Starring in numerous classics that captured our imaginations, Tom Hanks is now nothing short of a cultural icon. The tw0-time Oscar winner and six-time nominee has earned an unprecedented level of affection and even trust from audiences, the most beloved movie star of our time—and widely known as one of the absolute nicest guys in Hollywood, both onscreen and off.
When presenting Hanks with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, President Barack Obama summed it up perfectly: “He has introduced us to America’s unassuming heroes. He has allowed us to see ourselves, not only as we are, but as we aspire to be.”
We’ve rounded up and ranked the best Tom Hanks movies of all time. Where does Elvis rank among Hanks’ filmography? What’s the iconic actor and filmmaker’s greatest movie ever? Here are the best Tom Hanks movies ever, ranked.
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Best Tom Hanks Movies of All Time
27. The Burbs (1989)
By 1989, Hanks was already so popular with audiences that The Burbs opened atop the box office simply because of his likability and star power, despite mixed reviews. A meh but pleasurable dark comedy from Joe Dante, five years after his handcrafted masterpiece of mayhem Gremlins, The Burbs co-stars Bruce Dern, Carrie Fisher, Corey Feldman and Rick Ducommon. It’s about neighbors who suspect the new folks on the block are part of a murderous cult. Like other Dante efforts, The Burbs utilizes clever and eye-popping visual effects, but the greatest effect in an uneven film is Hanks’ breezily funny presence.
26. Greyhound (2020)
At the absolute zenith of the pandemic, two Hanks pictures were released on streaming to positive notice: News of the World on Netflix and Greyhound to Apple. Directed by Aaron Schneider from a screenplay by Hanks, Greyhound co-stars Elizabeth Shue, Stephen Graham and Hanks’ son Chet Hanks. It’s a relatively low-fi World War II maritime thriller that fleshes out character and stages gripping action in an economic 91 minutes, no small feat. Greyhound was Oscar-nominated for Best Sound.
25. Sully aka Sully: Miracle on the Hudson (2016)
Co-starring with Aaron Eckhart, Laura Linney and Anna Gunn, Hanks teamed up with director Clint Eastwood for this biopic/legal drama hybrid about Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, Sully examines the emergency landing of US Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson River, and legal investigation that followed. Sully doesn’t have the heft of the director or star’s absolute finest, but the set-piece is riveting, and so are the actors.
24. News of the World (2020)
News of the World reunited Hanks and director Paul Greengrass years after the considerable success of Captain Phillips. Based on the novel of the same name, the action drama stars Hanks as a Civil War vet who crosses paths with a 10-year-old girl (Helena Zengel) raised by Kiowa, and journeys across perilous Texas terrain to return her to her family. News of the World nails the pacing of a classic Western: deliberate and explorative overall, and nail-bitingly tense at times.
23. Turner & Hooch (1989)
Turner & Hooch is Tom Hanks and a big dog. Does it get any more high-concept appealing than that? Tomorrow Never Dies director Roger Spottiswoode directs the Oscar winner in a comedy crime caper about a by-the-book detective who inherits a deceased colleague’s Dogue de Bordeaux. The film was adapted for a Disney+ series in 2021. Be warned: This is a comedy that may require a box of tissues.
22. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2018)
Tom Hanks as Fred Rogers has to be among the most perfect casting decisions of all time. Hanks played the beloved, iconic children’s television personality in Marielle Heller‘s drama A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. The Oscar-nominated film, written by Noah Harpsand Micah Fitzerman-Blue, centers on real-life journalist Tom Junod (played by The Americans‘ Emmy winner Matthew Rhys), whose life was enriched by an opportunity to profile Rogers for Esquire. Hanks is perfect, and frankly, the movie would have benefited from giving him more screen time. It’s a respectful and even insightful biopic, but with this casting, it should have been a home run.
