If there’s one actor working today that everybody loves, it’s Tom Hanks. He was my grandma’s favorite actor and he’s my second favorite (Robin Williams will always be my #1). The next film Tom Hanks will be appearing in is Elvis, but unfortunately some are considering it one of his worst roles; FandomWire’s Lead Film Critic, Joshua Ryan, weighed in on the performance in his review of Elvis, as well. Despite all of that, Tom Hanks has given us some truly incredible performances over his career. These are the ones I would consider his Top Five Roles of all time:
5. Josh Baskin in Big (STARZ or VOD)
This was the role that not only got Tom Hanks his first Oscar nomination, but turned him into a movie star. Hanks is able to perfectly capture what it would be like for a child to age twenty years overnight. He has wonderful chemistry with everyone he has screen time with, especially Robert Loggia for the FAO Schwarz piano scene; it doesn’t get more wholesome than that.
4. Richard Phillips in Captain Phillips (STARZ or VOD)
I will never understand to this day how Tom Hanks was not nominated for Best Actor for this role. While this may be a very memed movie (from “I am the captain now” to “Don’t travel with Tom Hanks”), the performance that Hanks gives of a man who is doing everything he can to stay alive in a hostage situation is incredible; the scene where he has a breakdown after he is rescued should have been enough for a nomination alone.
3. Chuck Noland in Cast Away (Hulu or Prime Video)
I watched this movie for the first time during my last semester of high school (I finally started making use of the library to check out DVDs). I had heard of Cast Away before, but I was completely blown away by the one man show Tom Hanks gives us. He makes us heartbroken over the loss of a volleyball, which is not an easy thing to accomplish. He was rightfully nominated for Best Actor, but sadly lost that year to Russell Crowe in Gladiator. While it didn’t win the gold, it’s a truly golden performance from Tom Hanks.
2. Forrest Gump in Forrest Gump (Hulu, Netflix, and Paramount+)
Tom Hanks became the second actor to win back to back Best Actor awards with this performance (Spencer Tracy was the first in the 1930s). While the film as a whole isn’t perfect, it has some truly memorable quotes and scenes, as well as supporting performances from Robin Wright, Sally Field, and Gary Sinise. Tom Hanks is our anchor though as a man with an IQ of 75 who goes on an incredible journey in history that ultimately leads him to the love of his life.
1. Andrew Beckett in Philadelphia (Prime Video)
There’s a reason Tom Hanks won his first Best Actor for this role, and it isn’t talked about nearly as much as Forrest Gump. In the film, Hanks plays a closeted homosexual man who is diagonosed with AIDS and is fired from his job at a law firm because of it. He hires Joe Miller to defend him in court (played brilliantly by Denzel Washington) and what transpires throughout the film is incredibly powerful. I will never forget watching Hanks slow dance to Rachmaninoff while dictating the story of the piece to Washington for the first time; it’s something you have to see to believe.