Oscars 2023: Avatar 2 vs Top gun ¨Will the Oscars Be Saved¨


For nearly 100 years the academy awards have been a centerpiece of both moviegoers and general audiences, giving awards to only the greatest of films. An annual film awards ceremony that once brought in as many as 50 million viewers on television. 


Over the past decade the Oscars ratings have dwindled, in February 2020 (before the Pandemic) the 92nd Academy awards brought in a record viewership low, with an estimated  23.64 million viewers. The following year, at the 93rd academy awards, which were moved from the normal location of Dolby Theatre to Union Station in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic. That ceremony brought in another record low, with a horrific estimated 10 million viewers, some of which was attributed to the lack of big releases as a result of COVID-19 related delays. 


It seems that the Oscars have lost the magic they once had long ago. There are several factors that could be affecting this trend,but the most prominent one is that the Academy has become less inclined to nominate films with large commercial appeal. Most blockbuster movies don’t get an oscar nomination for best picture. Many get several other nominations, though. For instance, at the 93rd Academy Awards (2021), all of the best picture nominees were box office bombs or streaming original films (due to COVID). Currently, the 93rd Academy awards is the least watched Oscars ever. 


There is still a lot of potential left for OSCARS to make a Hollywood comeback. Last year (2022) at the 94 Academy Awards, several ¨big¨ films received Oscar nominations. Films like Dune, Cruella, No Time To Die, and Encanto were all nominated for various academy awards. Dune was nominated for 10 Oscars, including best picture, and managed to bring home 6 wins, including big categories like best original score and best cinematography. The film lost best picture to CODA. These popular films receiving nominations and wins likely helped drive the viewership boost, resulting in a 60% increase from 2021 and bringing in an estimated 16 million viewers, which is still not quite a large enough audience for the Academy Awards. In addition to more popular films receiving nominations, the highly controversial Will Smith-Chris Rock slapping incident may promote interest in future ceremonies, to see if any more drama unfolds onstage. Maybe James Cameron will brawl with Steven Spielberg?


Now with the 95th Academy Awards coming, this is essentially the Academy’s last chance to bring in more audiences. But there’s a twist: this year is probably one of best years ever for the OSCARS in terms of nominations. For the first time ever in OSCARS history, two billion-dollar grossers have been nominated for best picture, and for the first time 2 sequels have been nominated in the same year. It is pretty obvious which two films these are. This is a massively historic moment for the OSCARS; having 2 blockbusters with large commercial appeal receive several nominations is a good sign, and hopefully will drive ratings through the roof. Other blockbuster films with various nominations include Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, The Batman, and Elvis


It is possible that the domestic box office (U.S) has affected oscars viewership the past couple of years. 2021 was a massive box office increase from 2020 as covid restrictions eased. This year (2022), the box office continued to recover with massive blockbuster hits. 


So what’s at stake this year at the Academy Awards? Viewership ratings must increase substantially in order for the Oscars to really survive the next decade. But more interestingly, who is going to win a few Oscars?


One of these blockbuster sequels nominated for best picture this year is James Cameron’s massive sequel to the highest grossing film of all time Avatar (2009). After 12 years of production, his new film titled Avatar: The Way of Water finally released on December 16th 2022, and has amassed a mega $2.270 billion dollars at the global box office making it the third-highest grossing film of all time. The original Avatar was also nominated for best picture, but lost to The Hurt Locker. The other sequel is Tom Cruise’s long awaited sequel to his 1986 film Top Gun. After nearly 30 years of production related issues and development hell. The film finally released on May 27th 2022, to massive critical acclaim (96% rotten tomatoes, 99% audience score). As a result of this, the film legged out throughout the entire summer, and amassed a whopping $720 million at the domestic box office, making it the 5th highest grossing film in the U.S and Canada behind Avatar (2009). The film went on to collect $1.493 billion dollars globally, making it Tom Cruise’s highest grossing film, and Paramount’s 2nd highest grossing film behind James Cameron’s Titanic (1997).


The firm’s long run box office performance is how movies used to play long ago. Today, Marvel movies release in theaters and are massively front loaded; all the money is the first 3 weekends, then it’s pretty much over. With Top Gun: Maverick and Avatar: The Way of Water, the box office legged out over time, demonstrating a much more healthy box office.


These two films represent a possible return to artisan cinema at the box office. With amazing and great movies that aren’t about Marvel superheroes or Star Wars stormtroopers. This year’s Oscars is the make or break moment for Hollywood, and represents a possible shift back to the old days of cinema.


