Monday Morning Quarterback Part III

By BOP Staff

August 6, 2015

Tom, what have you programmed that robot to do?

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Kim Hollis: Everybody has a favorite movie star. Who is your favorite and how do your favorite five Tom Cruise films compare in quality to those of your favorite performer? To a larger point, is there a living movie star with a better overall body of work than Cruise? If yes, who and why?

Jason Barney: I love the question, because it acknowledges just how major a star Cruise was (is) and gives him credit for still being bankable. The only other two that I would really put up there would be Harrison Ford and Tom Hanks. Ford is older and Hanks has taken a step back from his mega stardom, but there are few performers who have really achieved what those guys have. Maybe Depp could be on that list.

Ryan Kyle: This question really goes to show that Cruise is one of a kind. His blockbusters are consistently entertaining with no real complete duds. I agree with Tom Hanks and Harrison Ford and I think Johnny Depp deserves to have his name on the list, although his quality is very all over the place. Meryl Streep and Denzel Washington are also very consistent in their returns on money and quality, although I would not consider their films in the same "Summer Blockbuster" league that Cruise is in.

I think Matt Damon, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Christian Bale, and Ben Affleck can also be added to the list of performers with a multi-decade career with a long filmography of hits in terms of commercial and critical. I'm sure Cruise's career would be a bit more spotty box office wise if he took riskier roles more often like Brad Pitt and Christian Bale instead of his bread-and-butter action fare (outside of Lions for Lambs, he hasn't gone outside of the box much), but why not be an action hero for a few more years while there is gas left in the tank before retiring to roles that will stretch his craft?


Edwin Davies: Tom Hanks is probably my favorite, if only for his work on the sublime Toy Story films, but Cruise feels like a really separate entity from pretty much every name that's been mentioned. Not only was he a huge draw for a long stretch of time, he also maintained a pretty consistent level of quality in the projects he chose, and he almost certainly elevated some of the odder choices he made through the sheer power of his stardom. It's hard to imagine anyone else getting Vanilla Sky or Collateral to $100 million.

Will Smith is the only star who gets close, and his success was over a shorter period of time, and his hits tended to be focused in fewer genres that Cruise's.

Ben Gruchow: Favorite five Tom Cruise films, from most recent to oldest, are: Edge of Tomorrow, Collateral, Minority Report, Magnolia, and the first Mission: Impossible. That fifth-place spot has a number of Cruise entries that are jostling for it, though, and M:I only barely edges them out.

Cruise possesses the ability to elevate whatever he's in, and there are several actors/actresses that possess the same ability in my book; the only two that I can think of who elevate the material to such a degree by being in it are Tom Hanks and Angelina Jolie. Angelina Jolie is someone I think actually stands out more for her humanitarian work and contributions than for her filmography, although I usually like-to-love her work films. And Tom Hanks has a tendency more to meet each role on precisely the level it deserves (whether that role is above or below the rest of the material). Cruise, though...looking at his filmography, he's made lesser films, but not one that I can see where he's phoning it in. He gives his all to performances, even if the movie itself is misguided, and I'd argue that his instincts haven't led him to produce a movie that's outright bad yet.

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