FBC 2023 Oscar Coverage, Part I: The Top Gunundrum

Hey everyone! I get that we are over three weeks away from having the nominations revealed for a ceremony that is over three months away. Totes get it. There’s no way I should be saying these words on the second of fucking January, but I have no choice: IT IS OSCARS TIME, BABY!

This is the most jacked I’ve been for the Oscars in YEARS. Now, granted, the past few years have been weird years for movies and, let’s face it, society as a whole. But 2022 felt like the theatrical moviegoing experience was back in a big way. To break down some numbers: 18 of the top 20 movies grossed over $100 million at the domestic box office, a significant rise from 2021 when there were only 11. (For some perspective, in 2019- the last full year of pre-COVID, there were 26 films which reached this mark.)

So, with a renewed love of movies, there should, only naturally, be a renewed love of every movie nerd’s favorite night. I have said often that the Oscars are my Super Bowl; it’s my favorite night of television viewing all year because it’s about something I truly care about and love. How FBC co-founder Brandon Andreasen feels about football is how I feel about film, so I am pumped to start my Oscar coverage.

However, the time-honored tradition of the Oscars also comes with the annual tradition of the Oscars fucking everything up. I will be the first dude on the front line to defend my beloved ceremony from all of its detractors. But I also know the Oscars miss a lot, especially when it comes to big easy targets they should have no problem hitting, especially if the person trying to hit that target is Tom Cruise in some cool jet while a badass score swells around him.

Let’s spend part one of our Oscar coverage talking about Top Gun: Maverick.

The biggest knock on the Oscars will always be that the Academy is just a bunch of preening liberal elites who try and slam message films down our throats while ignoring the movies that the average American actually wants to go to the theater and pay their hard-earned money to see. Now, that’s an easy argument to dissect, so I’ll do it quickly.

First off, and this is just the truth of the matter, but the most profitable movies are rarely the best movies. And I get that there is some dipshit out there who is thinking, “Why shouldn’t every Harry Potter movie also be the best picture winner?” and the answer to that is just super-simple: because they fucking shouldn’t, you idiot. Not every movie of merit or worth has a big studio producing it, and in the era where superhero movies and franchise films dominate all, we need the smaller studios to be the places where big new ideas can thrive.

Second, the Oscars have tried, although somewhat begrudgingly, to address those complaints. In 2009, following the criticism of The Dark Knight not being nominated for Best Picture, the Academy made one of the most sweeping changes to the awards in decades by changing the number of nominees for its biggest category to include as many as ten films. Now, has that helped ease critics? No. Of course not. Because most of the critics were dumb and coming at it from a bad faith argument, so they’re gonna be shitty if every film was nominated. They’re all assholes.

And look, there are times when a wildly profitable film is good and gets snubbed, but it’s never because of some liberal hullabaloo. It’s because sometimes, the Oscars fuck up. In fact, often when something seems like a guaranteed lay-up, Oscars gonna miss that shot in a big way. And that brings us to this year…

There was no human being more stunned than me that Top Gun: Maverick was not just a good film, but a great one. A big part of this is because the 1986 original film is not great. I mean, it’s fine, but it’s nothing special. But, holy shit, this film is special. And it is great.

Working with screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie (who has been Tom Cruise’s main dude since Edge Of Tomorrow, director Joseph Kosinski makes a movie that is smart and investing and fun as all hell. It presents real stakes clearly in a no-nonsense matter. It gives us character dynamics that feel real and earned. Oh, and it also has a lot of cool-ass airplanes doing cool-ass things.

It is my #8 film of 2022, was critically enjoyed (96% on Rotten Tomatoes, 78% on Metacritic), and no film made more money at the box office. To say that Tom Cruise saved movie theaters this year is not an understatement. And so that takes us to January 24th, when the Oscar nominations will come out. We need to ask two questions: Should Top Gun: Maverick be nominated for any of the major Oscars? And will it? It is the Top Gun conundrum, or The Top Gunundrum, as I shall now call it.

The first question is the easiest to answer, and I’ll do so with a resounding yes. It my world, the film would be up for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Actor with Best Director being a distinct possibility. For those wondering why the film would be nominated for Adapted Screenplay, it’s because the characters are based on previous works so even though this is a new film and not based on a specific work, it has to be in the Adapted category. The Oscars are silly like that.

But will Top Gun: Maverick be the king of Oscar nominations? Probably not. It will definitely rack up the technical noms, but I do not see Cruise, Kosinski or the screenplay getting the love it deserves. As for Best Picture? Well, let’s just say the chances of that are about as good as flying into a canyon and then doing an inverted dive while shooting a missile into a small hole and then climbing steeply out all while avoiding enemy fire.

But those seem just like the kind of odds Maverick would want.

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