Oscars Best Picture upset in the making: Is ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ the real alternative to ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’?

Everything Everywhere All at Once” led the Oscar nominations with 11 and is currently the decisive front-runner to win Best Picture according to the combined predictions of thousands of Gold Derby users as of this writing. The question is, what could possibly beat it? Right now Golden Globe champs “The Banshees of Inisherin” and “The Fabelmans” rank second and third, respectively. “Top Gun: Maverick” follows in fourth place, but might we be underestimating the high-flying sequel?

On paper, “Top Gun: Maverick” doesn’t look like your typical Oscar winner. First off, it’s a sequel, and the only sequels that have ever won Best Picture were “The Godfather Part II” and “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” — and some might not even consider “Return of the King” a sequel in the traditional sense, but rather the completion of a single planned-out story. Second, “Maverick” is a summer blockbuster. Granted, the Oscars do love a success story, but they don’t usually take studio tentpole films seriously as art.

But after “CODA” completed its unusual march to Best Picture — despite coming from a streaming service and having only three nominations — you can’t rule anything anymore out at the Oscars or make any firm declarations about what is or isn’t possible based on the awards’ history. And “Maverick” has shown specific signs of strength. For starters, it has a strong narrative, being a crowd-pleasing film that made tons of money, ushering in the return of movie theaters after years of depressed box office due to COVID-19.

It also received strong reviews — its MetaCritic score was 78, which is better than fellow Best Picture nominees “Elvis,” “Avatar: The Way of Water,” “All Quiet on the Western Front,” and “Triangle of Sadness.” And the industry has already rallied around it, with more guilds nominating it than any other film. That doesn’t just include craft organizations recognizing it for its impressive technical work. Industry writers, directors, and producers nominated it too.

So could we see the tide turn from “Everything Everywhere” to “Maverick” in the coming weeks? If so, the first sign might be the Producers Guild, whose winners are announced February 25. Our PGA odds rank “Maverick” a close second to “Everything Everywhere” for Best Picture. If “Maverick” does fly by the front-runner at those awards, the whole Oscar race could suddenly take a sharp turn.

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