Tom Cruise is the quintessential definition of a “movie star,” a term that has been less and less relevant as the millennials make their way to the ages of the 23-30 range. Regardless of what you think of the man personally, there’s no denying his big screen presence is an essential part of cinema history.
The thing is, Tom Cruise is much more than just a good-looking man that runs very well. He’s actually giving some wonderful performances, Oscar-worthy even. They may not be the most popular Tom Cruise movies that general audiences have seen, but believe me, they are out there.
Take Risky Business for example. Early on in Cruise’s career, his adorable charm was the selling point to get teenage girls in seats at the local cinema. An unapologetic unconventional premise should’ve been a disaster. A teenage boy hosting his own brothel? Think if that were to happen today, it wouldn’t. But it wasn’t the “risky” plot that had audiences flying to the theaters in droves, it was the delightful and charismatic performance of Tom Cruise. To this day, Risky Business is held as one of the finest in career defining performances of Cruise’s acting career.
Perhaps the most divisive film in his catalog, is also one of my personal favorite Tom Cruise performances. That film is Cameron Crowe’s audacious, yet awe-inspiring Vanilla Sky. I admit, throughout my first viewings in my younger years, I simply did not get or appreciate the film. Today, it remains the one film I recommend Cruise haters to give a watch in an attempt to showcase how terrific of an actor he truly is. David Aames is a character who has everything, with everything in life handed to him in one way or another.
The unsettling despair Aames goes through from beginning to end are both parts cynical and uplifting. If you are a fan of the movie, you know just how fantastic that elevator scene is. The range Cruise has with the limited movements of his face, while utilizing his eyes, voice and portraying a feeling of self discovery is simply astounding. It’s not a perfect film by any means, but one for sure that will always hold a little place in my heart, and a Blu-ray I revisit more often than not.
Then there’s the big one, the one that got Cruise his most recent best supporting actor nom, Paul Thomas Anderson’s masterpiece, Magnolia. Frank T.J. Mackey, the creator of the “Seduce and Destroy” system, which is manipulating woman into have sex with them. The misogynistic, foul-mouthed pyramid scheme artist is one of the (if not the) most multi-layered characters of the 21st century.
The infamous interview scene, with the equally infamous bedside scene are some of the most beautifully realized moments in a single performance. Cruise range in Magnolia is second to none, and he didn’t run a single inch.