Top 12 Must Watch Movies of Tom Hanks – Recommended List

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Tom Hanks Best Movies
Tom Hanks

The American cultural icon, Thomas Jeffrey Hanks, known by his stage name, Tom Hanks, is one of the most famous and recognizable movie stars ever known globally. Throughout the years, this multiple Oscar-winning actor is a lot more than just a film star— a kind, sweet and loving person who acts as an inspiration to many others. He debuted with the 1980 film, ‘He Knows You’re Alone’ as a supporting member, but got his big break in 1984 movie, ‘Splash’ and since then, there was no point turning back for him as he continued to surprise us with a variety of movies although most of them were rom-com.

Here is a list of top 12 movies of Tom Hanks, such movies that not only has been loved by the spectators but also have turned out to be the milestones of his career.

12. A-League Of Their Own

One of the most important movies for his career, ‘A League Of Their Own’ features an All-American team of girls who are trained by Jimmy Dugan (Tom Hanks) to transform from a group of amateur women in baseball to professionals and eventually to the victors. The story is set during the second world war and casts Lori Petty as Kit, Geena Davis as Dottie, Madonna as Mae, and Rosie O’Donnell as Dori in lead roles.
The movie consists of one of his most memorable dialogue— “There is no crying in baseball!” and sets his foundation in the film industry. In this movie, he has been portrayed as a rough and tough man which is one of the rare personalities that he has played on-screen. Directed by Penny Marshall, the movie was released on July 1, 1992, in Canada.

11. Splash

Directed by Ron Howard, the movie is the first romantic comedy where Tom Hanks is In the lead. The movie centers a young man, Allen Bauer, who accidentally falls into the water only to be rescued by a mysterious woman who turns out to be a mermaid and later loses his heart to her. Starring Daryl Hannah as Madison, the mermaid, the movie casts other actors including John Candy as Freddie Bauer and Eugene Levy as Dr. Walter Kornbluth in lead. Not known by many, but Hanks had originally auditioned to be cast as one of the supporting members of the movie which was later played by John Candy.

The movie earned the nomination for the Academy Award for the Best Original Screenplay, which was done by Lowell Ganz, Babaloo Mandel, and Bruce Jay Friedman. Released on March 9, 1984, the viewers loved the chemistry between Hanks and Hannah, with a mild tint of humor, fantasy, and comedy.


10. Cast Away

Directed by Robert Zemeckis, the American survival drama movie, ‘Cast Away’ was released on December 7, 2000, in the USA. Through his character as Chuck Noland, who was a FedEx employee grounded on an isolated isle for a duration of four years, the actor delivered a mind-blowing performance. The movie follows Hanks’ struggles to survive on the island and gradually returning home.

With a film not been supported by a lot of fight scenes or notable explosions, what carried it forward is the undenying charm and acting skills of Hanks that showcases the feeling of boldness and hope, both physically and mentally, without losing the tinge of absolute isolation. The movie brought to him the Oscar nomination of the Best Actor in a Leading Role for the fifth time.

9. Catch Me If You Can

Directed and produced by Steven Spielberg, the biographical crime film, ‘Catch Me If You Can’ casts Tom Hanks along with Leonardo DiCaprio who plays the role of Carl Hanratty and Frank Abagnale respectively. The movie follows Frank as a skillful fraud artist who excels in playing a number of roles, like that of a doctor and pilot, and who earns the attention of an FBI agent, Carl Hanratty, played by Hanks, by getting involved in check shamming. Carl was determined to hunt the man until he catches him finally. The movie might not have brought in a lot of awards, or appreciation, but what makes the movie worth watching is the overwhelming performance of the lead actors, showcasing the exciting life of Frank. The movie was released on Christmas of 2002.


8. Forrest Gump

One of the most notable as well as quoted characters of Tom Hanks, the movie, ‘Forrest Gump’ stars the actor as a moronic but tender-hearted person from Alabama, who unknowingly influences historical events in the 20th century, of the United States, making a grave presence in people’s lives. Inspired by the 1986 novel of Winston Groom, going by the same name, the movie is a comedy-drama film, that is loved by all because of its pure and innocent theme and sincerity of Hanks towards the character. The film brought in the Academy Award to Hanks for the best actor, and Oscar awards for Best Director, Best Picture, and Best Adapted Screenplay. Directed by Robert Zemeckis, the film debuted on June 23, 1994, in Los Angeles and on July 6, 1994, in the United States.


7. You’ve Got Mail

Starring Meg Ryan as Kathleen Kelly and Tom Hanks as Joe Fox as the lead, the American rom-com, released on December 18, 1998, in the USA, follows the story of two rival bookshop owners, who, at first hate, each other, but gradually falls in love, not only over the internet but also in real life. Kathleen is the owner of an independent bookshop, while Joe is a possessor of a leading franchise that aims at running firms as Kathleen’s out of the corner. The movie is the third collaboration of Hanks with Meg Ryan, and the pair is famous for their dynamic chemistry that is seen on-screen. Directed by Nora Ephron, the film brings out the necessity of online dating which is effective even after 20 years since the film debuted.

