Tom Hanks thinks he’s only made four ‘pretty good’ movies. Which are they? – The Guardian

The actor said he sees only four of his films as better than the rest, requiring a deep dive into those he might be talking about
Tom Hanks has written a novel. The Making of Another Major Motion Picture Masterpiece, the full-length follow-up to 2017’s short story collection Uncommon Type, will be published next May. The novel apparently spans 80 years, and concerns a comic book that is eventually adapted into a movie. To accompany the announcement, Hanks released a brief statement, and it is quite profoundly Hanksy.
Not only does Hanks use the statement as proof that he knows his literary beans – at one point he literally quotes Hamlet – but he also pulls off the mother of all aw-shucks America’s Dad moves. “I’ve made a ton of movies (and four of them are pretty good, I think),” he writes, in what is almost definitely a demonstration of his famed everyman understatement. Unfortunately, however, it also shows that Tom Hanks isn’t very good at the internet.
“Tom Hanks: I’ve Only Made ‘Four Pretty Good’ Movies in Decades-Long Career”, barked out a recent Indiewire headline, which either made the mistake of missing the point or just really, really wanted some clicks. Because of course Tom Hanks has made more than four pretty good films. He’s Tom Hanks, for crying out loud. The man has had a decades-long hit rate that almost every other actor on Earth should be jealous of. He is a titan of a man. Plus he also made that new Pinocchio film, but perhaps we shouldn’t dwell on that.
But, hey, if the rest of the internet is at it, we might as well join in too. Let’s assume sincerity and choose to believe that Tom Hanks only likes four of his films. Time for some detective work.
One movie Hanks definitely isn’t referring to is 1985’s The Man with One Red Shoe. Simultaneously half-baked and overcooked, Hanks has made no secret of his disdain for Stan Dragoti’s spy thriller. As early as 1989 he was trashing it in the press, telling Playboy that it was “Not a very good movie. It doesn’t have any real, clear focus to it. It isn’t about anything particularly that you can honestly understand. It made no money at all.”
Nor is it The Bonfire of the Vanities, the Tom Wolfe adaptation that flopped hard in 1990. Two decades after it was released, Hanks discussed it with Empire, saying of it that “everybody was miscast, me particularly. Brian De Palma deals with iconography more than film-making. He is the most uncompromising film-maker, both in a good way and a bad way, that you’ll ever come across.”
We can also rule out Saving Private Ryan (Hanks told the Guardian that, scene by scene, his reaction to the film is “Horrible, terrible, should’ve done something else”) and Dragnet (he claims to be “repulsed and fascinated” by his rapping in the film). And obviously he doesn’t like his Da Vinci Code movies very much (“Yeah, those Robert Langdon sequels are hooey. The Da Vinci Code was hooey,” because he is a normal human being with a working brain.)
So let’s get to the good stuff. Tom Hanks has only made four pretty good films. What are they? Luckily, Hanks did us the decency of listing three of them on the Bill Simmons podcast last year. Those three were A League of Their Own (“Because all I did all summer was play baseball”), Castaway (“We just had bold adventures when we were making that movie”) and Cloud Atlas (“We shot it on a hope and a dream and nothing but a circle of love”).
It’s worth pointing out here that Hanks chose most of those films based on the experience of making them, rather than how they turned out. And then there’s Cloud Atlas. A notorious flop at the time, Tom Hanks appears to have dedicated his life to salvaging its reputation. In his 2017 Guardian interview, Hanks said of the film that it “altered my entire consciousness”, and is also “the only movie I’ve been in that I’ve seen more than twice”. It’s a noble campaign. More people should watch Cloud Atlas. It’s pretty great.
This just leaves one mysterious film. One film that Tom Hanks ranks above all others. My very solid guess is that it is That Thing You Do. Not only did Hanks write and direct it, as well as co-star in it, but it’s one of the movies he brings up most regularly. He discussed it extensively during his appearance on Connor Ratliff’s Dead Eyes podcast, and last year described it as the greatest working experience of his life.
Again, Tom Hanks has made far more than four good films, but the four listed above are probably his favourites. And do give Cloud Atlas another shot, you philistines.

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