Tom Cruise and Paramount believed in Top Gun: Maverick so much that they refused to sell the film to a streaming service during the pandemic. In my best LeBron James voice, the studio delayed the film’s release date not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, but six times before settling on May 2022. After its record-setting opening weekend this past Memorial Day, the gamble paid off.
Top Gun: Maverick registered the highest Memorial Day opening of all time with $160.5 million over four days. This also became Cruise’s biggest opening weekend ever, and his first opening over $100 million, which is unfathomable considering he’s Ethan Hunt in the Mission Impossible franchise.
I saw Maverick, and it rules. As a fan of the original, Maverick raises the stakes while still hitting all of the nostalgic notes. So much has been said about the practical effects and rightfully so. In a world of CGI, knowing that Cruise and the actors rode in these planes and filmed their genuine reactions is refreshing to see. Cruise is fantastic, Miles Teller is great, Jennifer Connelly is perfect, and Glen Powell is ready for stardom. It’s the perfect summer blockbuster that every age group will enjoy.
With a strong opening weekend and reception from both critics and fans including an A+ CinemaScore, expectations have changed for Top Gun: Maverick. The film will make a lot of money, probably north of $700 million. But with critics behind it, can Top Gun: Maverick be a major player at the Oscars?
Mark this down. The date is June 3, and I can say without a shadow of a doubt that Top Gun: Maverick will be nominated for multiple Oscars. Run to your bookie or nearest casino and bet a small fortune on Maverick receiving more than one Oscar nomination.
The two categories where I know the film will receive nominations are Best Film Editing and Best Sound. Between the seamless cuts to conversations between the pilots in the fighter jets and invigorating action sequences, this film looks spectacular. It’s a shoo-in for an editing nomination. If Maverick receives an editing nomination, a sound nomination will follow because those two categories go hand and hand. At the last five ceremonies, the film that won editing also won sound. That list includes Dune, Sound of Metal, Ford v Ferrari, Bohemian Rhapsody, and Dunkirk.
Maverick should also be a major player in both Best Visual Effects and Best Orginal Song categories. Why the film should receive a visual effects nomination needs no further explanation from me if you’ve seen the film. For an original song, Lady Gaga’s “Hold My Hand” will be a frontrunner in the category. Top Gun won in this same category with “Take My Breath Away.” If the sequel receives nominations in those four aforementioned categories, it will be the same number of nominations that the original received at the 1987 ceremony*.
*Top Gun received four Oscar nominations – Best Film Editing, Best Orginal Song, Best Sound, and Best Sound Effects Editing. In 2022, Best Sound is all one category.
The other categories are a bit trickier. Music is essential to Top Gun: Maverick, which is why the film could land in the Best Orginal Score category. I’m a bit cautious to say it’s a slam dunk because a lot of the music was previously used in the original film. However, having a team of composers that includes previous winners Hans Zimmer and Gaga might be enough name recognition to sway voters. Cinematography is also a possibility, but that category is always stacked to the brim. Having Claudio Miranda, who won the Oscar for 2012’s Life of Pi, as the cinematographer helps its case.
I don’t expect Maverick to compete in any of the acting categories. However, if Paramount wants me to lead the campaign around Powell for Best Supporting Actor, my DMs are open. The film probably won’t see any nominations in the screenplay or directing categories though Kosinski’s direction is excellent.
With all of those categories out of the way, let’s get to the reason why you’re reading this article. Can Top Gun: Maverick receive a Best Picture nomination? Yes. Is it possible? Absolutely. I haven’t met one person who has a bad thing to say about this movie. From critics to your friend’s mother, this film is the definition of a “crowd-pleaser.” It’s going to make a killing at the box office and will be a topic of conversation throughout the summer. Once the film hits Paramount+, it will gain even more viewers as it stays in the lexicon throughout the rest of 2022.
With 10 spots for Best Picture, the Oscars typically saves one spot for a blockbuster of some sort. Dunkirk, Black Panther, A Star Is Born, Bohemian Rhapsody, Ford v Ferrari, and Dune are popcorn films that received Best Picture nominations. Specifically, Ford v Ferrari is the film that Top Gun: Maverick should use as a template for its campaign. Lean into the “big dad energy” and appeal to male voters. Focus on the technical aspects of the film first, and then sell it as a huge cinematic achievement that deserves a Best Picture nomination. Is the category big enough to fit both Maverick and Avatar 2? Only time will tell.
If Top Gun: Maverick wants a Best Picture nomination, it will be on the back of Cruise. Is he willing to campaign this winter? He’s the world’s busiest man. Will he want to attend critical screenings and luncheons? I’m not sure, but if there’s one man who knows how to go on a worldwide PR tour, it’s our last true movie star.
Go see Top Gun: Maverick. You won’t be disappointed.
What are your thoughts on this film? Tweet me, at @danny_giro.