ALSO READ – 15 Best Harrison Ford Movies You Need To Watch


6. Captain Phillips

Inspired by the true events of 2009’s Maersk Alabama hijacking, the film features Captain Richard Phillips, who tries to save himself as well as the entire crew from a group of pirates, who take them under captivity. The film is a perfect balance of high-degree action combined with a profound take on human emotions. In the film, the protagonist embraces all the anxiety and fright that comes along with a person in danger, in order to protect the lives of others. The movie was a box-office hit and gained six Academy Award nominations, which includes the Best Picture and the Best Supporting Actor for the character, Abduwali Muse, played by Barkhad Abdi. Directed by Paul Greengrass, along with a screenplay by Billy Ray, the biographical drama-thriller debuted on September 27, 2013, in NYFF and on October 11, 2013, in the United States.


5. Toy Story

How can this one not be on the list when we are talking about Tom Hanks? One of the most dynamic as well as an entertaining movie of all time, ‘Toy Story’ is an animated comedy film that stars Tom Hanks as Woody, who is a pull-string rancher figure and Andy’s most-loved toy, and other toys played by Tim Allen, John Ratzenberger, Wallace Shawn, Don Rickles, Jim Varney, and others. Woody is Andy’s favorite until a space ranger action toy, Buzz Lightyear, played by Tim Allen, comes in and becomes Woody’s rival only to end up being best friends to each other. First released on November 22, 1995, in the United States, the film gave access to three other sequels and gathered the love and fame of the millions. Directed by Josh Cooley, Toy Story is produced by Pixar Animation Studios under the studio of Walt Disney Pictures.


4. Saving Private Ryan

The American epic war movie where Steven Spielberg serves as the director, serving as the first joint venture of Hanks with him, aims at locating Private Ryan, played by Matt Damon, with the help of Captain John Miller, played by Tom Hanks, along with his team. Set in the second world war, the movie has been praised by the critics as well as the fans equally for its practical sketches of the violence and destruction that lands along with wars. ‘Saving Private Ryan’ portrays the actor as someone who can guide through all the obstacles and pave the way to home, sacrificing his own self.

The movie earned a number of Academy Award nominations winning, Best Picture Award and Best Director Award out of a total of eleven. Steven Spielberg won the Oscar Award for the Best Director while Tom Hanks was nominated in the category of the Best Actor. The movie debuted on July 24, 1998, and starred Edward Burns, Matt Damon, and Tom Sizemore in lead roles.


3. Big

The movie is an American fantasy comedy-drama that casts Tom Hanks as the adult Josh Baskin who dreams to become big, as a child, played by David Moscow. His wish gets fulfilled and he turns into his 30-year old self and tries to enjoy his life to the fullest, playing games, having fun, but soon realizes the struggles of being an adult who is under stress 24/7 and thus, decides to find a way back to his childhood.
The piano dance from the movie has remained a classic one to date. The film is an act to make people understand that no matter what, each and every stage of life has its own beauty and one must not try to skip it or lure over the other stages while ruining the current stage. The challenges and struggles of being an adult as well as being a child are vividly showcased in the movie. Directed by Penny Marshall, the movie, ‘Big’ was released on June 3, 1988.


2. Apollo 13

Inspired by the1994 book, titled, ‘Lost Moon: The Perilous Voyage of Apollo 13’ written by Jim Lovell and Jeffrey Kluger, the movie is an American space docudrama, that presents the 1970 NASA mission to land on the moon and the struggles related to it. The mission was aborted due to the insufficient supply of oxygen and electricity and eventually aimed at bringing the stuck astronauts back from the space safely. Playing the role of Commander Jim Lovell, the movie undoubtedly presents one of the best versions of Hanks depicting the theme that astronauts are more humans than gods and they are reluctant to face failures.
Directed by Ron Howard, the movie debuted on June 22, 1995, in the US.


1. Philadelphia

The film brings out the most powerful, influencing, and dramatic side of Tom Hanks as he plays the role of a man diagnosed with AIDS, Andrew Beckett, along with Denzel Washington as Joe Miller. In this movie, Beckett is fired from his organization because of his sexuality as well as his disease, while Miller as a lawyer, takes his case against the organization. During the course of their work, the two men understand each other and in spite of the difference in thinking, they established mutual respect and admiration for each other.
Through the movie, the actor brings into limelight the treatment that many people, in reality, have to face who suffer from such a situation. The movie proved to be a turning point in Hanks’ career as it brought him his first Academy Award for the category of the Best Actor. Directed by Jonathan Demme, the movie had hit the theaters on December 22, 1993, in the US.


About The Author

  • Aanchal Shaw

    Hey! Aanchal here. Most of the days you will find me covering listicles on American TV Series and movies, Korean dramas and anime content. An engineer in making, I live in the City of Joy. Love to travel and explore new places. You can reach out to me at

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