Top Gun: Maverick – Making the Case for the Oscars

Yes, before you say anything, I am aware that it is late May 2022 and the Oscar nominations are announced in January of 2023. However, I don’t care, and I am still going to be making the case why Top Gun: Maverick should be in the Oscar conversation. Below, I will break down what I currently believe are the odds against the film and what works in favor of the film come Oscar season.

What are the Odds Against the Film?

The film’s release date: The May release has a large impact on the film’s Oscar chances because people would have to keep the film on their minds until January when nomination voting begins. With that being said, I couldn’t help but dig up some stats that will both help and hurt the case for Top Gun: Maverick at the Oscars next year. 

There have been 23 films that have won Best Picture with release dates between January and July. However, the last Best Picture Winner released in the first half of the year dates back to 2009 with The Hurt Locker, which released on June 26, 2009.

If you look over the last decade of Best Picture nominations, several early releases were able to defy some of the odds. 

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood: A box office hit with significant stars attached to it and Quentin Tarantino. Not much of a comparison here because I don’t see the film garnering ten Oscar nominations, including two acting nominations. 
Black Panther: I don’t believe any similarities can be made here as this was a cultural phenomenon and TRULY defied the odds. 
Dunkirk: A war movie, a box office hit, no acting nominations, but one glaring concern is this was a Christopher Nolan movie and he had a previous history with the Academy. 
Get Out: Jordan Peele broke down walls, barriers, and everything in-between for Get Out to be nominated and win an Oscar. 
Mad Max: Fury Road: Here we go, a May release, blockbuster, no acting nominations, no screenplay, but we also have George Miller, who had four Oscar nominations plus a win heading into this race. The film ended up with ten nominations, including Best Director. 

None of these things made me feel good about the film’s chances with the Oscars. On the contrary, I would even dare say it made me even more nervous that Top Gun: Maverick could be overlooked come nominations in January. However, I will not give up yet. 

What are the Odds in the Film’s Favor?

Tom Cruise: A three-time Academy Award-nominated actor who many believe should have not just an Oscar by now but a couple of more nominations under his belt. I am not sure anyone will campaign as hard as he will for THE FILM more than him. He already gives credit where credit is due when you even hear him talk about the film. Sit Cruise in the room at a couple of these meet-and-greets hyping up the film, and we might have a strong chance. 

The Ensemble: The film has quite the ensemble including Academy Award Winner Jennifer Connelly, Miles Teller and two underrated pieces of the puzzle in Val Kilmer and Jon Hamm. 

The Film’s Reception: The movie sits at 97% on Rotten Tomatoes as of writing this, with 146 critics reporting. I saw the movie in a theater with a packed crowd in IMAX and there was cheering, crying, more cheering and even more crying. People stood around EXCITED to talk about what they watched when you walked out of the theater. Word of mouth will be huge and will help my next point.

Box Office: Top Gun: Maverick is Tom Cruise’s first movie back in theaters since Mission: Impossible Fallout in 2018, which grossed $787 million at the box office, including $567 million overseas. Cruise is a massive box office draw globally and will help the legs of the film, especially since it has no real mature audience (sorry Jurassic World) competition until Elvis comes out almost a month later. 

Top Gun‘s Oscar Nominations: On May 16, 1986, the first Top Gun came out and snagged four Oscar nominations, including for Best Original Song, which it later won. Yes, all the nominations it received were in below the line categories, but I do feel nostalgia may help come nomination voting. 

Blockbusters at the Oscars: My last case in point will lie with the idea that the Academy does not tend to nominate blockbuster films. If you follow the Oscars, you know this isn’t true. It is a narrative beaten down by some comic book fans year in and year out when the latest Marvel film hits theaters and they think begin the campaign for Best Picture for the film. If the Academy wants to add some eyes to the telecast in March and attempt to shut down the (false) narrative they don’t nominate blockbuster films, I believe Top Gun: Maverick fits the bill to make this happen. 

What Nominations Should the Film Contend For?

Best Picture, Best Director (Joseph Kosinski), Best Actor (Tom Cruise), Best Supporting Actor (Miles Teller), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Score, Best Original Song, Best Sound, Best Film Editing, Best Cinematography

Top to bottom, Top Gun: Maverick should be awarded for every aspect of this film. I would love to see it in those nine categories as it sits right now. There might be a category or two that I might budge on once I see more films throughout the year. However, if you look at the slate of movies releasing this year, no other film will pack the punch as Top Gun: Maverick did. This will be my most prominent case for this film come November/December.

Ultimately, it is currently May, and I am out of my mind probably even writing this, but this will not be the last time I mention this film and the Oscars together, whether it is on the site, Twitter or the Oscars Central podcast. I plan on being the campaign manager for Top Gun: Maverick for the remainder of the year and throughout Oscar season. 

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