And the Award Goes to: “Top Gun: Maverick”

Alden Detmer, Layout Assistant and Staff Writer

As the highest-grossing movie of the year at the domestic box office, “Top Gun: Maverick” is a gravity-defying action film that quickly goes to Mach 10. While the 1986 “Top Gun” was a cheery and playful film, the sequel ups the stakes with a more intense and dramatic tone. Don’t be fooled though: “Maverick” is a more mature twist on similar character personalities. Only this time, there’s a real mission.

Captain Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Tom Cruise) is looking for some excitement (and a little bit of love) as one of the top fighter pilots in the Navy. After lengthy face-to-face time with an admiral, he has three weeks to teach six new pilots for a daring new mission. The eclectic team of Rooster (Miles Teller), Hangman (Glen Powell), Phoenix (Monica Barbaro), Bob (Lewis Pullman), Payback (Jay Ellis) and Fanboy (Danny Ramirez) take to the skies in immersive action scenes.

The bold low-altitude flights (filmed inside real F/A-18s), 1-on-1 combat and even experimental Mach 10 flight stand out on the big screen. “Top Gun” composer Harold Faltermeyer also returned to score along with Hans Zimmer and Lorne Balfe. The catchy soundtrack (which also got an Oscars nomination for Best Sound) and vivid jet noises add an extra element of realism.

As the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences looks to increase its slumping Oscars ratings, “Top Gun: Maverick” may be what they need. With over $1.488 billion at the box office, “Maverick” and “Avatar: The Way of Water” are rare exceptions to the unspoken rule of limiting blockbuster films at the distinguished awards ceremony. With over six nominations (notably Tom Cruise’s Best Actor is missing), “Maverick” is going to easily land Tom Cruise’s first Oscar win.