21. Bridge of Spies (2015)
In frequent collaborator Steven Spielberg‘s Cold War-set Bridge of Spies, Hanks plays real-life lawyer James B. Donovan, tasked with a prisoner exchange after defending a convicted KGB spy. Divided into two distinct halves, Bridge of Spies is light on its feet, a little creaky at times, and mostly satisfying—a notch under top-tier Spielberg. Everyone in Bridge of Spies is upstaged by Mark Rylance, who won Best Supporting Actor at the Oscars over favored Sylvester Stallone (Creed). It was the biggest upset of the night.
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20. Joe Versus the Volcano (1990)
Before box-office behemoths Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail, the classic pairing of Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks shined in Moonstruck writer/director John Patrick Shanley‘s cult classic, underrated rom-com about a hypochondriac who’s apparently about to die, accepting an offer from an eccentric millionaire (Lloyd Bridges) to die with dignity, in a remote tropical volcano. Ryan plays three roles in a comedy that’s boldly absurdist and mostly just a treat. Watching it all these years later, it’s easy to wish that one day we’ll see Hanks and Ryan share the screen together again.
19. That Thing You Do! (1996)
Hanks’ debut as screenwriter/director is an ensemble dramedy about a fictional rock band in the vein of The Beatles. High-energy That Thing You Do! is charming and fun, it succeeds handsomely in evoking a bygone era, and it’s fluffier than some of the more groundbreaking pictures Hanks was attached to in the ’90s. That’s a high bar! A deleted scene gave Hanks, who plays the band’s gay manager, a boyfriend played by NFL star Howie Long. The scene also features Hanks’ wife Rita Wilson. It’s very funny, and frankly, it’s a shame it didn’t make it into the final cut. Fortunately, it can now be enjoyed in all its glory online.
18. You’ve Got Mail (1998)
Nora Ephron‘s follow-up to Sleepless in Seattle is a higher-tech (’90s!) remake of Ernst Lubitsch’s masterpiece The Shop Around the Corner. Reuniting Ryan and Hanks, hilarious as bitter business rivals who are secretly in love over dial-up, You’ve Got Mail was a huge box-office success, grossing over $250 million, even more than Sleepless in Seattle or When Harry Met Sally.
17. The Post (2017)
Steven Spielberg found Liz Hannah’s script for this dramatic thriller about Katharine Graham, Ben Bradleeand the 1971 publication of the Pentagon Papers so timely and vital that he shut down development on a stalled period piece, and fast-tracked The Post for a holiday 2017 release. Timing matters, and The Post, a model of stripped-down, streamlined storytelling, became a must-see movie of the moment. It’s easy to overlook imperfections (it’s not exactly subtle) because high-spirited The Post is mostly exhilarating, a showcase for Meryl Streep‘s best performance in at least a decade, maybe since Adaptation. She’s understated to great effect—and Graham’s arc carries the film. Quiet, deliberate and tough, her rapport with Hanks‘ gruff Bradlee is easy, lived-in, and amusing when they occasionally lock horns.
16. Road to Perdition (2002)
Sam Mendes‘ period gangster film casts Hanks against type as a weathered criminal; he headlines a cast that includes Paul Newman, Jennifer Jason Leigh and a pre-Bond Daniel Craig. With this talent behind and in front of the camera, Road to Perdition looked like it could be one for the ages, but ultimately it’s a little overly orchestrated. It’s easy to recommend, though, and is particularly affecting in its themes surrounding fathers and sons. Road to Perdition looks breathtaking in virtually every moment, thanks to Mendes re-teaming with American Beauty cinematographer Conrad Hall.
15. Splash (1984)
Hanks and Daryl Hannah charm in Ron Howard‘s rom-com about an everyman and a mermaid. Notable for being the first film released under Disney’s Touchstone banner for more grownup audiences, Splash was Oscar-nominated for Best Original Screenplay. The smart script is the most valuable element here, mining a concept that could have been merely cute for rom-com misunderstandings and antics in a classic sense.
