The Top 10… Tom Cruise Performances Five years ago, Tom Cruise — as big an A-list movie star as Hollywood has ever known — blew up his own career.

10. Joel Goodsen in "Risky Business" (1983)

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21-year-old Cruise, in one famous scene wearing nothing more than his tighty-whities, slid into super-stardom in this coming of age dramedy -- a genre that was never stronger than in the early 1980s -- that unfolds in a suburb of Chicago.

He went on “Oprah” and jumped up and down on a sofa; he gave an interview in which he condemned Brooke Shields for taking medication for her post-partum depression; and he went on “The Today Show” and lectured Matt Lauer about the history of psychiatry. Hard as it was to believe, the all-American actor with the boyish grin who everyone loved had become a self-important bully who everyone loved to hate.

Flash-forward to the present, though, and the difference is remarkable: Cruise (and his PR team) have managed one of the greatest resurrections since Jesus himself. How did he do it? Well, he apparently learned to laugh at himself. After a run of box-office disappointments (“Mission: Impossible III” in 2006, “Lions for Lambs” in 2007, and “Valkyrie” in 2008), Cruise made a “cameo” — if one can really call it that, since he was virtually unrecognizable — as a fat, bald, vile producer in Ben Stiller’s no-holds-barred comedy “Tropic Thunder,” winning countless guffaws and widespread praise. Then, to mark the occasion of his 25th year in films, he launched a Web site expressly to thank his fans for their enduring support. And slowly but surely, he began making amends for his prior behavior. He appeared on David Letterman’s “The Late Show” and jovially mocked himself. He offered a heartfelt apology to Shields. He attended a roast of Lauer where he really roasted himself. And he recently returned to Oprah’s couch — and remained seated.

Last week, Cruise made a surprise appearance on the MTV Movie Awards, reprising the role of Les Grossman and delivering an utterly hilarious rant and expertly choreographed dance that has had people talking ever since. Two weeks from today, his next film, “Knight and Day,” an action-packed comedy, will be released nationwide, and early indications are that it will mark his return to the top of the box-office. And today — since everyone else seems to be reassessing Tom Cruise — I’d like to share with you my list of the ten best big screen performances ever delivered by Cruise. (Note: I’ve disqualified his appearance as Les Grossman because it really was just a cameo… but, for better or worse, I suspect that it may take on a life — and film — of its own before all is said and done!)

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