The Trinity: Tom Hanks
Next up in "The Trinity" series (which I started with Paul Newman last week), I pick my top three Tom Hanks films. You can nominate an actor or actress by shooting an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or filling my mentions on Twitter. Without further ado, here are my three favorite Hanks films.
Catch Me if You Can (2002)
The film may be about Leonardo DiCaprio's Frank Abagnale Jr., but "Catch Me if You Can" doesn't work without Tom Hanks' tireless FBI agent Carl Hanratty. Hanks As An Exhausted Dad is a part he plays very well, and very often, especially in Steven Spielberg flicks, but it works perfectly here in part because he's a terrific foil to DiCaprio.
We get to see the quippier side of Hanks while still getting the full range of his acting ability. It's Spielberg at his best, in many ways, because he combines the brevity of the blockbuster with the genuine emotion that he's known for. Hanks is so good at toeing that line (in ways that Spielberg is, at least these days, less good at) and it pays off in spades here. It's not Hanks' most serious work, but it's arguably his most fun.
Toy Story 2 (1999)
"Guhhhh but you don't even see his face," you start to say before I throw you off a cliff, Scar-style. Let's be real, this is actually the best film Hanks has ever been in and is one of the best films of all time because it takes very real themes (loss, abandonment and the importance of friendship through it all) and applies them in a film that works for all ages.
Frankly, I had a hard time picking between the first and second film in the franchise here so let's just pretend I threw them both on here. The third film is also extremely solid, and even more heart-wrenching, but the second installment stands at the top of the heap for me. It may not be Hanks' best work as an actor, but it's very likely it'll stand as the best movie he'll ever perform in.
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Another Spielberg partnership, this one certainly stands as one of the most grim. Hanks digs deeper here than he does for nearly any performance before or since (yes, I know, "Road to Perdition" would like a word). It's a phenomenal film, and that's coming from someone who finds the war genre deeply tired at this point.
From the iconic opening scene to the dreary march deep behind enemy lines, just about everything in "Saving Private Ryan" works and Hanks' performance helps carry much of the film. Spielberg does very well with the material, and I'd be remiss to not mention cinematographer Janusz Kaminski; that Hanks stands out amidst all the spectacle is something of a miracle.
Honorable Mentions: Charlie Wilson's War, Road To Perdition