10. The Terminal
Right from the starting gate, pun intended, we have the Terminal. Here, Hanks plays Viktor Navorski. A traveler from Krakozhia, who is visiting New York to get the autograph of his father’s favorite jazz performer. Hanks plays opposite Catherine Zeta-Jones. Their chemistry is lacking, and so is Hanks’s accent. It’s a poorly drawn accent, and for all of Hanks’s immense talent, morphing his voice based on dialect and origin still alludes him. The film, like most Spielberg pieces, is sappy. Nevertheless, there’s a magical charm hidden in the film. As Viktor opens the peanut can he’s been touting throughout the airport, and reveals to Jones’s character his true intentions in America, even the most cynical heart has to melt in the cold Krakozhia snow.
9. Catch Me if You Can
Catch Me if You Can is a hidden gem. You would think that a film starring Hanks, Leonardo DiCaprio, as a shifty cone artist, and Christopher Walken would be more recognized, especially when Spielberg is heading it. Nevertheless, Catch Me if You Can has mostly been regulated to TNT rerun status. In its current form, it may be becoming a type of Shawshank Redemption, that film that you have to watch the rest of no matter where it’s at in its run-time The movie is a classic cat-and-mouse game between John-Q law and the young rebellious criminal. The film also marks the beginning of a transitional stage for both actors, Hanks becoming an elder statesman and DiCaprio beginning a run that would culminate in an Oscar.
8. Captain Philips
Captain Philips can be characterized under the late career renaissance of Hanks’s career. I’ll personally never understand how he was not nominated for Best Actor (I probably would have subbed out Christian Bale’s performance in American Hustle). Much of the reason probably had to do with him being upstaged by his co-star, first time actor, Barkhad Abdi. His line, “Maybe in America” was a hallmark of the film. As him and Hanks try outwit each other, Hanks’s level of acting rises, culminating in his rescue scene. Upon Hanks’s rescue, he lets out a scream and yelp that is more guttural than any in his career.
7. Road to Perdition
When fans talk of great Tom Hanks films, Road to Perdition is so often overlooked. In fact, it may be his most forgotten film. More forgotten than The ‘Burbs. Featuring a cast of Hanks, Jude Law, Paul Newman, and a young Daniel Craig, it’s as heavyweight as heavyweight can get acting wise. Hanks plays Michael Sullivan, a gangster who’s son witnesses him commit murder. The film features Paul Newman’s last great performance on-screen, and his final Oscar nomination. While Hanks did not receive a nomination, he is understated as the mob affiliated father who’s just trying to protect his son.
6. Saving Private Ryan
The male tear jerking to top all male tear jerkers. It doesn’t get any better than Saving Private Ryan (Well there are five more spots on this list so I guess it does get better). Saving Private Ryan is also the beginning of the “We must save Matt Damon” franchise, possibly the most successful franchise in film history. In addition, it features what’s considered the most realistic D-Day scene on film. This was Hanks nearly at the top of his acting prowess, the undisputed best actor in Hollywood.
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