Within the vast and ever-evolving landscape of Hollywood, one actor’s name has become synonymous with cinematic excellence and the art of storytelling: Tom Hanks. With a career spanning decades, Hanks has left an indelible mark on the world of film, gracing audiences with his remarkable talent, versatility, and relatability. From heartwarming comedies to gripping dramas, Tom Hanks has delivered unforgettable performances in a wide array of roles. In this journey through the silver screen, we’ll explore the best Tom Hanks movies—those iconic films that have solidified his status as a beloved and enduring figure in the world of cinema.
20. Cast Away (2000)
Our movie star delivers an unforgettable performance as Chuck Noland, a FedEx executive stranded on a deserted island after a plane crash. Hanks’s portrayal is remarkable, carrying the film almost entirely on his own. His commitment to the role earned him widespread acclaim, including an Academy Award nomination. Hanks’s ability to convey Chuck’s isolation, resilience, and ultimate hope is a testament to his extraordinary talent and solidifies “Cast Away” as one of his career-defining performances.
19. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Mr. Hanks excels as Captain John Miller in the movie Saving Private Ryan. His portrayal is powerful, capturing the essence of leadership in the chaos of World War II. Hanks conveys the weight of duty and the sacrifices of war with authenticity. His performance is a testament to his acting prowess and remains a cinematic highlight.
18. Big (1988)
The 1980’s saw Tom Hanks light up the screen as Josh Baskin, a young boy who magically transformed into an adult overnight. With his charm and innocence, Hanks made this classic comedy an absolute delight. His portrayal of an adult navigating a child’s world is heartwarming and hilarious. “Big” stands as a testament to Hanks’s acting prowess and remains a cherished part of his film legacy.
17. Captain Phillips (2013)
As we journey through the finest moments of Tom Hanks’ illustrious career, we arrive at ‘Captain Phillips.’ Here, Hanks delivers another masterful performance, portraying the real-life Captain Richard Phillips. His ability to convey tension and bravery in the face of a harrowing hijacking is nothing short of captivating. It’s performances like these that reaffirm Tom Hanks’ place as one of the industry’s greatest talents. So, from ‘Big’ to ‘Saving Private Ryan’ and now ‘Captain Phillips,’ let’s continue our exploration of Tom Hanks’ best movies.
16. Apollo 13 (1995)
Our best Tom Hanks movies list continues with Apollo 13. Tom Hanks takes on the role of astronaut Jim Lovell in this gripping and fact-based space drama. Directed by Ron Howard, this film tells the harrowing story of the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission. Hanks delivers a stellar performance as he navigates the challenges of space travel and the struggle for survival alongside fellow astronauts played by Kevin Bacon and Bill Paxton. His portrayal captures the resilience and determination of real-life astronaut Jim Lovell, making “Apollo 13” a thrilling and emotionally charged cinematic experience.
15. Catch Me If You Can (2002)
In “Catch Me If You Can,” Tom Hanks shares the screen with Leonardo DiCaprio in a captivating cat-and-mouse chase based on the true story of Frank Abagnale Jr., a masterful con artist. Hanks plays the determined FBI agent Carl Hanratty, who pursues Abagnale across the globe. Hanks brings depth and authenticity to the character, showcasing his versatility as an actor alongside the charismatic DiCaprio. This film is a testament to Hanks’ ability to shine even when sharing the spotlight with another Hollywood heavyweight. The dynamic between Hanks and DiCaprio makes “Catch Me If You Can” an exhilarating and memorable cinematic experience.
14. You’ve Got Mail (1998)
Tom Hanks reteams with Meg Ryan in this heartwarming romantic comedy. Hanks plays Joe Fox, the owner of a large bookstore chain, who unknowingly falls in love with Kathleen Kelly, played by Ryan, a small independent bookstore owner he encounters online. Hanks’ portrayal of Joe is charming, witty, and showcases his natural talent for comedic timing. His on-screen chemistry with Ryan is undeniable, making this film a delightful and enduring love story for the ages. “You’ve Got Mail” is a testament to Hanks’ versatility, as he effortlessly transitions from dramatic roles to romantic comedies, leaving a lasting impact on the genre.
13. A League of Their Own (1992)
Switching gears from space to sports, Tom Hanks displays his versatility by taking the field in “A League of Their Own.” Set against the backdrop of World War II, this film dives into the captivating world of women’s baseball. Hanks portrays Jimmy Dugan, a washed-up ex-baseball player turned reluctant manager of a team of talented but unpolished female athletes. With iconic lines like “There’s no crying in baseball,” Hanks’ performance, alongside a stellar cast including Geena Davis and Madonna, adds enduring charm to this sports classic.
12. Sleepless in Seattle (1993)
Continuing our trek through the best Tom Hanks movies, we arrive at “Sleepless in Seattle.” In this romantic comedy directed by Nora Ephron, Tom Hanks plays Sam Baldwin, a widowed father whose voice on the radio captures the hearts of listeners, including Annie Reed, played by Meg Ryan. Despite minimal on-screen time together, Hanks and Ryan’s chemistry is palpable, culminating in an iconic meeting atop the Empire State Building. Hanks delivers a performance that blends humor and heart, portraying a man seeking love once more after loss. “Sleepless in Seattle” remains a cherished romantic classic in Hanks’ illustrious filmography.
