Actor Ranked: Tom Hanks

I don’t think it would be possible for anybody to have a favourite actors list without ever mentioning the lovable Tom Hanks. Whether it be the voice of Woody in Pixar’s Toy Story or as the non-stop champion that is Forrest Grump, he’s had a role that everybody will have a favourite of.

Here is my ranking of his performances (not of the films themselves) to date:

1. Big (1988)

They really don’t make them like this any more, but then there’s also a lot about this story that they wouldn’t get away with if it were made today, as light-hearted as it comes across in this 80s family comedy.

Full to the brim of heart, Big is my favourite Tom Hanks roles. It’s a fun 80s film that you can watch over and over again and never get bored of. A real classic that will always mean a lot to me.

2. Apollo 13 (1995)

Ron Howard always likes to stay on top of film-making, and in its day Apollo 13 was experimenting with some of the newest visual effects. Special effects have certainly been improved since then, but it’s still an excellent space travel story. At its heart, it’s an epic in its own right, one that has certainly influenced many films since. It’s definitely one of Howard’s best and a sci-fi that will be hard to top, much of which is down to the fantastic performances throughout.

3. The Termimal (2004)

I love so much about this film and it makes me laugh constantly because of how fantastic Tom Hanks’ character is, but there are many holes in the story. Maybe it’s because of a lack of depth and development in places, but maybe it’s because the characters are so likeable that I just want to know more. I want to know if Viktor finds what he’s been waiting for, I want to know if Amelia finds her destiny, I want to know if Frank is turned on and loses his job because of how he couldn’t relate to Viktor, I want to know how Enrique and Dolores get to know each other, and I want to know if Gupta gets to see his family again. For me, there’s a whole other film to come.

4. Road to Perdition (2002)

With brilliant cinematography and some great roles that are all really well acted, Road to Perdition is an impressive and powerful gangster thriller and another great film by Sam Mendes. He never fails to impress, and neither does Hanks. This is undoubtedly one of his most powerful performances to date.

5. Forrest Gump (1994)

Forrest Gump has a bit of everything – drama, romance, war, comedy, action… It’s hard to imagine how somebody would have come up with a story like this; in particular, the character of Forrest Gump. But I’ve loved this film since I first watched it over ten years ago, and I will happily watch it every time that it is on TV. Tom Hanks is just phenomenal. He’s the reason why many of us love this film, and it just wouldn’t be the same without him.

