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Top 10 Tom Hanks Performances

VO: Rebecca Brayton
This acclaimed actor has rarely appeared in anything other than a memorable or award winning film. He has played everything from a women's baseball coach, to an astronaut, kid stuck in a man's body, simpleton and soldier. Just to keep things real, we won’t be including his animated adventures and sticking to live movie projects. Join as we count down our Top 10 favorite Tom Hanks performances.

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Top 10 Tom Hanks Performances

This Oscar-winning actor has given life to more than his fair share of memorable characters. Welcome to, and today we’ll be counting down our top 10 favorite Tom Hanks performances.

Just to keep things real, we’ll be sticking to on-camera performances, so Hanks’ animated adventures as Woody in the “Toy Story” series don’t make the cut.

#10 – Jimmy Dugan: “A League of Their Own” (1992)

Kicking off our list is Hanks’ role as a former baseball star turned women’s league coach during World War II. Director Penny Marshall cited this as his first performance as a “real” character, as Dugan is a deep and rounded personality. Hanks steals the show from the ladies with his constant tobacco chewing, hilarious attitude, and consistent failure to handle female players.

#9 – Charlie Wilson: “Charlie Wilson’s War” (2007)

In this based-on-true-story film, Hanks plays the Texas congressman who lobbied to support of Afghanistan against the Soviet Union, and inadvertently helped spark the growth of radical Islam. Hanks manages not only to portray Wilson as a serious government official and proficient backroom negotiator, he also showcases the politician’s party-loving bachelor side. Few could pull off the intelligence and charisma that Hanks brings to the table.

#8 – Allan Bauer: “Splash” (1984)

This is literally a “fish out of water” comedy! In his breakthrough movie role, Hanks plays a successful businessman who is pining for his dream girl. We get an early glimpse of his comedic talent, and his uncanny ability to bring heart to any bizarre scenario. His scenes with Daryl Hannah are unforgettable, but equally memorable are his hilarious lines opposite John Candy.

#7- Sam Baldwin: (Sleepless in Seattle, 1993)

In his heyday, Hanks found success with romantic comedy roles, and his partnership with Meg Ryan produced several films. “Sleepless” sees Hanks heartbreakingly portray a man in search of a fresh start after losing his wife to cancer. Aside from the romcom clichés, and the fact that the stars barely share screen time, this film proves Hanks’ likeability and marketability as a romantic leading man.

#6 – Chuck Noland: “Cast Away” (1999)

Who’s ready to experience two hours of Tom Hanks and not much else? Regardless of your answer, Hanks delivers a compelling and stripped-down performance as a workaholic FedEx employee who quickly learns what really matters after his plane crash-lands near a remote island. Hanks intense physical and emotional performance earned him a Golden Globe, and even managed to make us shed a tear for a volleyball.

#5 – Jim Lovell: “Apollo 13” (1995)

As real-life astronaut Jim Lovell, Hanks helps dramatize the ill-fated moon-landing mission of 1970. After the shuttle loses electric power and oxygen, the goal changes from walking on the moon to getting home alive. This film works for many reasons, but chief among them is Hanks’ tough, yet sensitive performance that keeps audiences hoping for his safe return.

#4 – Captain John H. Miller: “Saving Private Ryan” (1998)

In one of the most brutally graphic war films ever, Hanks plays a traumatized soldier who must act decisively on the battlefield. Hanks’ Captain Miller depicts the unspeakable heroism of an ordinary soldier tasked with following impossible orders: Just watch as he shows us how hard it is to keep your head while fighting behind enemy lines.

#3 – Josh Baskin: “Big” (1988)

This is the charming blockbuster fantasy film role that took Hanks’ career to the next level, showcased his potential and talent, and even earned him an Oscar nomination in the process. Hanks believably transforms into a twelve-year-old boy stuck in a man’s body by capturing the mental and physical details of the role: that means he hates caviar, incessantly fidgets, and enthusiastically goes to town on a giant keyboard.

#2 – Andrew Beckett: “Philadelphia” (1993)

Prior to this film, no major Hollywood production had tackled this taboo subject, and for his work as a persecuted homosexual lawyer with AIDS, Hanks won his first Oscar. Not only did his emotional and compelling performance boost AIDS awareness, it also increased sympathy for those infected with the disease as the actor successfully transitioned from comedy to drama.

#1 – Forrest Gump: “Forrest Gump” (1994)

Taking the top spot on our list is Hanks’ deeply moving, Oscar-winning role as a simple man who goes on a thirty-year odyssey through a turbulent era of American history. While he blends the comic with the tragic, Hanks helps us see the world through the hopeful eyes of a man in search of happiness and his piece of the American dream. The movie might have resolutely split critics, but there’s no denying Hanks power as this charmed simpleton.

Do you agree with our list? Which Tom Hanks performance is your favorite? For more entertaining Top 10s, be sure to subscribe to

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