Could 'Top Gun: Maverick' Actually Win a Best Picture Oscar?

Top Gun Maverick Monica Barbaro Lewis Pullman Miles Teller
Rooster (Miles Teller) performs "Great Balls of Fire" in "Top Gun: Maverick." (Paramount Pictures)

When Tom Cruise announced plans to make a sequel to "Top Gun" more than three decades after the original 1986 classic, even the most optimistic fans couldn't have predicted the spectacular results.

"Top Gun: Maverick" is not only the best-reviewed mainstream movie of 2022, it's a worldwide box office smash, generating more than $1.4 billion in ticket sales to become the biggest military-themed movie of all time.

Now, we're approaching awards season, and "Top Gun: Maverick" is appearing on dozens of Best of 2022 lists and also getting tons of attention from the prognosticators who handicap the Academy Awards nominations well before the end of the year.

It's not really a surprise that a movie that connected so deeply with audiences would get one of the 10 Best Picture nominations, especially because the producers behind the awards show have been desperately trying to figure out ways to reverse the declining TV ratings the ceremony has suffered over the past few years.

This year, there's not an indie darling that's earned a critical consensus, so there's a real sense that it's a wide-open Oscar race. It's time to ask the question: Could "Top Gun: Maverick" win the Oscar for Best Picture?

Related: Here Are All the Military Movies That Won a Best Picture Oscar

We've had our first indication that "Maverick" could be gathering momentum. The National Board of Review has named "Top Gun: Maverick" the Best Film of 2022. Despite what the organization's name would suggest, the National Board of Review is a New York-based nonprofit organization made up of critics, people who work in the movies, academics and film enthusiasts.

This award hasn't been a reliable predictor of the Best Picture Oscar, most recently agreeing with the Academy about the 2018 movie "Green Book." The National Board of Review did honor Spike Lee's excellent Vietnam veteran drama "Da 5 Bloods" in 2020, so sometimes the group has better taste than the Oscars.

The organization also gave its award for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography to Claudio Miranda for "Top Gun: Maverick." Miranda has also been recognized for Best Cinematography by the New York Film Critics Circle and seems a lock to win his second Oscar after previously winning for "Life of Pi."

Cruise should be getting his fourth Oscar nomination for Best Actor, and it won't be a surprise to see additional nominations for Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Song, Best Production Design, Best Film Editing, Best Sound, and Best Visual Effects. That's eight possible nominations.

Is "Top Gun: Maverick" the Best Picture of 2022? Everyone's definition of what "best" means is probably different, so a better question is to ask whether any of Oscars' Best Pictures were actually the best picture of their particular year.

"Top Gun: Maverick" is a movie that got almost everyone excited about going back to the theaters after a rough couple of years. The film tells a great story while featuring superior craftsmanship and groundbreaking technical achievements. If the Oscars wants a new generation of moviegoers to care about their annual shindig, honoring "Top Gun: Maverick" as Best Picture seems like an easy call.

If you've missed out on seeing the movie so far, it's available to buy or rent on home video and will be streaming on Paramount+ starting Dec. 22, 2022.

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