This feature originally ran July 2015. We’re returning to it just in time for American Made hitting theaters this weekend.
Top Performances is a recurring feature in which we definitively handpick the very best performances from an iconic actor or actress.
When you look at Tom Cruise clinging to life on the side of an A400 airbus on the posters for Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, it’s not a publicity stunt. It’s a statement on behalf of the then-53-year-old actor’s persistence, his will to live and keep on entertaining. Just look at the last 10 years of Cruise’s career: box-office fizzles, a suspicious personal life made public, awkward televised appearances, and a leaked Scientology video that would kill any other actor (it’s still baffling to listen to Cruise discuss “SPs” with the Mission: Impossible theme strumming in the background … but that’s a whole other article).
No, Cruise is a survivor.
For over 30 years, he’s remained in the Hollywood spotlight, accruing a body of work that many top actors would die for (and Cruise, himself, has certainly come close). He’s worked with modern greats like Stanley Kubrick, Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Paul Thomas Anderson, and the best versions of Brian De Palma, Cameron Crowe, and Oliver Stone. And now, the Mission: Impossible series has merited Cruise a reputation as a modern-day Buster Keaton for daredevil stunts with an insistence on performing them all by himself.
Say what you will about his dramatic range, or his philosophies, but Cruise has curated a mostly excellent career. In honor of his body of work, we’re Cruising past the personal (i.e. no Matt Lauer jokes, no awkward laughs) and taking a choice moment to appreciate strictly Thomas Cruise Mapother IV’s finer film feats. Ahead, you’ll find not only the man’s most memorable roles but his best performances to date, from Aames to Anderton and Mackey to Maguire. Whoa … this mission just got a hell of a lot more “impossibler.” Go for it!
Senior Staff Writer