1. Frank T.J. Mackey - Magnolia
1999 was a unique, career-defining year for Tom Cruise. He appeared in two films that year - the aforementioned Eyes Wide Shut and Paul Thomas Anderson's masterful Magnolia. It's an interesting parallel, starring in the legendary Kubrick's final film and wonderkid Anderson's third, and the one which signified that he wasn't just a one hit wonder with Boogie Nights. In more ways than one, Paul Thomas Anderson is the heir to Kubrick's throne. Anderson's LA epic features Cruise's most majestic performance as self-help speaker who performs some of the most thrilling monologues in the whole of film. Despite the film being an ensemble piece, Cruise is the only true star in the film, instead he's surrounded by magnificent character actors and frequent Paul Thomas Anderson collaborators such as Philip Seymour Hoffman, John C Reilly and Philip Baker Hall. Magnolia is a poetic tapestry detailing the flaws and complexities of its many characters. Tom Cruise's character, Frank T.J. Mackey is estranged from his father, and all his charismatic bravado and self-help talks mask his broken and wounded heart. The father-son relationship is central to all of Paul Thomas Anderson's films apart from Punch Drunk Love, and Mackey's relationship with his dying father gets the best we've ever seen from Cruise, and their powerful final scene together is Cruise's finest contribution to cinema. Tom Cruise has always been a committed actor and a driven man with endless charisma and a driven smile, but that edge that is in all of Tom Cruise's best performances goes that extra bit further and there's a raw fragility to Cruise's portrayal of Mackey. Cruise become self-deprecating, riffing on his own charismatic superstar image, and the result is simply stunning. He scandalously didn't win the Oscar, being robbed by Michael Caine, but Cruise's performance in Magnolia is one he will probably never better.