Appreciating all that makes America special

Actor: Tom Hanks

Photo courtesy of Flickr, uploaded by oscarnow2009

Photo courtesy of Flickr, uploaded by oscarnow2009

What can’t Tom Hanks do? He’s acted in some of the most highly acclaimed films of recent years (PhiladelphiaSaving Private RyanForrest Gump). He’s mastered light comedy (Big) and romantic comedy (Sleepless in Seattle). He was a hit on TV (Bosom Buddies) and is arguably Saturday Night Live’s most versatile guest host. He brings cartoon characters to life (Toy Story). He’s been an executive producer (Evan Almighty), a producer (My Big Fat Greek Wedding), even a director and writer (That Thing You Do).

Which isn’t to say that he’s never chosen a bad film. May I present exhibit one, the interminable Cast Away. Exhibit two, the Coen Brothers rare gacker, The Ladykillers. And finally, one of the most hideous clunkers of all time, Bonfire of the Vanities.

Uploaded by drawgood

Uploaded by drawgood

Even in those films, though, you can’t fault Tom Hanks’s performance. When he takes on a role, he becomes you and me. He’s does exactly what we would do if we were that character. He’s genuine, and sincere, and appears completely at home in his own skin. Which, now that I’ve written it, strikes me as a terribly lame description.

Tom Hanks is only the second actor to win back-to-back Oscars (1993 and 1994), after the legendary Spencer Tracy. But if I could compare Tom to an old-Hollywood actor, it would probably be Henry Fonda. Compare Fonda in Fail-Safe to Hanks in Apollo 13. They both exhibit confidence in the midst of crisis, and I think the comparison is a pretty high compliment. To Fonda.

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  1. I’ve said before that I think Tom Hanks could act my life more believably than I have lived it. ‘Saving Private Ryan’ is the only 3-hour movie that I’ve ever seen that actually needed to be as long as it was, and wasn’t just a director being self-indulgent. And I’ve only seen it once, but I didn’t think Cast Away was that bad.

  2. Tom Hanks could act/direct/produce/write just about anything and I’d want to watch it/listen to it. But Castaway….not the worst movie I’ve ever seen (that was 12 Monkeys), but it was the only 3 hour movie (or was it 4?) I’ve ever seen that seemed more like 12 and should have been 1 1/2.

  3. Tom Hanks is way the bomb. The arc from Philadelphia to Forrest Gump to Saving Private Ryan could not be made so believably by any other actor.

    Meanwhile, I liked Castaway [and 12 Monkeys]. Despite its budget, I felt Castaway has to be looked at as a small movie. [And I’ve always dug Terry Gilliam’s gritty, dense treatment of a story. And 12 Monkeys does the whole back-to-the-future thing without getting cutesy.]

  4. Have to disagree with you on Cast Away. That’s one of my top 3 Tom Hanks movies (the others being Forrest Gump and You’ve Got Mail). One of my favorite movie quotes is from Cast Away:

    “One day logic was proven all wrong because the tide lifted, came in, and gave me a sail. And now, here I am. I’m back. In Memphis, talking to you ….. And I know what I have to do now. I have to keep breathing. Because tomorrow the sun will rise. Who knows what the tide could bring?”