Still Cruising After All These Years

I haven't seen Knight and Day yet and the word on the street has been mixed, but even if it's terrible I'll still believe that Tom Cruise is a fantastic and underrated actor.

It's not often that one of the biggest movie stars in the world can be classified as "underrated" because clearly most audiences enjoy his work, but Cruise hasn't really been given the proper due by the critical community. Sure, he's gotten a handful of Oscar nominations, but he's not considered a "serious" actor by cineastes, which is a real shame.

I think Cruise gets a bad rap because 1) he's a popular actor and 2) he's handsome. Brad Pitt and George Clooney suffered the same fate for a while; because they're so unbelievably good looking, they can't possibly be good actors.  People point to less conventionally attractive actors like Sean Penn or Philip Seymour Hoffman as being elite actors - and indeed they are - while completely ignoring actors like Tom Cruise and belitting their accomplishments as if just anybody could carry a movie like Jerry Maguire or A Few Good Men.

It takes a special blend of not only good looks, but charisma and ability, to carry films as varied as Risky Business and Eyes Wide Shut.  If Clooney is the Cary Grant of our time then Cruise must be the Montgomery Clift: so attractive that people forget how stunningly good of an actor he was.

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Actors, Commentary


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