If there is any name in Hollywood that everyone knows and almost everyone loves, it would have to be Tom Hanks. He has been endearingly called a national treasure and with good reason.
The man is likely to photobomb people taking wedding photos and send his friends and family his favorite item — a typewriter. There seems to be nothing Tom Hanks can do to make us hate him.
His acting accolades are numerous, and everyone you meet has a film of his that they love beyond reason — some even have multiple. That is because a Tom Hanks film can never truly miss.
Throughout 2022 I challenged myself to watch all of Tom Hanks films — there are over 60 available to be found on streaming.
In order by release date, here are my picks for The 20 Best Tom Hanks Films of All Time.
1. Bachelor Party (1984)
In the early years of his career, Tom Hanks was type-casted as the happy, go-lucky, naive, sometimes foolish, unassuming male role. A vast majority of his films in the 80s could be described as comedies where his character is the centerpiece to many a ridiculous situation.
That is exactly what happens on Bachelor Party, which is one of his earliest films. Tom Hanks plays the unassuming nice guy, Rick, who is about to get married to the love of his life, Debbie. Rick’s friends decide that what he needs is a good, old-fashioned night of true bachelorhood — sex, drugs, and immaturity.
What makes this film so fun, despite its totally 80s style is that Rick never changes who he is at his core. Even as he’s participating in his friends’ antics, he’s really thinking about Debbie and how much he loves her.
There is something so pure and funny about Rick’s journey to his wedding day.
2. The Man With One Red Shoe (1985)
The great thing about The Man With One Red Shoe is that it continues Tom Hanks’ typecasting as a naive, well-liked young man in a fun, unexpected story.
Once again, Tom Hanks plays a man named Richard, only this time he is a kind violinist who is randomly picked out as a CIA target because he decides to wear one red shoe. This makes for a series of misadventures as Richard gets caught in the crossfire of two feuding CIA agents as they mistakenly surveil him.
This film has so many acting greats such as Dabney Coleman, Charles Durning, Lori Singer, Jim Belushi, and Carrie Fisher who add to the multiple laughs as Richard’s life gets more and more complicated.
No matter how many ridiculous occurrences start to happen in Richard’s life, he never once stops to think that maybe something bigger is going on. He just assumes his life has hit a rough patch — which makes this film beyond fun.
3. Punchline (1988)
Probably one of Tom Hanks’ lesser-known films from his first decade in Hollywood, Punchline allows both a younger Sally Field and Tom Hanks to stretch their acting chops.
This film centers on Fields’ Lilah Krytsick, a bored housewife, as she tries to find her way through the standup world until she meets Hanks’ Steven Gold who has dropped out of medical school to pursue his true passion — unknown to his father. The two become close and work to help each other gain the fame they seek.
It’s a heartwarming film that shows just how much onscreen chemistry Hanks and Fields have years before coming together for Forrest Gump.
Even though this film centers on the standup world and has a few comedic moments, it’s the heartfelt friendship and family moments that make this film worth checking out.
4. Turner & Hooch (1989)
One of the handful of films fans will reference when asked about their favorite Hanks performance is Turner & Hooch. And with good reason considering how many laughs and warm fuzzy feelings this comedy gives the audience.
Hanks does a fantastic job of taking charge of a story that relies heavily on his chemistry with his costar — a large, drooly dog named Hooch. The reluctant partnership between Detective Scott Turner and Hooch makes this film go above and beyond any other film in the crime dramedy category.
Turner might be looking for a quick resolution to get himself out of town and on to better things, but his actions to prevent Hooch from being “put down” prove his heart truly is in the right place. The journey Turner and Hooch go on toward a loving bond is what makes this film stand the test of time.
Scott Turner’s adventures with Hooch recently got a one-season reboot on Disney+ with a series starring Josh Peck as Turner’s son who has inherited the dog, further cementing this film’s legacy.
5. A League of Their Own (1992)
Recently one of Tom Hanks’ beloved classics has gotten a resurgence in popularity due to Prime Video’s series, A League of Their Own. While the show stands on its own and only takes broad strokes from the film, it proves why this movie has remained a favorite across the decades.
Breaking out of his nice guy image, Tom Hanks takes on the role of a washed-up baseball player who has a drinking and attitude problem. It’s a refreshing break out of his usual mold and one of the earliest examples of his broad range as an actor.
Dugan isn’t the boy next door like all of Tom’s other roles to this point, but he still makes a splash despite his negativity and red-flag behaviors. It’s actually the chemistry between Hanks and the whole cast of dynamic women that makes this film a tribute to the tenacity of women in sports.
6. Sleepless in Seattle (1993)
In the 90s, no two rom-com legends were greater than Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. Their first romp together is in a film where they don’t actually come in physical contact with one another until the final moments.
Sleepless in Seattle is one of the films every romance lover references when listing off the best within the genre — and I agree. After all, how is it possible for two actors/characters to have undeniable chemistry without more than a few phone calls or radio callouts?
