hannah pair up, his inner leading man immediately starts shining through — it’s like a screwball-era Cary Grant and Harold Lloyd had a kid. By the time the pair are rushing through the streets of New York to get his lady love back to the water, he’s no longer the guy who wore a dress at 8pm on Thursday nights. A movie star is born.
4 – ‘Sleepless in Seattle’ (1993)
Hanks had already established his romantic comedy bona fides, but this is where he officially becomes the genre’s sex symbol du jour. He knows exactly how to make Sam sympathetic without being a total sad sack, and how to be lovelorn without seeming louche. May we all find someone who looks at us the way Hanks looks at Ryan when he first sees her in the airport, unaware of who she is.
3 – ‘Sully’ (2016)
In prime silver-fox, stoic-masculinity mode, the star more than shows you Sully’s grace under pressure. But “the human factor” is what matters here — and that’s exactly what the actor brings to the table….
Sullenberger was the right man for the job. So was Hanks.
2 – ‘Big’ (1988)
The ol’ switcheroo comedy — in which a kid and adult change bodies, and both learn some valuable life lessons — was a bona fide subgenre by the time Penny Marshall’s tweaked take hit theaters in the late ’80s…
It garnered Hanks his first Oscar nomination and a whole new legion of fans. It gave moviegoers the sense that he might very well be capable of just about anything.
1 – ‘Apollo 13’ (1995)
“Houston, we have a problem.” Ron Howard’s recounting of the near-disastrous 1970 NASA mission works like a disaster movie: Three men are launched into space. Something goes wrong. This trio of trained pilots, aided by dozens of folks on the ground, work to get themselves home safely…
[Hanks is] the mission leader in more ways than one here. Steady and grounded even when he’s thousands of miles away from Earth, his Jim Lovell is the epitome of cool and calm under pressure (save for the occasional snapping at the suits in HQ)…
And the role lets Hanks demonstrate in full the qualities we’ve come to associate with him IRL: an innate sense of decency, humility, determination, kindness, integrity, and morality. He’s played holy fools, saintly authority figures, all-American heroes and goofballs, elevated everymen and martyrs. Apollo 13 is arguably the one time he’s played someone of note, however, and managed to become iconic in the process.
I’d have a few bones to pick with the order of this list, but there’s no denying that Apollo 13 was a cracking performance.
You can see the full list here.
Oh, and if you like arguing with people about lists like this, you should also see the Guardian ranking the best Oasis tracks in order.
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