Avatar: The Way of Water been nominated for the following academy awards:


  • Best Picture
  • Best Sound
  • Best Production Design
  • Best Visual Effects

Surprisingly Avatar: The Way of Water snubbed a best cinematography nomination, having Titanic cinematographer Russell Carpenter helm the films cinematography. Carpenter won an academy award for his work on Titanic.


Top Gun: Maverick has been nominated for the following academy awards:


  • Best Picture
  • Best Adapted Screenplay
  • Best Original Song ¨Hold my Hand¨
  • Best Sound
  • Best Film editing
  • Best Visual effects


Black Panther: Wakanda Forever received nominations for Best Makeup and Hairstyling, Best Original Song, Best Costume Design, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Visual Effects. The Batman has been nominated for Best Makeup and Hairstyling, Best Sound, and Best Visual Effects. At the age of 91, John Williams is now the oldest person to be nominated for Best Original Score, for his work on Steven Speilberg´s latest pic The Fabelmans, making it Williams’s 53rd oscar nomination, which unfortunately was a box office bomb and is Spielberg’s lowest grossing film.


The Battle for Best Sound: 

There are five nominees in this category, of the five, Top: Gun Maverick, The Batman, and Avatar: The Way of Water are likely contenders for the prize. All three of these films I watched in a movie theater. I am split between The Batman, and Avatar: The Way of Water, but personally I am going to go with Avatar on this one (personal bias).


The Battle for Best Production Design:

There are five nominees in this category, and of the five, I believe that Elvis, The Fabelmans, and Avatar: The Way of Water are the primary contenders. It would be disappointing if Avatar: The Way of Water did not win this category. The film took a decade to complete. James Cameron and the creative team spent an entire year designing new technology to allow for underwater motion capture. It took 5 years from when filming began to when the film was released, demonstrating the complex production designs and the amount of dedication the Avatar team put into this film. The first Avatar won this category back in 2010 (formerly called Best Art Direction). 


The Battle for Best Visual Effects:

There are five nominees in this category: Top: Gun Maverick, Avatar: The Way of Water, All Quiet on The Western Front, and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. The winner this year is so obvious it is practically already decided. Avatar: The Way of Water  easily had the best visual effects I have ever seen. The computer animations took several years to complete, and that is a fact, not an opinion. It would be the biggest upset in Oscars history if Avatar: The Way of Water did not win this award. It would undermine the credibility of the Academy Awards, and the industry as a whole. So the Oscar goes to Avatar: The Way of Water


Finally, the gold trophy, the award many filmmakers can only dream of, not even the Dark Knight could get a nomination (back when there were only five nominees). 


Here it is…

Best Picture…

There are ten nominees in this category:

  • Elvis
  • Everything Everywhere All at Once
  • Tar
  • Women Talking
  • Triangle of Sadness
  • All Quiet on the Western Front
  • The Banshees of Inisherin
  • The Fabelmans
  • Top Gun: Maverick
  • Avatar: The Way of Water


This category is the most challenging to predict. Steven Speilbergs The Fabelmans is probably the most likely contender. Other contenders include Top Gun: Maverick and Everything Everywhere All at Once. It is unlikely that Avatar: The Way of Water will win best picture, but it’s not out of the question. You never know in movies; sometimes there’s a plot twist…


This year’s Oscars is the biggest since the 76th Academy Awards, when Lord of The Rings: The Return of King (2003) won all 11 academy awards that it was nominated for, including Best Picture, tying the record for most wins with James Cameron’s Titanic. The 76th Academy Awards brought in an estimated 43.5 million viewers. The 70th Academy Awards are currently the most watched Oscars in history, bringing in a whopping 57.25 million tv viewers, who tuned in to watch James Cameron win 11 academy awards for his artisan masterpiece Titanic. Cameron famously quoted a line from his own movie, proclaiming, ¨I am the king of the World,¨ and the crown I believe he still holds today with his Avatar film series. He has broken the highest grossing film record twice with Titanic and Avatar (his own film Avatar (2009) broke his other film Titanic’s record).


If you believe in movies like Top Gun: Maverick and Avatar: The Way of Water, you should tune in to this year’s oscars. This is it. Everything has built to this moment for the Academy Awards: two sequels with best picture nominations in the same year! This is unheard of. Save the Oscars, save the movies! Tune in March 12 for the one of biggest Academy Awards ever. Comedian Jimmy Kimmel (Host of ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live!) will host the show for the 3rd time, having previously hosted the 89th and 90th Academy Awards. The Oscars are back again, we’ve missed them, and now we have a reason to watch them. Tune in, Sunday March 12, 2023, 5:00 P.M on ABC. History will be made, a new era will begin. It’s your choice, but make it a good one. Think about the 100-year history of the Oscars, and why it’s still here…