Top Gun: Maverick – The Rightful Best Picture

Abby Thomas '23, Sports Editor

The Academy Awards are less than a month away with nominations released in mid-January. Among the 24 categories, the most sought-after award is Best Picture. This year, 10 films are nominated for this honor: Everything Everywhere All At Once, The Banshees of Inisherin, Women Talking, The Fabelmans, Top Gun: Maverick, Elvis, Triangle of Sadness, All Quiet on the Western Front, Avatar: The Way of Water, and Tár

In the past, the award for Best Picture usually went to the most prestigious or profound film in the category, but what is The Academy missing by only picking movies that are “all work and no play,” like Nomadland, Parasite, and Greenbook (previous Best Picture winners)?

Though the title of Best Picture isn’t about the fan favorite, The Academy is passing over exceptional films because they are not esteemed or “fancy” enough. 

Some film connoisseurs are disappointed at the inclusion of films like Top Gun: Maverick and Avatar: The Way of Water, generally known as less sophisticated than the other nominees. But what if Top Gun: Maverick is the rightful winner?

In the anticipated sequel to the 1986 hit Top Gun, Tom Cruise reclaims his role as the beloved Pete “Maverick” Mitchell. The supporting cast consists of Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelley, Jon Hamm, Glen Powell, and Val Kilmer returning as Iceman. 

The film follows the story of Maverick as he returns to Top Gun to train an elite squad of pilots for a life-threatening mission. There, Maverick butts heads with Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw, played by Teller, the son of his late partner Nick “Goose” Bradshaw. For those unfamiliar with the first film, Maverick and Goose were best friends, and (spoiler alert) Goose tragically died due to an in-flight accident.

TIFF website

The film became a massive hit over the summer, breaking box office records and selling out theaters internationally. The movie made $1.488 billion in the global box office, the second highest of 2022 (number one being the second installment of Avatar). The allure of the film, plus the glorious circulating clip of Teller dancing on the beach, drew everyone to their closest movie theater.

If you take away the fighter jets and the beach football, Top Gun: Maverick is a simple story of legacy, courage, and camaraderie, and it brings a sense of nostalgia to viewers that is rarely accomplished by other films. The cinematography is spectacular and the soundtrack, led by the queen herself, Lady Gaga, is powerful, coming together with the screenplay to create a masterpiece deserving of the highest award.

(I could make an argument for Elvis as well. Working with a voice coach through years of preparation, Best Actor nominee and heartthrob Austin Butler embodies the iconic king of rock and roll, with the renowned Tom Hanks acting as Presley’s agent, Tom Parker.) 

Despite Top Gun: Maverick not being the predicted winner, I think it still has a shot against the other films. According to Richard Fink of Movie Web, it should at least beat out Women Talking, Triangle of Sadness, Avatar: The Way of Water, Tár, and All Quiet on the Western Front, which are the least likely winners. Nevertheless, the film will find more competition with the other nominees.

Notably, famed director Steven Spielberg was recently spotted at the Oscars nominee luncheon talking to Cruise. In the video that has now gone viral, Spielberg says to Cruise, “You saved Hollywood’s a**. And you might have saved theatrical distribution, seriously. Maverick might have saved the entire theatrical industry.” Having a legend like Spielberg praise the film gives fans of the movie an extra boost of hope.


In addition to Best Picture, Top Gun: Maverick was nominated for Best Visual Effects, Best Film Editing, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Sound, and Best Original Song. Lady Gaga’s “Hold My Hand” deserves every award for which it receives a nomination. While I’ll be rooting for Top Gun: Maverick in every category it’s nominated for during the ceremony, I’ll especially be on the edge of my seat for Best Original Song and Best Picture.

Catch The Oscars live on ABC on March 12 at 8:00 PM. And hopefully we can cheer for the summer-time smash hit together.