20 Best movies of Tom Hanks

The actor, writer, producer and director has several movies under his belt that qualify him to be one of the best actors Hollywood has ever produced. The gem of an actor is the highest all-time box office star; his films earning more than $8.2 billion worldwide. An actor who so convincingly portrays another character or human, that he is obviously a director’s best choice. Several awards including an Oscar have glorified his talent and this is just but a small tribute to him as the first star we feature in this list. 


1. Big 1988

Tom Hank’s first BIG success movie after a series of rough starts he had in his career. The movie went on to become the most successful age-changing comedy series movies of the 80’s and inspired many similar movies from then on. Tom Hanks plays the character of the 30 year old Josh Baskin who was a 12 year old until the previous day when we visits a carnival and wishes near an antique fortune telling machine to turn him into an adult. A series of comic incidents follow this incident and the movie is about the struggles Josh has to put up with until he reverts to 12 year old by the end of the movie.

A funny, charming and sweet movie, Tom Hanks delivered a great performance that got him nominated for an academy award along with many others.




2. A league of their own 1992

In 2012, A League of Their Own was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant"

The film stars Tom Hanks, Geena Davis, Lori Petty, Madonna, and Rosie O'Donnell.

It is an American comedy-drama film that tells a fictionalized account of the real-life All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL).

The movie goes into flashback about a group of girls and their fraught to form a baseball league of their own. They journey through patches before finally succeeding in surprising everyone, entering the World Series and defeating their strong opponents. This movie does not offer much for Tom Hanks to perform at his best, but the movie in itself is a definite see.



3. Sleepless in Seattle 1993

A romantic drama, this film features Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan and the story is inspired by the 1957 classic, “An affair to remember.”

The movie goes with award winning screenplay and music while having great performances from Tom and Meg. It is a story of a widower Sam Baldwin, who moves to Seattle with his young son Jonah and attempts to starts a fresh life in an attempt to recover from the grieving loss of his wife but does not succeed. His son wants him to get a life partner and in that attempt calls into a live talk show. He persuades Sam to talk about how much he misses his wife and is being heard by hundreds of women across the country and moved by his life story write to Sam. A reporter Annie portrayed by Meg Ryan, follows a similar path of writing to him and asking him to meet her atop Empire State building, but does not post that letter. Instead, her friend does that for her. The rest of the story is about how they get to meet each other. Great performances by both and a very touching representation makes this movie a worth watch.


4. Philadelphia 1993

This movie is one of the first Hollywood films to acknowledge sensitive and unaccepted subjects of that time like HIV/AIDS, homosexuality and homophobia. Tom Hanks gets his first academy award as the best actor for his role as the homosexual and AIDS affected law firm employee. The movie in a subtle plot covers aspects of discrimination and homophobia along with misconceptions about AIDS. Denzel Washington in a challenging role as a lawyer plays Joe Miller who is homophobic but slowly transforms and clears his misinterpretations about AIDS and the patients affected.

The plot is about a homophobic law firm employee who is dismissed by the company’s employers on account of his diagnosis with AIDS. Though the pretext for his dismissal is faked as lack of professional abilities and non-compliance, Andrew Beckett played by Tom Hanks soon understands the true intent.

The rest of the story is about his fight against discrimination and how he finally succumbs to his disease. Tom Hanks performs at his usual best and is aptly supported by an amazing star cast. A must watch film.


5. Forrest Gump 1994

A film beyond imagination and Tom Hanks through this movie established himself as one of the best actors Hollywood has ever produced.

The Library of Congress selected Forrest Gump for preservation in the United States National Film Registry as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

Apart from being critically acclaimed, the film won Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor for Tom Hanks, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Visual Effects and Best Film Editing along with multiple other awards.
The adaptation from Winston Groom’s novel by the same name, Forrest Gump is not just a great adaptation, but also a well crafted movie with impressive visual effects. This heartwarming and sensitive story runs around a dim-witted, naïve and handicapped young boy who incidentally realizes that he is no longer handicapped but instead, athletically exceptionally talented. He later becomes a part of some defining events of the latter half of the 20th century in US. His life story and how he unites with his ill girl friend forms the rest of the story.  The movie is a must watch especially for the great performance of Tom Hanks.


6. Apollo 13 - 1995

One of the best rated movies of Tom Hanks, this movie stands apart from the rest of his movies in being a space oriented film. This movie was inspired by the true incidents circling the Apollo 13, a manned mission intended to land on the moon, which was called off on the 3rd day post its launch into the orbit due to an explosion of the oxygen tank. Ron Howard went to great lengths to create a technically accurate movie, employing NASA's technical assistance in astronaut and flight controller training for his cast, and even obtaining permission to film scenes aboard a reduced gravity aircraft for realistic depiction of the "weightlessness" experienced by the astronauts in space. Tom Hanks also performed brilliantly and the movie was nominated in nine categories at the Oscars.




7. Saving Private Ryan – 1998

The epic-war film has the central plot about saving the last surviving brother (Matt Damon) of four servicemen. Set during the invasion of Normandy in World War 2, the team which has to accomplish the task is led by Tom Hanks who plays the army rangers captain. Great graphics, brilliant portrayal of characters and the realistic war picturization won the movie several laurels along with Steven Spielberg’s second academy award as a director. Tom Hanks gave an incredible performance as the captain.






8. You’ve got mail – 1998

This same year saw Tom Hanks in two diverse roles, once again proving that he is one of the most versatile actors Hollywood has ever seen. You’ve got mail shows the other side of his acting abilities, the perceptive, poignant and pleasant side. Meg Ryan competes brilliantly and together, they run the show taking along the audience into a smooth internet world. Adapted from a book and previous movie versions, this love ride is a beautifully crafted movie that touches heart strings of everyone.






