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From 'Big' to 'Captain Phillips,' TOH! Ranks Tom Hanks' Ten Best Performances

by TOH!
December 19, 2013 3:25 PM
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Tom Hanks as "Captain Phillips"

One year removed from sprawling $100-million epic (and epic flop) "Cloud Atlas," which even the beloved movie icon couldn't save, Tom Hanks is enjoying the kind of year that defined his heyday in the 1990s.

Celebrating the 25th anniversary of his first Oscar nomination -- for Penny Marshall's comedy classic "Big," now available in a new Blu-ray/DVD edition from 20th Century Fox -- Hanks is basking in awards buzz once more, for his commanding title performance in piracy thriller "Captain Phillips." (Buzz has subsided for Hanks' supporting turn as Walt Disney in making-of-"Mary Poppins" tale "Saving Mr. Banks," which missed out on key precursor awards nominations and has so far accrued middling box office receipts -- but never count out Hanks with the Academy; he's a popular fellow.)

Hanks, whom The Daily Beast touted as a "viral video superstar"  (not to mention the box office champion, two-time Oscar winner, and blissfully married Everyman who's "worked with everyone from Robert De Niro to Madonna"), remains the standard-bearer of versatility.

'Cloud Atlas'

In The Definitive Tom Hanks Matrix, Vulture categorized his films as Good, Bad, Goofy, or Serious, marking the stages of a career that's witnessed sitcom stardom ("Bosom Buddies"), humorous fantasies ("Splash," "Big"), Academy fare ("Philadelphia," "Forrest Gump"), Hollywood romances ("Sleepless in Seattle," "You've Got Mail"), major blockbusters ("The Da Vinci Code"), and idiosyncratic failures ("The Ladykillers").

In the process, he's amassed massive box office numbers. His top-grossing live-action films (not including high earners "Toy Story" 1, 2 & 3 or "The Polar Express") are below (worldwide grosses):

"The Da Vinci Code" 2006 -  $757,236,138
"Forrest Gump" 1994 - $679,400,525
"Angels & Demons"2009 - $490,875,846
"Saving Private Ryan" 1998 - $485,035,085
"Cast Away" 2000 - $427,230,516
"Catch Me if You Can" 2002 - $351,106,800
"Apollo 13" 1995 - $334,100,000
"The Green Mile" 1999 - $290,701,374
"You've Got Mail" 1998 - $250,800,000

"Sleepless in Seattle" 1993 - $227,900,000


We live in a different world now: the well-regarded "Captain Phillips," a hit at more than $200 million worldwide, isn't even on the same planet as "Gump." But the diversity of roles on this list demands respect. Maybe because Hanks' off-camera work -- producing big-budget HBO World War II series "Band of Brothers" and "The Pacific," directing modest success d'estime "That Thing You Do!" and bland disappointment "Larry Crowne" -- has brought more mixed results, his on-screen bankability seems inextricable from his reputation as a stalwart performer in any genre.

With that in mind, TOH! ranks the 10 best performances in the actor's storied career -- complete with trailers -- after the jump.


  • Daniel | December 21, 2013 7:57 PMReply

    Good choices but how the hell is Forrest Gump not mentioned? I'd argue to say that that's his best performance. Pretty stupid to overlook that one, especially since he won an Oscar for it as well.

  • JAB | December 19, 2013 6:25 PMReply

    I personally would've rated his performance as Jim Lovell in "Apollo 13" among his Top 10. His enigmatic Capt. Miller from "Saving Private Ryan" certainly belongs here, but I agree his work in "Captain Phillips" may be his best.
    Apparently that heart wrenching last scene of his wasn't exactly written like that on the page. Hanks & Greengrass decided to tweak it a bit.

  • Brian Whisenant | December 19, 2013 5:43 PMReply

    As entertaining as his Gump might be to some I do not and have never thought it to be a great performance. Especially when you put it up against Captain Phillips and Philadrlphia. Even Big and Toy Story.

  • Austin | December 19, 2013 4:21 PMReply

    How in the world is Forrest Gump not in the top 3?

  • Mark | December 20, 2013 6:15 PM

    Beats the shit out of me. It's not even in their top 10. I guess they're trying to be edgy by not including it. Pretty ridiculous.

    "No sir we are not related."

  • James S. | December 19, 2013 3:56 PMReply

    Thank you, Matt Brennan! I agree that the last few minutes of Captain Phillips contain Hanks' single greatest moment on film. It's my choice for best performance of the year, and one that I think will be given even greater consideration in the years to come.

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