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Will ‘F9’ make Vin Diesel’s ‘Fast & Furious’ Oscar dreams come true?


The “Fast & Furious” franchise has come a long way in the 20 years since the first film, 2001’s “The Fast and the Furious,” made its debut and introduced audiences to street racing crooks with hearts of gold and trunks full of DVD players. That’s a running theme of the latest installment, “F9,” which not only goes back in time to tell an origin story about Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) but also launches its characters into outer space.

But despite its (literally) lofty goals and a growing cast that includes wrestler-turned-actor John Cena, rap star Cardi B, and even Oscar-winning legend Helen Mirren, no film in the “Fast & Furious” series has received awards recognition from the academy. Not that Diesel, the franchise’s engine and biggest cheerleader, hasn’t tried to will some nominations into existence.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if there is some Oscar talk around this. I don’t know, maybe I’m just biting off what some guy from Channel 7 thought,” Diesel said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times back in 2011 around the release of “Fast Five.” “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.’”

“Fast Five” reinvigorated the franchise and grossed more than $625 million worldwide, but failed to make good on Diesel’s hope. But after “Fast & Furious 6” also went ignored by Oscar voters, Diesel doubled down on his predictions for “Furious 7,” the final film to feature co-star Paul Walker, who died during production.

“Universal is going to have the biggest movie in history with this movie,” Diesel told Variety in 2015. “It will probably win best picture at the Oscars unless the Oscars don’t want to be relevant ever.”

He added, “This will win best picture. There is nothing that will ever come close to the power of this thing.”

“Furious 7” was widely praised and grossed more than $1 billion worldwide. It also featured a prominent original song contender, “See You Again” from Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth, and groundbreaking visual effects work that allowed director James Wan to complete the project after Walker’s death.

“‘Furious 7’ would not have been able to be completed if it wasn’t for the amazing team that got behind it and finished all the visual effects,” Wan told Yahoo Entertainment. Yet again, despite legitimate bona fides, “Fast & Furious” was snubbed by the Oscars.

“I thought we were guaranteed to get a nomination,” Wan said in 2016. “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.”

Undeterred, however, Diesel didn’t even wait for 2017’s “The Fate of the Furious” to debut before starting the Oscar hype train once again. In a 2016 interview, referencing director F. Gary Gray’s “Straight Outta Compton” being snubbed by the Academy Awards, Diesel suggested the eighth “Fast” feature would act as a bit of awards revenge. “I think he went into making this movie with a little bit of a chip on his shoulder, going ‘Oh, really? Okay. Now I’m going to take the biggest saga in the world, and I’m about to throw Oscars at you,’” Diesel said.

Suffice it to say, “Fate of the Furious” also missed at the Academy Awards, once again leaving the series without any nominations. So, will that change next year? Diesel hasn’t yet staked his claim to an award run for “F9,” and it’s awfully early to even consider the 2022 Oscars. But with the aforementioned launch into space plus extended action sequences that feature cars bounced around with giant magnets, it’s possible the Justin Lin film could find itself competing in the visual effects category (although that will be a crowded field thanks to three separate Marvel movies plus highly anticipated blockbusters like “Dune”) or sound category. But even if “F9” fails to ultimately connect with awards voters, there are always the 10th and 11th films in the franchise, coming eventually to a theater near you. 

“The best is yet to come,” Diesel told Entertainment Weekly this year about the future of the franchise. After leaving the Earth’s orbit, who could even argue?

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