‘Top Gun: Maverick’ wins Best Sound Oscar, avenging loss from 36 years ago

As Gold Derby predicted, “Top Gun: Maverick” won the Best Sound Oscar on March 12 over co-nominees “All Quiet on the Western Front,” “Avatar: The Way of Water,” “The Batman” and “Elvis.” This victory was 36 years in the making, as the original “Top Gun” (1986) was nominated in both sound races at the 1987 Oscars and lost to “Aliens” (Best Sound Effects Editing) and “Platoon” (Best Sound). Note that the two sound categories were combined into a single one beginning with the 2021 ceremony.

Accepting the Oscars win for “Top Gun: Maverick” were Mark Weingarten, James H. Mather, Al Nelson, Chris Burdon and Mark Taylor. Prior to tonight, only Weingarten and Taylor already had trophies on their mantels, for “Dunkirk” (sound mixing, 2017) and “1917” (sound mixing, 2019), respectively.

“Top Gun: Maverick” was a bonafide box office hit for Paramount Pictures, earning $718 million domestically and becoming one of the top grossing movies of all time. The Tom Cruise-fronted sequel proved to be the perfect mix of nostalgia and action for audiences both old and young. Joseph Kosinski directed the high-flying aviator flick, which finds Cruise’s character returning to the United States Navy Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor program as a trainer.

The original “Top Gun” won the Oscar for Best Song (“Take My Breath Away” by Giorgio Moroder and Tom Whitlock). It was also up for Best Sound Effects Editing, Best Sound and Best Film Editing. Comparatively, the “Maverick” sequel contended for six Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing, Best Song (“Hold My Hand” by Lady Gaga and BloodPop), Best Sound and Best Visual Effects.

Gold Derby’s Experts, Editors and Users collectively had “Top Gun: Maverick” in first place to win the Oscar for Best Sound with leading 16/5 odds. Our runner-up was “All Quiet on the Western Front” (37/10 odds), followed by “Avatar: The Way of Water” (9/2 odds), “Elvis” (9/2 odds) and “The Batman” (9/2 odds).

Earlier this awards season, Kosinski told Gold Derby in an exclusive video interview, “I had the memory of seeing that first film as a 12-year-old kid on the big screen in the summer of 1986.” The director added, “A lot of the experiences I remember as a kid are seeing great films and that was one that stuck out. Tony Scott’s artistry in a giant blockbuster film was pretty revolutionary. So, I wanted this film to exist in the universe of ‘Top Gun,’ I wanted it to feel like a ‘Top Gun’ movie. I wanted it to have that timeless quality, but at the same time, I knew we would have to innovate, because the bar was set very high by that first film, and in order to make a movie worthy of the ‘Top Gun’ name, we’d have to find a way to forge our own way. We really worked hard to push the envelope in every way on this film.”

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