Oscar Nominations Prove ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ Can’t Win Best Picture

Like a jet on takeoff, “Top Gun: Maverick” has been gaining momentum throughout awards season, with some pundits saying the popular sequel has a decent chance of winning Best Picture.

I’m afraid his goose is cooked. The 2023 Oscar nominations were announced Tuesday morning, and while “Maverick” earned a Best Picture nod, it looks like the beloved film will remain safely on the losers’ tarmac.

Its lead actor, Tom Cruise, was once again snubbed (he’s already lost Golden Globe and SAG nominations) and director Joseph Kosinski was also left out. True, last year’s winner “CODA” lacked those nods as well. But despite being called “Maverick”, “Top Gun” isn’t a comforting indie underdog – it’s an action-packed juggernaut. It took more nominations than it got.

Plus, although the Academy expanded Best Picture to make room for blockbusters in 2009 (after “Dark Knight” was snubbed), the last time a movie that grossed over $500 million in The world box office won the big kahuna was “Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” 20 years ago.

Audiences love ‘Maverick,’ and it’s made a boatload of cash ($1.4 billion), but it’ll be too much of a sell for the Academy — just like the other big-budget ‘Mad Max: Fury’ nominees. Road”, “Toy Story 3” and the first “Avatar” were.

‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’ leads the pack with 11 Oscar nominations, including Best Actress for Michelle Yeoh.
Courtesy of Everett Collection

‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’, an action-sci-fi comedy with a heavy dose of spirituality, is now the frontrunner with 11 nominations, including Best Actress for Michelle Yeoh, Best Supporting Actor for Ke Huy Quan and Best Director for Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert.

Though the hip “Everything Everywhere” may prove a tough sell for older voters for the top prize, its closest competitor, Steven Spielberg’s acclaimed “The Fabelmans,” tainted itself with the lack of an ever-revealing editor appointment. And Brian Tyree Henry (“Causeway”) was a surprise fifth-place finisher for Best Supporting Actor over “Fabelmans”‘ Paul Dano.

Cruise wasn’t the only big name offered by the Oscars on Tuesday. Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie have been excluded from the list of “Babylon”, Hugh Jackman has not been selected for “The Son”, Viola Davis will not reign for “The Woman King” and for her turn in “A Man Called Otto”, Tom Hanks is a man called nada.

Avatar The Way of the Water
“Avatar: The Way of Water” received a Best Picture nod, but nothing for director James Cameron.

And, while “Avatar: The Way of Water” picked up nods for Best Picture and some technical categories, the Academy didn’t say “I see you” to director James Cameron. He’s fine, though. His film surpassed the $2 billion mark at the box office last weekend.

In fact, compared to the past few years, money makers were on this list en masse. Joining “Avatar” in Best Picture are “Top Gun: Maverick” ($1.4 billion), “Elvis” ($287 million) and “Everything Everywhere” ($104 million). The others – “Tár”, “The Banshees of Inisherin”, “The Fabelmans”, “Women Talking”, “Triangle of Sadness” – were seen and adored by about five paying customers. And Netflix’s popular WWI movie “All Quiet on the Western Front,” well, streaming on Netflix.

Cate Blanchett stars in "Tar."
Cate Blanchett is the best actress favorite for “Tár.”
Focus characteristics

The Whale |  official trailer
Brendan Fraser is nominated for Best Actor for playing a 600-pound man in ‘The Whale.’

As for the actors, the presumed winners were all present and counted: Brendan Fraser for “The Whale” (Colin Farrell in “Banshees” could upset him), Cate Blanchett in “Tár” (Yeoh should refine this speech anyway), Kerry Condon in “Banshees” (the supporting actress could go many ways) and Ke Huy Quan for “Everything Everywhere” (it’s 100% his).

Will the headlines and a few names make anyone watch the Oscars? Probably not. The Golden Globes had their worst ratings earlier this month with just 5.9 million people tuning in. Yes, they aired on a Tuesday and were making an awkward comeback after having no TV shows in 2022. But interest in these shindigs has undeniably plummeted across the board.

Still, in the show’s credit, every Oscar has at least one standout moment that everyone talks about the next day.

Trouble is, the Academy can’t quite announce in advance that Will Smith is going to punch Chris Rock in the face and yell, “Get my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth!”

If it were possible, everyone, everywhere would be watching everything at the same time.

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