With a legacy that spans decades, Tom Hanks is a name and face that is synonymous with iconic characters thrown into incredible circumstances. With his mess of curly hair and his lop-sided grin, Hanks has been a cinematic staple, often portraying the American every-man, the outcast and daring leader.

With five acting projects currently in the works, everyone’s favorite leading man shows no signs of slowing down. So, in honor of The Hanks, here are five truly exceptional gems from a career for the ages.

Big (1988)
This wonderful story tells the tale of a young boy who wishes at an arcade machine that he were a grown-up only to discover the next morning that he is a grown man. As both a coming-of-age story and comedy romance, Big demonstrated Hanks’ tremendous range and almost universal appeal among audiences.

The ‘Burbs (1989)
This film ushered in the era of the suburbanites with a hearty helping of paranoia, wacky neighbors and the macabre. Hanks and his cohorts are convinced their neighbors are ghoulish murderers and they want answers. Hanks is at his very best in roles as average Joes trying to make sense of the insanity that surrounds them.

Turner & Hooch (1989)
Introducing the very best in buddy cop action. Scott Turner is a detective who must adopt a dog in order to find the murderer of the dog’s owner. As you can imagine, Hooch turns Detective Turner’s life upside-down. It’s heartwarming! It’s a romp! It’s vintage Tom Hanks!

Forrest Gump
As Hanks’ career progressed, he became involved in more dramatic, serious roles. But among them, the eponymous lead in this film is one for the history books. Forrest Gump is a simple man from the South who’s story is simultaneously vast and intimate. As I’m sure you know, there’s more than a few quotable phrases that helped make this movie a family favorite.

Saving Private Ryan
In Spielberg’s ambitious depiction of WWII in France, Hanks took on the role of a captain charged with risking his soldiers’ lives in order to rescue another soldier whose brother had died in battle. The film’s scope is audacious, especially the first 20 minutes of the film depicting the bloody battle on the beaches of Normandy. But the project was grounded by Hanks’ quiet and engrossing performance as a soldier struggling to carry out his duty.

Okay, this isn’t a film Tom Hanks has starred in, but this music video is a must-watch for an true fan of The Hanks

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