The producers, cast and crew of "Top Gun: Maverick" are gearing up for a big night at the 95th Academy Awards on Sunday, March 12, 2023. The movie is up for six Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Song, Best Editing, Best Sound and Best Visual Effects.
A week that should represent a victory lap for Tom Cruise, producer Jerry Bruckheimer and Paramount Pictures has gotten complicated after the leader of an expatriate activist group called the Ukrainian World Congress (UWC) has made some shocking allegations about alleged Russian censorship of the billion-dollar blockbuster.
UWC President Paul Grod sent a letter to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences demanding that the group rescind the movie's Oscar nominations because of its undisclosed ties to Russian billionaire Dimitry Rybolovlev, an oligarch sanctioned by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Rybolovlev has been identified as a silent investor in New Republic Pictures, which has made substantial investments in both "Top Gun: Maverick" and Cruise's upcoming "Mission: Impossible" movies. According to Deadline, the news came out when former New Republic President Bradley Fischer filed a breach of content lawsuit against the company.
One of the criticisms of "Top Gun: Maverick" has been that the actual enemy that is building the nuclear facility is never identified. Most viewers come away from the film with the impression that it's a small country trying to acquire nuclear capabilities while flying advanced aircraft supplied by a superpower opposed to U.S. interests.
Grod doesn't see it that way. He asserts Rybolovlev's involvement in the movie gave the Kremlin a chance to make changes to the script and delete any references to a Russian enemy. "Rybolovlev's funding of 'Top Gun: Maverick' was not publicly disclosed and there is good reason to believe that his involvement may have led to censorship on behalf of the Kremlin," he wrote. "Contrary to the original film, 'Top Gun: Maverick' makes no direct or indirect reference to Russia. This is hardly a coincidence. Hollywood must be vigilant and transparent of Russian money being used to further pro-Kremlin censorship."
Because if you're Grod, Russia must be the only enemy and anyone who doesn't obviously identify them as a bad actor must secretly be in league with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Nevermind that "Top Gun: Maverick" completed filming almost four years before Russia invaded Ukraine.
The Chinese government might also have something to say about Grod's allegations, since they banned "Top Gun: Maverick" from a theatrical release in China, allegedly because they thought the movie implied they were the superpower behind the enemy state that Maverick and company battle in the movie.
The odds are good that the Oscars will ignore Grod, but that won't stop the world media from making a big deal out of his allegations. Voting has closed for the Oscars, so these wild claims will have zero impact on whether the movie wins any awards.
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