Somehow, Hanks and Ryan sell us on their epic love story with their charming and relatable characters. As someone who doesn’t always believe in love, this one has me believing that somewhere out there is the perfect person for me.
Even in a world where the internet brings people together this pre-digital love story manages to capture our hearts.
7. Philadelphia (1993)
Early in his career, Tom Hanks wasn’t much known for serious roles. This is part of the reason Philadelphia makes such a deep impact on even his biggest fans.
It’s the first time we get to see Hanks take on a role that has no comedy involved. Andrew Beckett is a character whose journey breaks our hearts more and more as the film progresses.
Even still, the role is one that needs to be recognized for what it is — a very real depiction of AIDS during a time when it was still a fairly taboo subject. The reason this film still holds up — aside from the insane acting talents of Denzel Washington and Hanks — is that the story is one that can still be relatable within the queer community.
Andrew Beckett teaches newer viewers the history of the queer community and just how much of an impact AIDS had and still has on the world.
8. Toy Story (1995)
There’s a snake in my boot!
Anyone who grew up in the 90s knows that line by heart and will often reference it when talking of films from their childhood. Somehow the film about toys that come to life has continued to make waves for newer generations of Disney fans.
Toy Story is one of the most iconic Tom Hanks films where his face is never actually seen. This role relies solely on his voice talents which gives him even more credit to his name as a well-rounded actor.
Woody has become a beloved character because Hanks’ warmth and charm come shining through with his delivery of the character’s most iconic lines. Children the world over know who Woody is and are a fan of him — even without knowing Tom Hanks provides his voice.
9. That Thing You Do! (1996)
It’s hard to believe that a Tom Hanks film that doesn’t completely center on Hanks’ character would be popular, but That Thing You Do! is one such film.
What makes this musical film great isn’t even Tom Hanks’ performance, though it is phenomenal, it’s the easy chemistry between the band members who make up the remainder of the cast. This film is a fun romp not only because of the profound comedic timing of the whole cast but also their catchy tunes.
If you haven’t seen this film yet, you need to if nothing more than it will bring 2 and a half hours of pure sunshine into your life. These young men are chasing fame while desperately trying to hold onto their “normal life” in a way that pulls at your heart and has you rooting for them from start to finish.
And if that’s not enough to sell you, just look at the cast of talents; you won’t want to miss it.
10. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
War films are their own genre that will never die because there are nearly a hundred different ways filmmakers can tell the story of various wars throughout the world. World War II films are probably one of the most prevalent within this genre, one of the most popular being Saving Private Ryan.
The reason this film is appreciated across the board by many types of film viewers is for its attention to the human nature of war, not just the war itself. From start to finish we fall in love with all these characters and cry when some of them inevitably die.
Tom Hanks’ performance on this film gives audiences an inside look into the type of man he is outside of acting. There is no way Captain Miller’s leadership skills aren’t a part of the actor’s actual personality.
No one will ever forget Tom Hanks’ final words to Matt Damon’s Private Ryan, “Earn this! Earn it!”
11. You’ve Got Mail (1998)
Every single list of favorite rom-com films has You’ve Got Mail because it is a love story that is timeless and wins over even the coldest, most cynical of hearts. Who wouldn’t want to find love in the words of a secret pen pal who is actually your business rival?
Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan teamed up once more as enemies turned friends and then lovers for this heartwarming story centered on the literary world. It’s a true David and Goliath but with independent bookstores vs big-name franchises.
The chemistry these two actors have continues to win us over time and time again because they represent the average person trying to find love and happiness in a corporate world of disappointment. When we are feeling lonely and depressed, a run-through of this film will have us believe in the beauty of the world.
After all, who doesn’t remember the days of hearing “You’ve got mail!” and the excitement it would bring?
12. The Green Mile (1999)
What do you get when you pair up Sam Rockwell, Tom Hanks, and Michael Clarke Duncan? You get a beautiful allegory for faith entitled The Green Mile.
Duncan’s gentle giant, Coffey rises above the racism and bigotry of the day to kindly teach Hanks’ Edgecombe that you can’t judge a book by its cover. Sometimes the least unnerving or the most unassuming people are the most dangerous.
The way these three men take a Stephen King story and make it jump off the page in ways that are beyond words cannot be understated. Audiences still talk about this film to this day because of the way it makes us feel, think, and learn.
There were no real winners within this story, but we all walk away slightly better than we were before viewing.
13. Road to Perdition (2002)
One of the biggest surprises during my film watch challenge was Road to Perdition. I wholeheartedly expected to leave the film unimpressed.
The way this film is a mafia film that doesn’t feel like a mafia film — despite all the shooting and gangster activity — is what helps it stand out even to this day. In the end, the film is about a father and his son as they try to escape the mistakes the father has made.
It’s a tale of redemption, revenge, and forgiveness that keeps us hooked from the beginning. It’s also one of the first films where Tom Hanks’ fatherly nature really shines through.
The talent of Hanks is strongly supported by that of Tyler Hoechlin who plays his young son.
14. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (2011)
Even now, more than 20 years later, the effects of 9/11 are still emotionally raw. Therefore, anyone who watches Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close gets hit hard with the heartbreak surrounding our many questions about that day.
Through the eyes of a young child, this tragedy is hard on its own; when it’s through the eyes of a child who doesn’t have the proper social skills to express that pain everything takes on an even more heartbreaking note. What stands out about this film is the essence of Tom Hanks’ performance even when he’s not onscreen.
Playing the role of a father allows Hanks’ “America’s Dad” persona to really shine and we feel the loss of Oskar’s father as if he is our own. The journey this young child goes on to become more socially confident in the face of his grief is what endears us to rewatch this tragic story.
We all know the pain of grief, but it’s Oskar’s unfailing optimism in the face of it that reminds us we aren’t alone.
15. A Hologram for the King (2016)
A Hologram for the King is probably Tom Hanks’ most unknown role. Going into this challenge, I had never even heard of it and couldn’t find too many reviews of it from others either.
This film follows Alan Clay as he travels to Saudi Arabia to sell his company’s product to a monarch there in the hopes it will get him out of his sales slump. What he doesn’t bank on is the life journey he will go on to discover himself and what he truly desires.
It’s a beautiful film that has many unknown faces who strongly support Hanks to round out a tale of growth and redemption. There is an underlying love story that people don’t expect which Clay discovers when he learns to love himself first.
This film is proof positive that Tom Hanks can shine in just about any role they put him in.
16. Sully (2016)
As someone who distinctly remembers the day a flight landed in the Hudson River, I was intrigued to watch the film that depicts the pilot who managed it all.
This film stands out not because of the Hudson River event but because of how challenged this pilot’s life became in the aftermath. It gives insight into how heroes are sometimes made out to be villains when legal is trying to find a scapegoat.
No matter what Sullivan tells the investigators they try to blame his drinking, exhaustion, and even breaking protocol in order to keep him from becoming too sensationalized. Especially because the powers that be felt he broke the rules.
Tom Hanks’ performance as this man who stays cool under pressure gives us even more admiration for the man, the myth, and the legend that Sullivan has become.
17. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2019)
Who is more of a national treasure than Tom Hanks? The indelible Mr. Frank Rogers that’s who.
This is why A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is so legendary — we get one national treasure portrayed by another. No one else could truly encompass all that is Mr. Rogers better than Tom Hanks.
What’s even more beautiful about this story is that it’s not about Mr. Rogers but in fact his impact on another man entirely, a journalist played by Matthew Rhys. The father/son type camaraderie between these two characters makes the story one viewers won’t soon forget.
And it further cements Tom Hanks as a lovable icon in our hearts.
18. Greyhound (2020)
Another war film to make this list, Greyhound stands out because of the work Tom Hanks put in to make this film happen. It shows the world just how much of a history buff the actor is and how important these smaller stories are to him.
Tom Hanks plays U.S. Navy Commander Ernest Krause as he leads his first-ever wartime mission to get a convoy across the ocean while being pursued by German U-Boats. It’s a tale of heroism, courage, and perseverance that viewers desperately needed during 2020 as our world seemed to be falling apart.
Of course, Hanks would be leading the charge to encourage our faith in better days to come and that we could all survive the unthinkable. It’s one of those times that the film goes beyond the story it tells to influence the lives of audiences.
The edge-of-your-seat drama of this film is what helps it continue to stand out amongst his career highlights, but it’s the heart and soul Hanks brought to the project overall that puts it on this list.
19. News of the World (2020)
As Tom Hanks has aged, he has started to take on more fatherly/grandfatherly roles. One of the strongest ones to date comes from News of the World. During this film, his character grows more and more kind and willing to take risks to protect someone he loves.
Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd first meets Johanna — who has been rescued from her Kiowa captors — while he travels the country giving poorer folks the news of the world. He agrees to take her back to her family only because he could use the money.
It’s the bond that grows and flourishes between Kidd and Johanna that makes us want to revisit this film time and time again. By the end, Johanna is referring to Kidd as Kontah (the Kiowa word for grandfather).
It’s one of the few films where audiences can’t separate the character from the man because Tom Hanks simply gets to play himself in a different era.
20. A Man Called Otto (2022)
The story of Otto appears as though it’s meant to be a tragic one considering it starts around the time he’s decided to commit suicide. Instead, it evokes emotions centered on love and compassion.
A Man Called Otto gives Tom Hanks the opportunity to play the crotchety old man who lives inside all of our brains from time to time. His interactions with his new neighbors and the community around him are both funny and relatable.
Much like many films that center on grouchy older people, the warmth and love of persistent neighbors worm their way into both Otto’s and the viewer’s hearts. It creates a new outlook on life for our man Otto and has us believing that love will always save us.
Tom Hanks has us wanting to seek out the older folks in our neighborhoods to give them a dose of our hearts.
We couldn’t fit all of Tom Hanks’ films on this list, so which ones are your favorites? Let us know in the comments!