Fast X, the first film in what’s set to be a two (or three) part conclusion to the blockbuster Fast and Furious franchise, has finally drifted into cinemas. From the very first chase, it reminds us of one thing: It’s time for the Academy to introduce a Best Stunts Oscar.
Over the years, we’ve seen Dom (Vin Diesel) and the gang embark on a series of increasingly high-stakes missions. In Fast Five, they drive a vault through the streets of Rio. They defy the logic that “cars don’t fly” in Furious 7, when they drive a car through the Etihad Towers in Abu Dhabi. And of course, F9: The Fast Saga sees Roman (Tyrese Gibson) and Tej (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges) driving in space.
Fast X is no exception. The opening sequence alone is like watching a real-life version of Crash Bandicoot’s Boulder Dash level. Except instead of a boulder, it’s a bomb. And instead of tearing through the jungle, it’s headed straight for the Vatican. You know, the one in the middle of Rome?
Oh, and did we mention that the boulder bomb also catches on fire? It also catches on fire. The sequence is a thrill a minute, and it took five months of planning to pull off.
It’s one hell of an opening chase, and from there, Fast X delivers all the jaw-dropping, incredulous, “I can’t believe they just did that” chaos that fans have come to know, love, and expect from the multi-billion-dollar franchise.
Fast and Furious Stars Call for Stunt Work Recognition
At the Fast X press conference in Rome last week, Fast X star Michelle Rodriguez, along with Dame Helen Mirren, called for Hollywood to recognise stunt performers and co-ordinators at the Academy Awards.
Much like the flaming bomb that barrels through the streets of Rome in Fast X, the conversation around the addition of a Best Stunts Award at the Oscars has been gaining momentum.
The idea of a Best Stunts Oscar dates all the way back to 1991. According to Vulture — who have been championing the addition of a stunts category for several years and even have their own Stunt Awards — director Sidney Lumet originally proposed the idea while working on the film A Stranger Among Us.
It began as a conversation between Lumet and stunt coordinator Jack Gill. Lumet went to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), where he was told that the process of introducing a new category “could take as long as three or four years”.
Decades later, there’s still no recognition for stunt work at the Oscars, and the AMPAS have seemingly cooled on the idea altogether.
“When I first approached them, they were extremely eager to help,” Gill told Vulture. “As the years went on, they got tired of me. Now it’s hard to even get a meeting.”
Why Stunt Work Deserves an Oscar
Stunt work is integral to all films, but especially to blockbuster action films. Imagine the two highest-grossing films of 2022, Avatar: The Way of Water and Top Gun: Maverick with no stunts. Imagine any Marvel film with no stunts. It’s these mind-blowing, jaw-on-the-floor moments that often make the difference between a person deciding to see a film on the big screen, rather than waiting until it’s available to stream at home.
Last year, Top Gun: Maverick star Tom Cruise and Avatar: The Way of Water director James Cameron were credited with saving Hollywood — or more specifically, cinemas. As the world began to reopen after several years of COVID restrictions, Top Gun: Maverick pulled in a cool USD$1.49 million at the global box office, while the long-awaited Avatar: The Way of Water became the third highest grossing film of all time. To date, it’s made USD$2.3 billion at the global box office. Cinema was officially back, but that wasn’t all. Top Gun: Maverick went on to receive six Oscar nominations, and Avatar: The Way of Water received four. But of course, none of them were for stunts.
For films with such big action sequences, wouldn’t it make sense for the people behind them — the stunt co-ordinators, teams and performers — to receive some kind of recognition from the Academy?
A Best Stunts Oscar Could Be an Easy Win for the Academy
In 2010, over 40 million people tuned in to watch the Academy Awards live. In 2023, 18.7 million tuned in. While it was an increase on the 2022 Oscars, which drew in 16.6 million, and the pandemic low of 2021’s Oscars, which hit a record low of 10.4 million viewers, the decline in interest is still apparent.
There are several reasons people aren’t interested in the Oscars in the same way they were 13 years ago. Streaming has fundamentally changed the way we consume media, and people don’t tune into live television the way they used to. But the Academy has also faced a number of controversies in the last decade.
2015 marked the beginning of #OscarsSoWhite, which put a spotlight on the Academy’s glaring lack of diversity in nominations. 2017 marked the publication of the New York Times exposé of Harvey Weinstein, the Hollywood producer who was, at the time, a fixture of the Oscar race. The Weinstein piece, which eventually led to his conviction as a sex offender, sparked the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements. The Academy has also faced criticism for not evolving with the times and acknowledging the films that people are actually going to see on the big screen.
