Pick Five #1 – Tom Cruise

Okay, so we’re going to start this new and probably intermittent feature with probably the biggest star on the planet for the past thirty years. Tom Cruise has featured as performer in a surprising forty-one movies at time of writing and he has covered a multitude of genres in his astounding career.

For this feature, we’re going to have a look my top five favourite performances from the great man. This short list may not be to everyone’s liking, but opinions are like arseholes, right? These are my favourites, yours might be different. That’s okay too.

5. EYES WIDE SHUT (1999) (Dr William Harford) Dir, Stanley Kubrick
Tragically, Eyes Wide Shut was to become Stanley Kubrick’s last film. Based all too loosely on the novel ‘Dream Story’ from Arthur Schnitzler, the story revolves around one night of sexual adventuring by Doctor Bill Harford and the fallout from this night’s excesses. Prompted to these actions due to revelations from his wife, Alice (Nicole Kidman, Cruise’s actual wife at the time of filming) about an affair she nearly committed, Dr Harford seeks out a private party held by a secret society. CRuise’s desire to work with Kubrick was fulfilled, but only just in time. It was only after a meeting with Kubrick in person that Cruise and Kidman were offered their parts. Originally Jennifer Jason Leigh and Harvey Keitel were initally pencilled in to play the couple on screen.

4. WAR OF THE WORLDS (2005) (Ray Ferrier) Dir, Steven Spielberg
Both War Of The Worlds and The Color Of Money could be excused as ‘guilty pleasures’ if we’re being brutally honest. War Of The Worlds is a particular case of this, as the film itself was never lavished with much praise, but Cruise’s portrayal of Ray Ferrier, estranged father, whose protective nature for his children comes into play when the planet is attacked by Martians is extremely engaging and tugs firmly at fathers everywhere. A modern re-telling of the HG Wells story was well-timed and Steven Spielberg’s version here contains some nerve-shredding moments of its own.

3. THE COLOR OF MONEY (1986) (Vincent Lauria) Dir, Martin Scorsese

Three years after Risky Business and two years before Top Gun, Tom Cruise joined up with Paul Newman for the unoffical sequel to The Hustler, which also starred Newman as ‘Fast’ Eddie Felson. Still maturing as an actor, Cruise plays the part of Vincent, a pool prodigy that is picked up and managed by Eddie, with the intention of hustling enough money at pool tables across the country, before attending the World Pool Championships. With Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio and John Turturro, the cast is enviable and Scorsese delivers a tight drama, with rare moments of pure levity.

2. INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE (1994) (Lestat de Lioncourt) Dir, Neil Jordan

If you care to cast a glance at the movie poster, you can see the established Cruise all over it, but this adaptation from the book of the same name by Anne Rice was arguably the vehicle that truly brought Brad Pitt to the attention of the blockbuster masses. Concentrating on the largely miserable undead afterlife of Louis de Pointe du Lac, played by Pitt, this sees Cruise play his ‘creator’ and mentor in all things Vampire, Lestat, a beautifully soulless creature devoted to pleasure, luxury and hedonism. Cementing the canon forever in timeless cinematic glory, it also featured a young Kirsten Dunst, Christian Slater and Antonio Banderas to name but a few. an exquisitely hopeless reminder that you truly need ot be careful what you wish for.

1. MAGNOLIA (1999) (Frank T J Mackey) Dir, Paul Thomas Anderson

The search for happiness and meaning for a collection of interconnected people in the San Fernando Valley. Hailed as a genuine classic even at time of its release, Paul Anderson gathers a stellar cast of actors to portray a fascinatingly eclectic group of people that he himself created. Cruise was nominated for a Best Supporting Oscar for his role as Frank Mackey, the motivational speaker with serious parental issues. Here too, you can find Jason Robards, in his final film, the late Philip Seymour Hoffman in what might have been his best ever performance, William H Macy, Julianne Moore, John C Reilly and the outstanding Philip Baker Hall. A fierce ensemble of truly gifted artists coming together to create something breathtaking was Anderson’s goal and he achieved it incredibly. This remains Tom Cruise’s best performance to date and it is unlikely ever to be bettered.

The Near Misses;

Risky Business, Vanilla Sky, Minority Report, Top Gun, Cocktail
So what do you think?…

 

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