Few actors have a career like that of Tom Hanks. It wasn’t easy to make this list, since there are so many long-forgotten gems in the VHS box. But after careful study, here are my favorite Hanks films.
Saving Private Ryan
Such an honest performance of a man fighting a war out of a sense of honor and duty. He doesn’t want to be there, but thank God he is.
How can you not fall in love with America’s charming man-child as he hijacks history.
Toy Story 2
Better than the original? Just barely!
He’s the dad we all wanted, and the robot we all needed. He was robbed of an Oscar for this one.
Disney’s Catcher in the Rye
A new character was added to the dull and dreary story of Holden Caulfield, and who better to play Holden’s funny and lighthearted chauffeur than Hanks himself! Hanks’ character, Mr. Blythe, uttered the now-iconic line, “You keep Holden on to those dreams, Mr. Caulfield.” One of cinema’s most beautiful death scenes.
Slow Down, Vanessa!
He’s a nerdy helicopter pilot. She’s a college senior on Spring Break who wants to take a flying lesson. And we’re just along for the ride in this early entry into the Hanks oeuvre.
A Nightmare on Elm Street V: The Dream Child
Taking over the role of Freddy Krueger would be impossible…for anyone besides Mr. Hanks!
Turner and Hooch vs. Bill and Ted
Worlds collided in this little-seen gem from the early 90s. Some will say the talking dog effects don’t hold up, but it’s not without its charm.
Slumber Party Race
Tom Hanks co-stars in the hilarious comedy about a group of sleep over teens challenged with a race across the country. His role as Mr. Ludwig the science teacher grounds this otherwise silly, raunchy adventure.
Freedom: A Braveheart Story
Long before Mel Gibson made the role famous, Hanks stepped into the kilt of William Wallace and freed Scotland in this raunchy adventure.
The Shawshank Redemption
Can you even imagine this movie without Hanks?
Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan teamed up for the final time in this romantic movie about a single bartender who stumbles upon a diary written by his future, yet-to-be born daughter. How can that be?! Thanks to a little Christmas magic, anything is possible. Spoiler Alert: The daughter dies.
Calvin and Hobbes
Hanks tackled the role of Calvin’s father, and while he has only twenty minutes of screen time, he steals every moment!
What happens when a park ranger becomes trapped in the body of chimp? This happens.
Tom Hanks as a spy/dad who must travel through time or else. My favorite scene is when he’s playing a cowboy.
The Earth, Moon, and Me
There’s a scene early in this movie about a single father who dreams of being an astronaut in which Hanks looks through a telescope and weeps. So touching. And the songs are so catchy! This truly was the Hamilton of its day.
Tom Hanks brings his everyman charisma to the most important movie of his career.