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14. Saving Mr. Banks (2013)
Hanks stars with Emma Thompson in The Blind Side director John Lee Hancock‘s winning, somewhat underrated family dramedy about the long road to the production of classic 1964 musical Mary Poppins, focusing on the prickly relationship between author P.L. Travers and Walt Disney. Some critics said the film was a bit embellished and softened from reality, but Thompson and Hanks are enchanting, and Saving Mr. Banks has an emotional hook that works all too well. This is the first-ever depiction of Disney himself in a mainstream film; Disney CEO Bob Iger contacted Hanks personally about the project.
13. Elvis (2022)
Stylized within an inch of its life, sometimes positively pulsing with anachronistic hip-hop beats, Baz Luhrmann‘s best since the mighty Moulin Rouge! does everything it must, honoring pop music‘s pioneer for a modern audience. Like the Australian auteur’s 2001 Oscar winner, Elvis is so opulent and kinetic it would be chaos if it weren’t for fine performances and heart—and there’s much of that.
Sure, it’s a biopic in a sequined cape, but the methodical spectacle and earnest melodrama make it feel timeless. A lively Hanks chews the scenery as what’s likely his least sympathetic character ever; ultimately this is Austin Butler’s show—and oh, what a show. A star is born.
12. Cast Away (2000)
One of the high points of innovative director Robert Zemeckis and Hanks’ long-running working relationship is this drama about a workaholic FedEx exec who becomes stranded on an island in the Pacific Ocean, the sole survivor of a cargo plane crash.
Hanks has remained popular for decades in part because of a willingness to take risks. Though Cast Away benefits greatly from Helen Hunt‘s supporting turn with limited screen time, Hanks spends much of the runtime acting opposite a volleyball named Wilson. It’s no doubt a testament to the talent involved that such a film enthralled audiences: Cast Away grossed over $429 million, and Hanks was Oscar-nominated.
11. The Green Mile (1999)
One of multiple brilliant Frank Darabont pictures adapted from the work of Stephen King, The Green Mile stars Hanks and Michael Clarke Duncan in a story about supernatural events on Depression-era death row. Despite running over three hours, The Green Mile doesn’t feel overlong; it’s absorbing and rich in character. The drama received four Academy Award nominations: Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Duncan), Best Sound and Best Adapted Screenplay.
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Top 10 Tom Hanks Movies
10. Sleepless in Seattle (1993)
Stars Hanks and Ryan and director/co-writer Nora Ephron are in top form in this swoon-worthy, often hilarious romantic comedy about a widower and a reporter who fall in love over the airwaves. Nominated for two Oscars, Sleepless in Seattle was a big hit with critics and a major force at the box office, grossing roughly ten times its budget worldwide.
9. A League of Their Own (1992)
Hanks, Geena Davis, Madonna and Rosie O’Donnell star in Penny Marshall‘s much-loved fictionalized account of real-life All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. A League of Their Own is one of the most popular sports films ever for good reason: It’s great family entertainment and an inspiring underdog story. There’s no crying in baseball!
8. Catch Me If You Can (2002)
An unqualified win across the respective filmographies of Hanks, Spielberg and Leonardo DiCaprio, Catch Me If You Can is the stylish, funny and touching sort-of biopic based on the (largely refuted and disproven) autobiography of con man Frank Abagnale Jr., and the FBI agent who tracks him. It’s a game of cat and mouse at first, then it gets better when it becomes more of a father-son story. Wisely timed for a holiday season 2002 release, Catch Me If You Can appealed to a wide, multigenerational audience like relatively few films can.
7. Apollo 13 (1995)
This nail-biting dramatization of the aborted 1970 lunar mission is arguably director Ron Howard‘s best film to date, and the filmmakers went to extraordinary lengths to make Apollo 13 scientifically accurate as well as entertaining. Stars Hanks, Kevin Bacon, Bill Paxton, Gary Sinise and Ed Harris committed to learning and experiencing as much as possible in preparation for their highly technical roles, even impressing those at NASA.
A meticulously crafted, visceral and emotionally potent thriller about real-life survival against all odds, Apollo 13 was nominated for nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture (winning for Best Film Editing and Best Sound).
6. Captain Phillips (2013)
Technically flawless and close to unbearable in the level of tension it generates, critical and commercial hit Captain Phillips pairs Hanks with United 93 and The Bourne Supremacy director Paul Greengrass. It’s based on the 2009 commandeering of U.S. containership Maersk Alabama by Somali pirates, and an ensuing hostage crisis. The final moments of Captain Phillips represent some of the beloved performer’s finest throw-down, heartbreaking acting. It’s the kind of thing that stays with you and reminds you why this is one of our most enduringly popular talents.
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5. Big (1988)
Even in 1988, this kind of body-swap comedy setup felt mined to death. With a winning script by Gary Ross and Anne Spielberg (focused more on character than high jinks and yuks), Penny Marshall’s Big, about a 12-year-old whose magic wish turns him into a 30-year-old man, defied expectations. Co-starring Elizabeth Perkins and the ever-underrated Robert Loggia, Big was a massive hit and received two Oscar nods: for best original screenplay, and Hanks’ first for Best Actor. All these years later, Big is utterly bewitching.
4. Philadelphia (1993)
Two years after The Silence of the Lambs broke box-office records and permanently entered the zeitgeist (and also drew criticism from activists), the incomparably humanistic Jonathan Demme‘s Oscar-winning drama Philadelphia made a huge impact on pop culture and beyond. The picture starred Hanks as a gay lawyer fired from his firm when his AIDS diagnosis is discovered. Denzel Washington played the attorney who defends him in court as he sues for discrimination.
3. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
You can divide the history of war films into two eras: before and after Saving Private Ryan. The most influential war movie since Lewis Milestone‘s All Quiet on the Western Front (1930), which director Steven Spielberg cites as a key inspiration, Saving Private Ryan is one of the great directorial accomplishments in cinema. The battle scenes are as remarkable for their awe-inspiring technical wizardry and authenticity (Spielberg famously didn’t storyboard the D-Day landing scene, as he wanted genuine spontaneity) as they are for being stomach-turning and at times almost unbearable to watch. After the release of the unflinching, masterfully immersive Saving Private Ryan, so many earlier World War II films just seem quaint, phony by comparison. This film is uniquely powerful for veterans and their loved ones.
2. The Toy Story franchise (1995-2019)
Pixar’s emotionally sophisticated saga of long-term friendship—and growing up—ushered in a new era of animation. The series maintained massive critical and financial success for a quarter-century.
The best of the Toy Story bunch is part three. The unexpectedly dark and bittersweet detours taken in its third act are among the greatest creative risks the artists at Pixar have ever taken, and the most rewarding. Perhaps especially for millennial audiences who grew up with Andy, Toy Story 3 is a profoundly moving film. The fourth picture is often brilliant, but more divisive—ending on an uncomfortably mature note.
1. Forrest Gump (1994)
Slow-witted but generous of heart, Hanks’ titular hero Forrest Gump captured the hearts of audiences worldwide. Robert Zemeckis’ profoundly American epic also sees the filmmaker at the top of his oft-formidable game. In telling the story of a good man who traverses the U.S. over several decades, suffers loss, falls in love and never gives up, the innovator uses special effects without ever upstaging the plot or people.
Forrest Gump almost wasn’t the film we know today: Hanks paid for crucial scenes out of his own pocket after the studio refused. Hanks and Zemeckis’ shared belief in the material paid off, and the picture was one of the biggest box-office hits of the ’90s, winning Best Picture, Best Director and Hanks’ second consecutive Best Actor at the Academy Awards. Forrest Gump is a movie of the strangest alchemy that works like magic.
Next, see where Forrest Gump ranks among the 100 best movies of all time.