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The 15 Best Tom Hanks Movies, from ‘Cast Away’ to ‘Toy Story’ to ‘Big’

Ahead of Disney+'s "Pinocchio," IndieWire's guide to Tom Hanks' most memorable characters and lines, including: "You are a child's play thing," "Houston, we have a problem," and "There's no crying in baseball!"

The Best Tom Hanks Movies

The Best Tom Hanks Movies, Ranked.

Everett Collection

Take a gander at the last 40 years of cinema, and you’ll find at least one universal truth: The people love Tom Hanks.

The 66-year-old actor is known around Hollywood and the world as an affable everyman, with as much capacity for heady drama as he has a knack for quippy comedy. Hanks’ most famous roles range from the light and whimsical (see flicks like “Money Pit,” “Turner & Hooch,” and “Larry Crowne”) to the darkly complex (“The Green Mile,” “Charlie Wilson’s War,” and “The Post”). He’s also responsible for delivering lines in some of cinema’s most quotable movies, including “A League of Their Own” (“There’s no crying in baseball!”) and “Apollo 13” (“Houston, we have a problem”).

Hanks cut his teeth as a stage actor, performing Shakespeare and other plays in his hometown of Lakewood, California for much of the late ’70s. At 24-years-old, Hanks made his first movie appearance as a flirty jogger in the slasher “He Knows You’re Alone” before starring opposite Daryl Hannah in Ron Howard’s romantic comedy “Splash” four years later (which ranks at No. 3 on IndieWire’s guide to the best mermaid movies).

Hanks was known for his rom-coms for some time, famously pairing up with Meg Ryan for both “Sleepless in Seattle” and “You’ve Got Mail.” His broader comedies were similarly well-received, with “Toy Story” becoming a franchise (to which Hanks’ voice remains essential) and “Big” snagging the actor his first Oscar nomination (for his performance as a 12-year-old trapped in an adult’s body).

That said, the best Tom Hanks roles have largely been dramatic. “Philadelphia” would earn Hanks his first Academy Award for Best Actor in 1994. He’d immediately follow it up with a second Best Actor win for “Forrest Gump” in 1995. Teaming up with director Steven Spielberg for “Saving Private Ryan,” Hanks was nominated again in 1999. The actor topped off his turn of the century success streak with one more nomination for Robert Zemeckis’ 2000 survival epic “Cast Away.” Hanks wouldn’t be honored by the Academy again until 2020, when he played beloved children’s show host Mr. Rogers in “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.”

Following Hanks’ performance in Baz Luhrmann’s “Elvis” and ahead of the actor’s reunion with Zemeckis for the live-action “Pinocchio” on Disney+ September 8, here are the 15 best Tom Hanks movies of all time. Plus: A list of his characters’ best lines from those titles.

Note: For the purpose of this ranking, the ‘Toy Story’ franchise has been regarded as a single body of work.

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