Vin Diesel clearly loves the Fast and Furious franchise so much that he can’t stop proclaiming its Oscar worthiness to anyone who’ll listen. That predilection for award predictions has already started for next summer’s Fast 8 — the star recently told Entertainment Tonight that when the Academy finally weighs in on 2017, he expects his new director to be in the mix for a gold statuette.
While promoting the Iraq War drama Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, Diesel told ET that, after being snubbed by the Oscars last year for the NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton, Fast 8 director F. Gary Gray is now intent on making his contribution to the Fast and Furious films an unforgettable one. “I think he went into making this movie with a little bit of a chip on his shoulder, going ‘Oh, really? Ok. Now I’m going to take the biggest saga in the world, and I’m about to throw Oscars at you. Wait till you see what he does!”
That’s some lofty (and slightly ludicrous) talk, even without getting into the question of why Gray would be throwing Oscars at anyone. Despite the franchise’s unimpeachable popularity — last year’s Furious 7, featuring the last big-screen turn from the late Paul Walker, grossed a whopping $1.5 billion worldwide — it’s never gotten any awards-season love.
These comments, however, are in keeping with Diesel’s habit of declaring that his auto-action movies are destined for Academy Awards greatness. As far back as 2011, the star was suggesting that Fast 5 might be in the Oscar conversation, telling the Los Angeles Times (via The Hollywood Reporter): “I wouldn’t be surprised if there is some Oscar talk around this…. Sooner or later, people are gonna say, ‘Wait a minute, just because they are for the working class doesn’t mean they’re not great.'”
That was followed by Diesel’s even bolder 2015 announcement (to Variety) that Furious 7 would win Best Picture, as well as become the most successful film ever.
“Universal is going to have the biggest movie in history with this movie. It will probably win Best Picture at the Oscars, unless the Oscars don’t want to be relevant ever.… The head of the studio, Ron Meyer, often said when Fast 5 or Fast 6 came out, ‘If there was no number attached to these movies, they would be contenders for Best Picture.’ And when people see Furious 7, they are going to agree.”
At the time, Yahoo Movies offered Diesel some advice on his nascent Oscar campaign, but alas, Furious 7 did not ultimately earn a Best Picture nod. And, much to the chagrin of many, it also didn’t place in the categories in which it had its best chances: Best Original Song (for Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth’s “See You Again”) and Best Visual Effects. (Earlier this year, Furious 7 director James Wan told Yahoo Movies that, considering how much digital wizardry went into completing Walker’s unfinished performance, that second snub was particularly egregious.)
We suspect the Academy’s continued neglect won’t have much effect on the future popularity of the franchise (Fast 8 hits theaters on April 14.) But we still appreciate Diesel’s long, twilight struggle for high-octane Oscar glory.
Watch the ‘Furious 7’ cast talk about who would win in a fight: