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Four decades have passed since a fresh-faced Tom Cruise made his film debut in 1981’s Endless Love. Only a few short years later, the actor became one of Hollywood’s biggest stars. And ever since, he has been a big-screen mainstay. Even now at the age of 58, Cruise remains one of the last traditional movie stars. But does he deserve to win an Oscar?

Tom Cruise wears a suit and waves at the 84th Annual Academy Awards
Tom Cruise wears a suit and waves at the 84th Annual Academy Awards | Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Tom Cruise won Golden Globes for all 3 of his Oscar-nominated roles

Cruise and awards have recently made headlines. In May 2021, the actor returned the three Golden Globes he won in protest to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. The Globes are actually the most high-profile awards the actor has won over the course of his career. Despite his A-list status, he has never won an Academy Award, though he’s been nominated.

In fact, Cruise managed to land Academy Award nominations for the same three performances for which he won Golden Globes. These include 1989’s Born on the Fourth of July, 1996’s Jerry Maguire, and 1999’s Magnolia. He also received four other Golden Globe nominations. The most recent — and most surprising — of the bunch was a nod for 2008 comedy Tropic Thunder.

Does the actor really deserve to win an Academy Award?

So Cruise has at least been in the running to win an Oscar. But why hasn’t he walked away with the highest honor a film actor can earn? Well, that likely has to do with the public’s perception of Cruise. Because he’s such a huge star, audiences and industry insiders see him more as a “movie star” than a “serious actor.” Even Tom Hanks won before he was “Tom Hanks.”

Although Cruise is most known these days for the Mission: Impossible franchise, he is capable of Oscar-worthy work. Arguably, Jerry Maguire and Magnolia are perhaps the closest he came to actually winning an Academy Award. And even though Cruise isn’t taken as seriously as some of his peers, he has proven his ability to lose himself in a role time and again.


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It still isn’t too late for Tom Cruise to win an Oscar

After so many years as “Tom Cruise,” it might be more difficult than ever for the actor to finally get the academy’s attention. His personal life already clouds some people’s feelings about his on-screen work. Awards-giving bodies tend to reward actors at the beginning of their careers or much later on in life. That said, Cruise could still pull off a surprise win eventually.

In the meantime, Cruise is leaning into his popular Mission: Impossible franchise. With the seventh and eighth installments on the way, the actor doesn’t appear to be making much effort to win over Oscar anytime soon. But longtime fans know that he can tap into that side anytime. And if Cruise decides to stretch his acting muscles, he could make his way to the stage.