My Rankings Continued:
  • 6. Saving Private Ryan – An exceptional war drama with a phenomenal cast. The first 30 minutes are powerful, graphic and intense, brilliantly portraying the depiction of the Omaha Beach assault in WW2. It’s an unflinching take on the brutal reality of war and Spielberg definitely doesn’t shy away from the blood and piled-up bodies. It’s a true tale of survival in the worst of times, which is why it’s so important. John Williams’ score doesn’t stand out much this time which is the only thing that lets me down, but the talent in the directing and cinematography are both obvious.
  • 7. Green Mile – It’s easy to forget how long this film is. Nonetheless, it’s a very interesting film that keeps you gripped until the very end, one so moving that it’s bound to have an effect on you. I enjoy the combination of looking back at a historical form of punishment but also merging slightly on fantasy. It is pretty dark in places, but that’s what gives it such a powerful edge, shocking you in its developments, engaging you in each of the characters’ stories, and making you feel every inch of pain that is felt.
  • 8. Philadelphia – One of the first mainstream films to cover the issue of HIV/AIDS and you can see from the story why it was so important for someone to do so. It’s brilliantly told and deals with its big issues incredibly well and also very bravely. Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington both give their best performances in this emotional courtroom drama.
  • 9. You’ve Got Mail – A truly delightful rom-com that fills me warmth. There are books, a dog, instant messaging, and a man trying to prove that he’s worth loving. Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks work together so well and I love them both.
  • 10. Captain Phillips – Tom Hanks proves he is still one of the best around and gives his best performances in a long time. He gives so much more than what’s expected of him in the final 15 minutes that it’s hard to take your eyes off the screen, giving a great ending to the film. You can read my full review here.
  • 11. Dan Brown’s Inferno Trilogy – I’ve not read the books but I really enjoy all three films. I’m not sure why it’s a guilty pleasure for most as I think the first film is great and even prefer its sequel. Tom Hanks gives a great lead in them all and it’s an interesting role for him to take on.
  • 12. Catch Me If You Can – I love films true story films about conmen to see how much they got away with and this one about Frank Abagnale Jr. is a clever and entertaining cat-and-mouse crime drama. Spielberg tells the story incredibly well, and Leonardo DiCaprio is the perfect man for the job. Tom Hanks is great, too.
  • 13. Cast Away – I love the idea and story but I found the film itself quite hard work to get invested in. Obviously, I didn’t expect an awful lot to happen, but many rewatches later, it feels too empty. I wasn’t moved by it nor did I care for Hank’s character. So, in the end, the outcome didn’t really affect me.
  • 14. Sully – I didn’t know anything about this real-life story beforehand so it was amazing to see what happened both during the crash and in the aftermath. Captain Chesley Sullenberger is cool thinking and pragmatic, and Hanks plays him brilliantly. A quality film from Clint Eastwood, both the exciting action and the more formal investigation are handled excellently to tell the story of a real hero.
  • 15. Turner & Hooch – Hooch and Tom Hanks are hilariously fun. Whilst not particularly original or complex, there are some sad scenes in between all of the laughs, and some very memorable scenes. It’s hard not to be constantly entertained by these two.
  • 16. Dragnet – A highly entertaining 80s buddy cop comedy starring Dan Aykroyd and Tom Hanks. It’s equally funny and nostalgic and is light-hearted enough for easy viewing.
  • 17. The Post – A similar film to 2016’s hugely successful Spotlight, The Post is another newsroom drama based on a true story, with a great cast showing the exceptional efforts of a number of journalists who are determined to publish the truth. A brilliant historical drama filled with excellent performances, The Post is exactly what a film should be – a quality projection of a remarkable story that needs to be told.
  • 18. The Burbs – This dark comedy has a real Joe Dante feel to it. The ending is really great and you don’t know what’s going on until the very end.
  • 19. Saving Mr Banks – A lovely, nostalgic story. It’s amazing to see how the story of Mary Poppins was made into a film and to see a glimpse of Walt Disney’s life. It’s as magical as Disney itself.
  • 20. Cloud Atlas – Another thing I love about the adaptation is the use of only a handful of actors for a large set of characters, as each actor took on a number of roles. The make-up is extremely laughable in places but it is also fantastic at the same time, with some of the cast even playing different sexes and races. The performances were surprisingly strong, too. Tom Hanks and Halle Berry undeniably lead the film, but I especially enjoyed the performances from Ben Whishaw and Jim Sturgess. For readers of the book, the performances will be one of the strongest qualities of the film, as each of the actors suited their many roles, bringing to life their characters in the most superb way. You can read my full review here.
  • 21. Splash
  • 22. The Bachelor
  • 23. Sleepless In Seattle – Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan make such lovely rom-coms. I prefer You’ve Got Mail, but this is just as heart-warming.
  • 24. Bridge of Spies
  • 25. Charlie Wilson’s War – It’s always interesting to watch a film based on a true story when you had no idea that this was even going on at the time. Tom Hanks, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Julia Roberts are all fantastic, and directed Mike Nichols combines comedy with the seriousness of the situation well.
  • 26. The Ladykillers (2004) – I’m yet to see the original which I’m sure will alter my opinion of this remake, but I found The Ladykillers thoroughly enjoyable. The Coen brothers’ style works really well with the soundtrack and eccentric characters being some of the best qualities. I loved Tom Hanks’ role and the supporting cast was just as likeable and found myself laughing quite a lot.
  • 27. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – I also enjoyed seeing Hanks, for the small part of it, in the role of a family man. Undeniably a great actor, and a brilliant one to have attached to the film in the first place, it is not often that we see Hanks in this type of character. He may have only had a small role in the film, though his character still had the biggest impact on the film, his role was one of my favourite things about this film. You can read my full review here.
  • 28. The Money Pit – A few harmless laughs, but not a lot more.
  • 29. That Thing You Do! – I’m still singing the song and it hasn’t become annoying yet.
  • 30. Larry Crowne – Surely Tom Hanks isn’t lacking in film offers just yet? But I kind of liked his character here… it totally undermines his talent but he’s a lovable guy.

Note: I still need to see A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood, The Circle, A Hologram for the King, Ithaca, The Great Buck Howard, Elvis Has Left the Building, Mazes and Monsters, A League of Their Own, The Bonfire of the Vanities, Joe Versus the Volcano, Punchline, Every Time We Say Goodbye, Nothing in Common, Volunteers, The Man with One Red Shoe, and He Knows You’re Alone.


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About Charlie Morris

Proofreader and film blogger living in Cornwall.

2 Responses

  1. Ummm, sorry for being impossible, but I can’t bear Tom Hanks. I honestly don’t understand his appeal, he always seems to play Tom Hanks.
    (Maybe it’s a Tom thing, I can’t stand Tom Cruise or Tom Selleck either, hahaha)


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