During last night’s Tribeca Film Festival q & a with John Oliver, Tom Hanks said flat-out what anyone will tell you but which stars like Hanks are often loath to admit. He said that he “peaked in the ’90s.” Gold star for candor.
Except I partially disagree. I would say that Hanks peaked from Splash (’84) to Road to Perdition (’02), or a run of 18 years. Okay, 14 years if you feel that Hanks’ career really took off with Big in ’88. And yes, I would say that since Perdition luck was not really been with him except in the case of Charlie Wilson’s War (’07) and Captain Phillips (’13).
Once your cards have gone cold, it’s awfully hard to heat them up again. There’s nothing more humiliating than for a man who once held mountains in the palm of his hands having to push his own cart around the supermarket as he buys his own groceries and then, insult to injury, has to wait in line at the checkout counter. Then again he’s stinking rich.
Hanks’ finest early-career-building films: Splash (’84), Dragnet (’87), Big (’88), Punchline (’88).
Hanks’ amazing six-year, nothing-but-pure-gold period: A League of Their Own (’92), Sleepless in Seattle (’93), Philadelphia (’93), Forrest Gump (’94), Apollo 13 (’95), Toy Story (’95), Saving Private Ryan (’98), You’ve Got Mail (’98), Toy Story 2 (’99).
Hanks’ first big-time stinker — a movie I’ll hate with every fibre of my being for the rest of my life: The Green Mile (’99).
Commendable: Cast Away (’00)
Hanks’ last, best serious role after his ’90s kissed-by-God period: Road to Perdition (’02).
Hanks & Spielberg films that aren’t that bad but which nobody really wants to re-watch, much less own: the absurdly over-rated Catch Me If You Can (’02), the all-but-disappeared The Terminal (’04).
Hanks/Coen Bros. shortfaller: The Ladykillers (’04)
More and More (a) Paycheck Roles, (b) Genial, Family-Type Stuff with Edges Sanded Off, or (c) Dramatic Misfires or Under-Performers: The Polar Express (’04), The Da Vinci Code (’06), The Great Buck Howard (’09), Larry Crowne (’11), Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (’11), Cloud Atlas (’12).
Decent, sufficient if over-praised Hanks: Captain Phillips (’13).
Passable Hanks-Spielberg: Bridge of Spies (’15).
Nobody seems to really dislike it: A Hologram for the King (’16).
Yes, I know — Hanks has two potential rebounds in the wings with Clint Eastwood‘s Sully as well as James Ponsoldt‘s The Circle. Which may help people to forget or ignore the fact that he’s playing Professor Robert Langdon again, this time in Ron Howard‘s Inferno.