For its part, the Academy has been has been implementing a number of changes to address the systemic issues and lack of diversity, both in its membership and in the requirements it has for a film to be eligible for an Oscar nomination.
They’ve also been trying to bring audiences back, with some very hit-or-miss attempts to increase viewership. Remember the ill-fated #OscarsFanFavorite movie or the cringeworthy #OscarsCheerMoment?
What a Fast X Oscar Nomination Could Do for the Oscars
A film like Fast X getting Oscar recognition could be mutually beneficial to both the blockbuster franchise, which has a notably diverse fanbase, as well as the Academy. In fact, it’s not just about the stunts; there are several categories Fast X could be worthy of a nomination.
Let’s be realistic for a moment. Does Fast X deserve a Best Picture nod? Probably not. But it could feasibly compete in categories like Visual Effects, Sound, and Production Design. If the Academy were to introduce a Best Stunts Oscar, it would be difficult to envision a world in which the Fast and Furious Oscar curse continues. Because quite frankly, it’s a little bizarre the franchise hasn’t been recognised before now.
Have Any Fast and Furious Movies Won an Oscar?
To date, no Fast and Furious movies have been nominated for an Oscar, let alone won, and no one is more surprised than the franchise’s star, Vin Diesel.
Diesel, who plays franchise hero Dominic Toretto, has been attempting to bring the Fast franchise into the Oscar conversation as far back as the 2011 release of Fast Five.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if there is some Oscar talk around this,” Diesel told the Los Angeles Times.
“I don’t know, maybe I’m just biting off what some guy from Channel 7 thought,” he mused. “But 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.’”
Furious 7‘s Oscar Push
When Furious 7 premiered in 2015, Diesel famously told Variety: “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.”
Doubling down, he added: “This will win Best Picture. There is nothing that will ever come close to the power of this thing.”
Furious 7 received widespread critical acclaim. It also grossed over USD$1.5 billion at the box office, making it the most successful instalment in the franchise to date.
Notably, Furious 7 was also Paul Walker’s final film. Walker played co-protagonist Brian O’Conner alongside Diesel in six of the first seven Fast and Furious films.
On November 30, 2013, Walker died in a single-vehicle car accident. At the time, Furious 7 was still in production. Walker had already shot most of his scenes for the film, but his death changed the entire trajectory of the film. Just days after Walker’s death, Universal Pictures announced that production on Furious 7 was on pause indefinitely.
After significant rewrites that changed the direction of the entire third act of the film, Furious 7 resumed production in April 2014. The film ends on an emotional note, as Walker’s character drives off into the sunset as “See You Again” by Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth plays.
The revised version of the film was only able to be completed with groundbreaking visual effects work. Walker’s brothers, Caleb and Cody Walker, stepped in as body doubles, while CGI pasted Paul’s face over theirs.
Furious 7‘s Oscar Snubs
However, when Oscar nominations were announced in January 2016, Furious 7 received no nominations.
The director James Wan voiced his disappointment to Yahoo Movies. In an interview, Wan said that the film would not have been completed if not for “the amazing team that got behind it and finished all the visual effects”.
“I thought we were guaranteed to get a nomination,” Wan said. “There were all these other great movies, but the movies that were nominated, I’ve seen all that stuff before. But we have never seen a movie where we took someone who was no longer around and kept him alive. Literally. So that was one that I felt cheated on.”
Khalifa and Puth’s tribute song was another notable snub for Furious 7. “See You Again” was a commercial success, and scored three Grammy nominations and a Golden Globe nomination.
Still, the track was snubbed by the Academy. The snub even prompted Questlove to tweet: “I woulda bet the farm that @wizkhalifa was taking that statue home for ‘See You Again’. Guess they told me huh? #Oscars”.
I woulda bet the farm that @wizkhalifa was taking that statue home for “See You Again”. Guess they told me huh? #Oscars
— ?st (@questlove) January 14, 2016
Will Fast X Be Nominated for an Oscar?
Whether Fast X will finally break the Fast and Furious Oscar snubbery remains to be seen. Whether the Academy will introduce a Best Stunts Oscar also remains to be seen. But one thing’s for sure: if you’re looking for a fun time at the movies, Fast X will deliver.
Fast X is in HOYTS cinemas now. Buy tickets here.
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