Tom Hanks is an American actor, producer, and director that has gained world-wide recognition and awards for his roles on both the big and small screens. Known for his comedic timing as well as his dramatic performances, Tom Hanks has made many memorable films that have stood the test of time. With decades of incredible work in his resume, here is what we deem to be Tom Hanks’s best movies ranked, from Forrest Gump to Cast Away.
1: Forrest Gump
Forrest Gump, released in 1994 and directed by Robert Zemeckis, is arguably the best movie that Hanks has ever been a part of. He plays the title character, an affable and lovable man with a low IQ who finds himself in and out of historical events. Forrest Gump earned almost universal acclaim and numerous awards, including six Academy Awards and a Golden Globe. Despite its prevalence in pop culture, to this day, Forrest Gump remains one of the greatest films ever made and a definitive embodiment of Hanks’s acting capabilities.
2: Saving Private Ryan
Saving Private Ryan is a 1998 war film set in World War II, directed by Steven Spielberg. It stars Tom Hanks as the commanding officer of a squad that is sent out to find and bring home a paratrooper, Private James Ryan (Matt Damon) who is the last surviving brother from a family of servicemen. Hanks gives a heartbreakingly powerful performance as the good-hearted Captain Miller, as he sends his men on a perilous mission to complete their duty. Saving Private Ryan was a critical and commercial success, and is widely considered to be one of the greatest war movies of all time.
1988’s Big, directed by Penny Marshall, was one of the first films to put Tom Hanks in the spotlight. His portrayal of a 13-year-old boy, who by wish of a carnival game is transformed into his adult body, became an instant classic. The movie is a heartfelt and funny look at growing up, life, and love. It earned numerous awards, including Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations, making it one of Hanks’s most well-known films.
4: Apollo 13
In 1995, Ron Howard directed the box-office hit Apollo 13. The movie stars Tom Hanks as Astronaut Jim Lovell along with the rest of the crew of Apollo 13 as they face an enormous dilemma during their mission to the moon. The film has become Howard’s signature work, and Hanks was hailed as a master of film acting, with soaring performances that made Apollo 13 a must-see movie.
5: A League of Their Own
Tom Hanks reunited with the always successful Penny Marshall in 1992’s A League of Their Own, a comedic drama film set in the 1940s that showcased the struggles of the first professional female baseball league during the war. Hanks stars as the coach hired to manage the team, and is joined by a fantastic cast including Geena Davis, Madonna, Lori Petty and Rosie O’Donnell. A surprise box office hit, A League of Their Own has become a popular favorite and one of Tom Hanks’s favorite films.
6: Cast Away
In 2000, Robert Zemeckis gave us Cast Away. The story follows FedEx executive Chuck Noland (Hanks) who is stranded alone on an uninhabited island for four years, and his journey of survival and eventual rescue. Cast Away is a great example of Hanks’s remarkable range, and the single take performance of his numerous monologues was masterfully done. Despite the limited cast and budget, Cast Away became a huge hit and was nominated several times for Academy Awards.
1993’s Philadelphia tells the story of a gay man (Hanks) who, after being diagnosed with HIV, is fired from the law firm where he works and decides to fight their discrimination and prejudice with the help of a homophobic attorney (Denzel Washington). Hanks’s and Washington’s moving performances were very well-received by both audience and critics. Both of them earned numerous awards, with Philadelphia gaining Hanks his first Academy Award for Best Actor.
8: The Green Mile
The Green Mile is a 1999 supernatural drama movie adapted from the Stephen King’s novel of the same name, and directed by Frank Darabont. The film has a stellar cast, and centers around a Missouri Prison guard (Hanks) and the events surrounding a condemned black man on death row, who had seemingly supernatural healing abilities. Tom Hanks plays the role with aplomb, a sensitive and wise performance which earned him his third Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe.
9: The Terminal
Another Spielberg- directed film with an incredible performance from Hanks is 2004’s The Terminal, starring Hanks as Viktor Navorski, an Eastern European man stuck at an airport terminal when his home country experiences a coup and his passport becomes useless. The Terminal is a sweet and funny movie with a great story. The performances of Hanks, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and the supporting cast were praised, and The Terminal was nominated for two Academy Awards.
10: Captain Phillips
In 2013, Hanks teamed up with Paul Greengrass in the action-packed biographical drama Captain Phillips. The movie follows the events of the attempted hijacking of the Maersk Alabama cargo ship in 2009, and Tom Hanks gives a gripping and heart-breaking performance as Captain Richard Phillips. Captain Phillips went on to earn 6 Academy Award nominations and is one of Hanks best and most overlooked performances.
Tom Hanks has had a successful acting career spanning four decades, consistently delivering some of the best performances of each generation. From comedies like Big to the heart-breaking drama of Captain Phillips, his work has delighted and moved audiences world-wide, allowing him to become one of the greatest actors of all time. While it is hard to rank all of his excellent performances, here is what we deem to be Tom Hanks’s best movies ranked, from Forrest Gump to Cast Away.