With 64 acting credits on IMDb.com, 55 awards won, and an additional 52 nominations, Tom Hanks boasts quite the impressive resume. An attempt at selecting his five best films is no easy feat and would most likely result in a list of five Oscar-nominated dramas, which is, frankly, kind of boring. So, to jazz things up, we’ve selected five specific categories to pull from, in order to provide a Top Five list for Tom Hanks that simultaneously shows off his range and provides an accurate summary of his career.
Best (Romantic) Comedy: Big (1988)
A tough one. A part of me wants to say You’ve Got Mail, a film I’ve seen countless times and love so much against my better judgement that I did a scene from it in college. Another part of me wants to say Splash, because — hello — it stars a mermaid and features Tom Hanks at his absolute cutest. No part of me wants to say Sleepless in Seattle because I don’t like that movie, or Joe vs the Volcano because I’ve only seen roughly 10 minutes of it. So ultimately, I decided to go with Big. Not only is it a perfect ’80s comedy, hilarious, with a lot of heart, but Hanks is SO. EFFING. GOOD in it. The scene where he first touches Elizabeth Perkins’ boob alone is worth the Oscar nomination he got for the role, his first of five.
Runner-Up: You’ve Got Mail
Best Performance in a Film: Philadelphia (1993)
As the movie wherein Hanks truly proved himself as a dramatic actor and blew the world away so much so that he won his first Oscar, no top five list would be complete without Philadelphia. It was a huge moment for Hanks’ career and an even bigger moment for movies, due to its controversial and powerful subject matter. Try watching this movie and not crying your face off. I dare you.
Runner-Up: Aside from the ones already on this list, Castaway
Best Oscar-Nominated Drama: Forrest Gump (1994)
Another tough decision, certainly, when one considers other movies of Hanks’ that nabbed Oscar nominations in their respective years: The Green Mile, Cast Away, Saving Private Ryan, Road to Perdition, and more. But at the end of the day, I had to go with the film that won Hanks his second Best Actor Oscar in a row. Not only was he impeccable in a role that was highly difficult to pull off, but the film itself is as epic as it is original and is what really turned Hanks into a superstar.
Runner-Up: Apollo 13
Best Game-Changer: Toy Story (1996)
Many films of Hanks’ could go here, from his first Oscar-nominated role in Big to Castaway, a film mostly consisting of Hanks acting opposite an inanimate object, to Saving Private Ryan with its harrowing opening sequence, but I’m going with Toy Story, the first computer-animated film of all time that spawned a franchise and characters no kid in America couldn’t name, and marked the beginning of Pixar’s world domination. There is no denying that Hanks’ iconic voice and star power played a crucial role in the film that started it all.
Runner-Up: Saving Private Ryan
Best Supporting Role: Catch Me If You Can (2002)
Hilarious in his supporting role as Carl Hanratty (which, played by Norbert Leo Butz on Broadway, just won a Tony), Hanks provided another memorable performance in another memorable film. I LOVE this movie. I watch it every time it’s on television. Not only is it my favorite supporting role of Hanks’, but I think it’s his best film in the past 10 years.
Runner-Up: A League of Their Own (Sorry, That Thing You Do! I love you too!)
So that’s my list. But the fascinating and wonderful thing about Hanks is how the opinion of his best films of his could change so drastically from person to person. If you asked 10 people what their top five Hanks films were, I would bet no two people would have the same answer. So what are your favorites? Feel free to sound off below.