A salute to the actor on his 50th birthday
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2. "Born on the Fourth of July" (1989)
The role: Vietnam veteran and activist Ron Kovic
Nominated for: Academy Award (Best Actor), BAFTA Award (Best Actor)
Won: Chicago Film Critics Association Award (Best Actor), Golden Globe (Best Actor in a Drama)
Thoughts: If you want to see some of Cruise's best work, distilled and gripping, check out the veterans' hospital sequence of Oliver Stone's "Born on the Fourth of July." As Vietnam vet and activist Ron Kovic, Cruise's work in the film was a personal game changer. A year after starring in the Best Picture winner, he almost did it again, but this time, at least he got some of the love himself in the form of an Oscar nomination.