Let me state from the very beginning I do not care about his personal life, it is none of my business, all I care about is his work. He is the biggest movie star in the world. Period. However, he is also among the finest actors at work in movies, which is not always discussed, which is not always something people remember about Cruise. Directors will tell you how hard working he is, his co-stars are in awe of his preparation and commitment to each project and when he is challenged by both director and script, his work can be astonishing. Perhaps because he often is seen in major blockbuster movies critic do not take him seriously as an actor, or his fine work is overshadowed by the effects and chases in his films, for example the Mission: Impossible series.
In many ways his career has mirrored that of Paul Newman, a close friend until Newman died, in that Cruise has been able to balance being a major movie star with a fine actor, growing before our eyes. His major breakthrough was, of course, the teen comedy Risky Business (1983), an edgy well-written comedy that offered Cruise a strong role that amply displayed his gifts as an actor. He became choosier about his roles after that, seeking out strong filmmakers with solid co-stars rather than taking on films that were programmed to be box office. Working with Martin Scorsese and Paul Newman he gave an excellent performance in The Color of Money (1986), deserving of an Oscar nomination for supporting actor which did not happen. That same year he starred in the blockbuster hit Top Gun (1986) which made solid his status as a leading man and gave him box office clout.
He used the clout to make the movies he wanted to make, such as Rain Man (1988) in which he was superb giving the real performance in the film as nasty Charlie Babbit, who begins his journey using his autistic brother for his money but comes to love him, finding his own humanity. The lion’s share of reviews went to Dustin Hoffman, but it was Cruise who gave the greater performance, the one with the tougher arc to portray. He should have been nominated along with Hoffman, but the Academy failed to do so. A year later they did not.