Tom Hanks: Josh Baskin vs. Andrew Beckett

Who is the best Tom Hanks character?

One actor. Two film roles. You tell us which portrayal was the best. The most memorable. Or iconic. Or simply your favorite.

But before you pass judgment, a few words defending the “character” of each…

The case for Josh Baskin

Already with a TV show and a few movies under his belt, Hanks finally made it big (har-har) in 1988. Starring in director Penny Marshall’s fantasy-comedy Big, Hanks was terrific as a man-child who is the living personification of the cautionary phrase “Be careful what you wish for.” If one had any doubts about Hanks’ performance, take note that Jodie Foster, Dudley Moore, Jennifer Garner, and a multitude of other actors in body swap movies were not nominated for Oscars for their work. Hanks’ performance in this heartwarming film lends itself to repeated viewings. It’s a classic.

The case for Andrew Beckett

Where Big was a lightweight “popcorn movie” Philadelphia was a FILM, in all caps. Hanks no longer needed to rely on shtick or over-the-top emoting; his hard work in theatre, television, and film finally came to acting fruition. His dignified (but not deified) turn as a gay man stricken with AIDS—and the homophobia surrounding his circumstance—is remarkable. In a role that could have been overwrought, Hanks elicits pathos of a decidedly non-maudlin variety. And for his job well done Hanks’ reward was an Academy Award for Best Actor.


Now that you’ve heard the arguments for both it’s time to render your verdict!