9. The Green Mile – 1999

The supernatural drama is set up in a death row prison and Tom Hanks plays the character of the corrections officer (aka prison supervisor, jailor etc…). A thrilling drama which runs as flashback and portrays the association of the prison supervisor with one of the death sentenced convict who has psychic super natural abilities. Watch it for the award winning performances of Tom Hanks and Michael Clarke Duncan who plays the prisoner with abnormal capabilities.






10. Cast Away – 2000

Nominated again for the Oscars, Tom Hanks plays the role of a stranded lonely survivor on an uninhabited island, after his plane crashes in the pacific. His struggle to utilize the plane’s cargo that washed aside and manage his survival is something that can only be viewed on cinema. He gained weight to play the middle aged FedEx agent and then gained a beard and hair, simultaneously losing all the weight he gained previously to realistically look like he is stranded on an island. Very little can be written here. It is Tom Hanks for most part of the viewing time and you won’t be bored.






11. Road to Perdition- 2002

The crime thriller directed by Sam Mendes is another award winning movie, with the story of a hit-man and his son who avenge their family’s death in the hands of a gangster. The academy award winner for its cinematography, Tom Hanks does a tremendous job as the Hitman who has very little talking in the movie. Tom Hanks is one of the very few actors of modern cinema who can convince the audience with nothing to speak but just his expressions. This movie is just right for him. A slow movie but a must watch.






12. Catch me if you can – 2002

The biographical crime drama directed by Steven Spielberg is based on Frank Abagnale, the famous fraudster who, before reaching twenty, committed crimes and successfully forged checks worth millions of dollars by posing as a Pan American World airways’ pilot, a doctor and a prosecutor. Leonardo Di Caprio plays the role of Frank while Tom Hanks plays the role of Carl Hanratty who hunts down the criminal. In the all intelligent crime thriller, mind games between the two and the cat & mouse chases are terrific to watch. As stunningly thrilling as they seem, the movie is still slick, smooth and light hearted. It is not as heavy as other Steven Spielberg’s movies and is a fun ride with intelligent plots and humorous outcomes.





13. The Terminal - 2004

This comedy drama is one more Tom Hanks all the way movie. Directed by Spielberg again, Tom Hanks is a citizen of a fictional country called Krakozhian, who is trapped in JFK airport terminal since his passport is invalid owing a civil war in his country. So, he is neither allowed to get into the country, nor allowed to leave to his country. As non-English speaking citizen of another country, Tom Hanks plays a brilliant role which won innumerable accolades. Tremendously supported by the other cast, this movie stalls you at the airport for a long time.






14. The Polar Express – 2004 6 different roles. Motion capture animation.

This is an animated motion capture film based on a book by the same name. The reason for this movie being in the list is not just that this movie is a tremendous one, but the motion capture of most characters in the film are played by Tom Hanks. He plays the hero-boy, the train conductor, the hobo, Santa Claus and finally the narrator. Tom Hanks gives a mesmerizing performance in a movie that leaves tinkling bells in you, especially if you understand the concept of Christmas and Santa Claus.






15. The Da vinci code – 2006

The mystery thriller based on Dan Brown’s book by the same name has Tom Hanks play the role of Robert Langdon, a professor of religious iconography and symbology from Harvard University. The story runs around identifying a secret code revealed in a Leonardo da vinci’s painting that leads to further codes leading to the whereabouts of the legendary Holy Grail. What follows are a series of thrilling events, unfolding mysteries and several teams on similar pursuit. Tom Hanks once does a great job in convincing the audience of his portrayal as the professor. A mystery that has to be watched to know more.





16. Charlie Wilson’s war – 2007

A biographical political drama film about US congressman Charlie Wilson, Tom Hanks plays the role of Charlie Wilson with tremendous ease. This might not be his best performance, but the movie is a good watch considering the political insights of operation cyclone and the representative’s involvement in the covert operation of supplying armed weapons to Afghanistan Mujahideen to overpower the Soviet rule in Afghanistan.






17. Angels and Demons – 2009

Another mystery thriller from the same team that gave us The Da Vinci Code, Tom Hanks reprises the role of Robert Langdon with the same technical team of the director, musician, producer and screenwriter. Recalled by the Vatican to resolve the kidnappings of the four “preferiti”, one of whom would be in line to become the pope; Robert Langdon now has to resolve the anonymity behind the Illuminati group and save the four cardinals. Tom Hanks re-lives the role and the exciting finish makes this movie a mystery thriller more than a religious one.






18. Toy Story Series

This is a super hit animated series which began in 1995 and its last part of the franchisee that released in 2010 proved that Toy Story has won fans all over the world unconditionally. While the lovable characters, story and characterization play their parts in convincing the audience, Tom Hanks’ voice over for the lead protagonist Woody added some meaty advantage. Watch all the series and you’ll love them.






19. Cloud Atlas – 2012

A science fiction drama based on the 2004 novel, the plot is set around six different eras and how one’s behavior and actions influence the past present and future generations. The multiple plotlines are not easily conceived but brilliant cinematography, music score, visuals, cast and the originality keep you glued to the story. Watch the movie with patience and you will be amazed. It’s a movie for the ones interested in deep, thoughtful and visionary movies.







20. Captain Phillips – 2013

Another biographical crime thriller, Tom Hanks plays the real-life inspired role of Captain Philips whose ship was taken hostage by Somalian pirates on the Indian Ocean. The merchant mariner and his struggle to get his ship and men out of hostage form the rest of the plot. He plays a brilliantly balanced and crafted role to perfection. Watch the movie for the gripping screenplay and amazing acting by all.