11. News of the World (2020)
As our journey through the best Tom Hanks movies unfolds, we arrive at a more recent gem, “News of the World.” Directed by Paul Greengrass, this Western drama showcases Hanks as Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd, a Civil War veteran who travels from town to town, delivering news to the masses. His life takes an unexpected turn when he encounters a young girl, Johanna, who has been orphaned and raised by Native Americans. Together, they embark on a perilous journey through the unforgiving wilderness of post-Civil War Texas. Hanks’ portrayal is a testament to his versatility, portraying a man of integrity and resilience in a beautifully shot and emotionally resonant film.
10. Road to Perdition (2002)
“Road to Perdition” is an intriguing departure from a typical Tom Hanks role. Directed by Sam Mendes, this crime drama is a visually stunning and emotionally gripping tale of a hitman seeking vengeance while protecting his son. Hanks portrays Michael Sullivan, an enforcer for a 1930s Irish mob in Chicago. When his young son witnesses a violent event, their lives take a treacherous turn as they go on the run from both the law and the mob.
9. Asteroid City (2023)
In “Asteroid City,” Tom Hanks ventures into the realm of science fiction. This thrilling film is set in a future where humanity has established a bustling city on an asteroid, aiming to escape Earth’s dwindling resources. Hanks portrays a resilient astronaut leading a mission to ensure the city’s survival when an unexpected disaster strikes. “Asteroid City” combines Hanks’ remarkable acting with spectacular visual effects, delivering an engaging cinematic experience. It may be one of his newer roles, but it already holds a promising spot among Tom Hanks’ best movies.
8. Toy Story (1995)
“Toy Story” (1995) was a game-changer in cinema, introducing us to computer-animated films. Tom Hanks voiced Woody, a lovable cowboy doll in this imaginative tale of toys coming to life. Directed by John Lasseter, it showcased animation’s potential and delivered a timeless story of friendship. Hanks’ voice acting made Woody endearing to all ages. “Toy Story” became a critical and commercial hit, paving the way for Pixar’s success. Hanks’ role as Woody remains iconic, making this film a must-watch in his career.
7. Charlie Wilson’s War (2007)
“Charlie Wilson’s War” (2007) is a political comedy-drama where Tom Hanks portrays the charismatic Congressman Charlie Wilson. Directed by Mike Nichols, this film goes right at the covert world of Cold War politics. Hanks’ performance shines as he navigates the complex realm of international espionage and geopolitics. His portrayal captures the wit and charm of the real-life Charlie Wilson, making it a standout in Hanks’ filmography.
6. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2019)
“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” (2019) is a heartwarming biographical drama where Tom Hanks steps into the iconic shoes of Fred Rogers, the beloved host of the children’s television show “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” Directed by Marielle Heller, the film explores the genuine kindness and empathy that Fred Rogers embodied. Hanks’ portrayal is nothing short of remarkable as he captures the essence of this beloved figure. His performance radiates warmth and sincerity, making it feel like Fred Rogers has come to life once more.
5. The Post (2017)
“The Post” (2017) is a gripping political thriller directed by Steven Spielberg. In this film, Tom Hanks portrays Ben Bradlee, the executive editor of The Washington Post. Hanks brings his signature gravitas to the role, capturing Bradlee’s determination to publish the Pentagon Papers, a classified government report detailing the United States’ political and military involvement in Vietnam. His performance, alongside Meryl Streep, is a testament to his prowess in bringing historical figures to life.
4. Toy Story 2 (1999)
“Toy Story 2” (1999) is an animated gem where Hanks lends his voice to Woody, the pull-string cowboy doll. In this sequel to the beloved original, Woody embarks on a daring adventure to rescue a fellow toy, and Hanks infuses the character with wit and heart. Next up, our top three best Tom Hanks movies.
3. Forrest Gump (1994)
“Forrest Gump” (1994) stands as one of Tom Hanks’ most iconic roles. Directed by Robert Zemeckis, this heartwarming drama-comedy features Hanks as Forrest Gump, a man with a low IQ who inadvertently influences American history through his simple yet extraordinary life. Hanks’ portrayal is nothing short of exceptional, earning him his second consecutive Academy Award for Best Actor.
2. Philadelphia (1993)
“Philadelphia” (1993) is a powerful drama where Hanks takes on the role of Andrew Beckett, a lawyer who sues his former law firm for discrimination after being diagnosed with AIDS. Hanks’ performance in this film is nothing short of transformative, earning him his first Academy Award for Best Actor. His portrayal is poignant and deeply moving, shedding light on important social issues.
1. The Green Mile (1999)
“The Green Mile” (1999) is another brilliant collaboration between Tom Hanks and director Frank Darabont. Hanks stars as Paul Edgecomb, a prison guard overseeing death row inmates with supernatural abilities. Hanks’ performance is both compassionate and emotionally charged, making this film a poignant exploration of justice, humanity, and redemption.
As the credits roll on our cinematic journey through the best of Tom Hanks, one thing becomes abundantly clear: his ability to captivate and move audiences knows no bounds. Whether he’s portraying an astronaut stranded in space, a lovable animated cowboy, or a real-life hero, Hanks consistently brings authenticity, depth, and humanity to each character. These films, a testament to his unparalleled talent, continue to resonate with audiences of all ages and backgrounds. They remind us that in the world of storytelling, Tom Hanks is not just an actor; he’s a timeless storyteller who has enriched our lives one remarkable performance at a time. So, grab your popcorn, revisit these cinematic gems, and let Tom Hanks remind you why movies have the power to touch our hearts and souls.