Tom Hanks believes he has only made four ‘pretty good’ movies. Which ones are they? | Tom Hanks

Twhether 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 deals with a cartoon that is eventually adapted into a film. To accompany the announcement, Hanks released a brief statement, and it’s quite profoundly Hanksy.

Not only does Hanks use the statement as proof that he knows his literary chops—at one point he literally quotes Hamlet—but he also pulls 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 certainly a demonstration of his famous everyman understatement. Unfortunately, however, it also shows that Tom Hanks is not very good with the internet.

“Tom Hanks: I’ve Only Made ‘Fire Pretty Good’ Movies in Decades-Long Career,” barked a recent Indiewire headline that 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 movies. 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. In addition, he also made the new Pinocchio film, but we may not dwell on that.

But hey, if the rest of the internet is up to it, we might as well join in. Let’s assume sincerity and choose to believe that Tom Hanks only likes four of his movies. Time for some detective work.

Tom Hanks and James Belushi in The Man with One Red Shoe
Hanks and James Belushi in The Man with One Red Shoe. Photo: Cinetext Collection/Sportsphoto/Allstar

One film that Hanks certainly does not refer to is 1985’s The Man with One Red Shoe. He has made no secret of his disdain for Stan Dragoti’s at once half-baked and overcooked spy thrillers. As early as 1989, he blasted it to the press, telling Playboy that it was “Not a very good movie. It doesn’t have any real, clear focus to it. It’s not about anything in particular that you can honestly understand. It gave no money at all.”

Nor is The Bonfire of the Vanities, the Tom Wolfe adaptation that flopped hard in 1990. Two decades after its release, Hanks discussed it with Empire, saying of it that “everyone was miscast, especially me. Brian De Palma concerned with iconography more than filmmaking. He is the most uncompromising filmmaker, in both good and bad ways, that you will ever come across.”

We can also rule out Saving Private Ryan (Hanks told the Guardian that scene by scene his reaction to the film was “Terrible, terrible, should have done something else”) and Dragnet (he claims to be “repulsed and fascinated” by his rap in the movie). And apparently he doesn’t like his Da Vinci Code movies that much (“Yeah, those Robert Langdon sequels are hooey. The Da Vinci Code was hooey,” because he’s a normal human with a functioning brain.)

So let’s get to the good stuff. Tom Hanks has only made four pretty good movies. What are they? Luckily, Hanks did us the decency to list three of them on 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 wild adventures when we made that movie”), and Cloud Atlas (“We shot it on a hope and a dream and nothing but a circle of love”).

Hanks with Jim Broadbent in Cloud Atlas.
Hanks with Jim Broadbent in Cloud Atlas. Photo: Warner Bros/Sportsphoto/Allstar

It’s worth pointing out here that Hanks chose most of these films based on the experience of making them, rather than how they turned out. And then there’s Cloud Atlas. Tom Hanks, a notorious flop at the time, seems to have devoted his life to saving its reputation. In his 2017 Guardian interview, Hanks said of the film that it “changed my whole consciousness” and that it is also “the only film I’ve been in that I’ve seen more than twice”. It is a noble campaign. More people should see Cloud Atlas. It’s pretty good.

This leaves only one mystery movie. A film that Tom Hanks ranks above all others. My very solid guess is that this is the thing you are doing. Not only did Hanks write and direct it, as well as star in it, but it’s one of the movies he brings up most often. He discussed it at length during his appearance on Connor Ratliff’s Dead Eyes podcast, describing the past year as the greatest work experience of his life.

Again, Tom Hanks has made far more than four good movies, but the four above are probably his favorites. And give Cloud Atlas another shot, you philistines.

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