Does Tom Cruise Deserve an Oscar More Than Performances from The Whale or Elvis?

Does Tom Cruise Deserve an Oscar More Than Performances from The Whale or Elvis?
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The Oscars have always been a celebration of actors' performances on screen, as well as their contribution to the art of cinema. Therefore, it may not be unsurprising to learn that rumors about Tom Cruise potentially getting a nomination for an Academy Award has caused some stir.

The rumors surfaced amid incredible financial success of Top Gun: Maverick, the sequel to Cruise's original 80s hit; a movie that surpassed all expectations as it skyrocketed at the box office, becoming one of the biggest films of the year. The film's success cannot be questioned. However, is Cruise's performance worthy of an Oscar compared to other notable roles to hit theatres this year?

Top Gun: Maverick may have been one of the best-performing films of the year, however, does a film's mere financial success equate to the same as excellence within cinema? Which is the very purpose of the Academy Awards themselves.

According to the views of some users on Twitter, it very much does not. As one Twitter user expressed, should the Oscars be "scraping the barrel" of actors from such large movies instead of finding smaller performances that better deserve the nomination?

Generally, this opinion raises a good point. It is an easy nomination to choose from one of Hollywood's most expensive and successful movie franchises. Not to mention, the film was a big-budget highly-marketed sequel, to a film that was already known as an audience favorite.

Maverick may be an updated version of its 80's predecessor, however, can we call it innovation or pushing the boundaries of modern cinema? Especially compared to some other films this year, which also performed well with audiences, but were more nuanced and potentially more daring.

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Many Twitter users have called for films such as the artistic biopic Elvis, or the psychological drama The Whale. Both feature stand-out performances from prominent actors such as Austin Butler, Tom Hanks, Brendan Fraser, Sadie Sink, and Hong Chau. Why should they be overlooked for simply being smaller productions?

Of course, there are equally a shared number of Tweets that very much support Top Gun: Maverick's potential number of nominations for the Oscar. Although most will admit that the film may have an unfair advantage and artistically may not fit with movies such as Elvis or The Whale, Cruise's performance as the intrepid fighter pilot was still a noteworthy one. A franchise that is centred around the story of his character which Cruise himself is incredibly passionate about. Many Top Gun fans are quick to note that films did well with the masses because of this.

Cruise and Paramount Studios specifically waited past the pandemic (the film had finished filming in 2019) to give the film, and its audience, the cinema experience it deserved. If that isn't a valid contribution to cinema… what is?

The debate over what films deserve to be nominated for an Academy Award is a complicated one. It has to be said that movies with larger budgets and a significant focus on marketing will always perform better financially and appeal more to the larger public. Yet finding noticeable performances from smaller projects can be beneficial for the film industry to continue to promote the artistry and recognize the contribution of a wider selection of actors. But the performances from bigger popular films should not also get ignored – for the sake of equality in filmmaking.

Therefore, reviewing the audience's opinions on if Cruise and his Maverick film deserve an Oscar nomination isn't necessarily about the film's suitability for an award at all. It's more a question of people's preferences for film. And in this case, if they're a Top Gun fan.