Tom Hanks has long been a favorite actor of mine. After winning Best Actor awards at back-to-back Oscars in the early '90s, he seemed to be a lock for perennial critical darling in much the way Meryl Streep has been over the years, and his popularity looked equally bullet proof. But he seems easy to take for granted, so I'm going to do a little stroll down memory lane, to refresh you on what he's done in his career...
Bosom Buddies (1980-1982)
The TV show that launched his career has otherwise been stricken from the record, other than periodic references to costar Peter Scolari's fate. It aired for two seasons, debuting just a few months after I was born. So Hanks has literally been a star of some kind for the span of my whole life.
His first big movie, directed by Ron Howard and featuring Daryl Hannah as a mermaid.
Nothing in Common (1986)
After a string of youthful-era comedies, Hanks tries for something different in this drama with Jackie Gleason.
The previews for this movie version of the TV series were the first time I saw Hanks. This one costars Dan Ackroyd. I still haven't seen it, but it's on my movie bucket list.
His, ah, first big role, the breakout project that definitively distinguished Hanks from his contemporaries, the quintessential role of an outsider who somehow fits right in.
Turner & Hooch (1989)
Another early glimpse via previews, and I still haven't seen this one, either. Hooch is a dog. There's a hilarious reference to this one in Scrubs.
Joe Versus the Volcano (1990)
Stars alongside Meg Ryan for the first time.
Bonfire of the Vanities (1990)
Could very easily have torpedoed his career.
A League of Their Own (1992)
This is the reason his career ended up just fine. "There's no crying in baseball!" Basically a prototype Woody!
Sleepless in Seattle (1993)
The second pairing with Meg Ryan and after Big, his most recognizable starring role to that point.
Wins the first Oscar portraying a man dying of AIDS.
Forrest Gump (1994)
Wins the second one playing Forrest, Forrest Gump. A lot of critics tend to call this movie one of the less deserving Best Picture winners, citing Pulp Fiction as an obvious alternative. But as big a fan of Quentin Tarantino and Fiction itself as I am, I'd still pick Gump every time. It's completely iconic. And apparently this was the closest Gary Sinese would ever come to immortality. Bet you can name his character!
Apollo 13 (1995)
Reteaming with Ron Howard for this milestone NASA film. And yes, Sinese is in it. And no, he doesn't get to go to the moon. (Spoiler alert: none of them do.)
Toy Story (1995)
With all due apologies to every other Tom Hanks performance, this one solidifies his immortality.
That Thing You Do! (1996)
Hanks directed this one. And some material was shot at Mercyhurst College, where both myself and my oldest brother would later attend. So I'm a degree away from him!
From the Earth to the Moon (1998)
A mini-series he helped bring to life, further diversifying his portfolio. Also, more NASA.
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Chances are you have some memories of this one, but not necessarily of Hanks himself in it. He purposefully had the most obvious elements of his role eliminated. And that's why Shakespeare in Love won the Oscar (I'll never argue that one, either).
You've Got Mail (1998)
The third film with Meg Ryan.
Toy Story 2 (1999)
Woody's movie. Technically the first one was Buzz Lightyear's.
The Green Mile (1999)
Based on a Stephen King (serialized) book.
Cast Away (2000)
Costarring Wilson, a volleyball. One of my personal favorites.
Band of Brothers (2001)
Another TV mini-series. Also, more WWII.
Road to Perdition (2002)
Critics have lately given to saying Hanks doesn't have much range. I'd suggest this is one obvious exception to that opinion. Another personal favorite.
Catch Me If You Can (2002)
Wears horn-rimmed glassed. Does not become HRG.
The Ladykillers (2004)
I love this performance.
The Terminal (2004)
He takes on an accent in both of these 2004 movies. This one is probably one of the movies where critics, and audiences, started to take him for granted, but it's actually pretty great.
The Polar Express (2004)
He plays multiple roles in this motion capture flick.
The Da Vinci Code (2006)
Relentlessly mocked for his hairstyle in the movie, but this is another Hanks standout for me.
Charlie Wilson's War (2007)
This is another favorite. (There's a lot of them.)
Angels & Demons (2009)
By popular demand, no questionable hairstyle in this sequel that in the original book was actually a prequel.
The Pacific (2010)
A third TV mini-series. Also features WWII.
Toy Story 3 (2010)
A lot of fans love this third entry in the series, but I find it needlessly repetitive to material from the earlier ones.
Larry Crowne (2011)
Perhaps the movie where it became incredibly obvious that neither fans nor critics still particularly thought Hanks was special. Of course, another personal favorite.
Cloud Atlas (2012)
I was somewhat baffled by the mediocre reception to this movie in general, but then, maybe it wasn't so surprising. More surprising was the complete apathy to the multiple and varied roles Hanks plays in it, including the first and probably only badass he'll ever do.
Captain Phillips (2013)
Basically Cast Away if instead of a volleyball Hanks is confronted by angry Somalian pirates. But critics and audiences actually liked this one for a change.
Saving Mr. Banks (2013)
Another personal favorite in a role that seemed like a surefire hit all around: Tom Hanks as Walt Disney. Does he pull it off? He pulls it off.