Everybody knows that one of the best parts of being a sports fan is debating and dissecting the most (and least) important questions in the sporting world with your friends. So, we’re bringing that to the pages of LGHL with our favorite head-to-head column: You’re Nuts.
In You’re Nuts, two LGHL staff members will take differing sides of one question and argue their opinions passionately. Then, in the end, it’s up to you to determine who’s right and who’s nuts.
Today’s Question: Which Best Picture Nominee Is Most Like the Ohio State Football Team?
Jami’s Take: “Top Gun: Maverick”
Having seen all but one of the 2023 Best Picture nominees (the final one is on this weekend’s viewing list), I do feel qualified to make an insane comparison between these films and Ohio State’s football team.
I could probably draw parallels between the team and most of these films if I had to, but why take the time when “Top Gun: Maverick” is right there. Besides being the most fun of the bunch, it shares thematic similarities with Buckeye Football.
At face value, a summary of “Top Gun: Maverick” would tell you “Small planes go fast.” But on a deeper level, this is also a film about overcoming adversity, teamwork, and to an extent, breaking records.
A quick summary of the film (sans spoilers) for those who haven’t seen it: Maverick (Tom Cruise, who also starred in the original “Top Gun”), has been a test pilot in the Navy for more than 30 years, and he has avoided being grounded despite breaking rule after rule. But when his tendency to dodge orders catches up with him, he is put in charge of training a detachment for a special mission. Maverick must confront his past, his fears, and ultimately, prepare his trainees for a mission in which their lives are on the line.
So with that description in mind, let’s start with teamwork.
Possibly the only group of people with more camaraderie than a collegiate sports team is a military unit, particularly an elite one with a dangerous job. To accomplish your goal in a movie like “Top Gun: Maverick,” your entire team has to have each other’s backs. There has to be trust established, and you have to unite toward a common aim.
Bonus: Do you know how the guys establish this trust in “Top Gun: Maverick?” They play football. On a beach that is slightly more scenic than Columbus, but still. Also, they give each other fun nicknames (call signs).
This camaraderie rings true for Ohio State football, which is nothing short of a band of brothers united on and off the field, cheering for each other’s successes and pushing each other through the pitfalls. Ultimately, these guys always come together to take down their opponent each Saturday. It’s grueling work, and the reward is in doing it together.
This teamwork is the foundation of overcoming adversity. Without the backing of your brothers, adversity can, at times, seem insurmountable. And toward the end of this past season, the Buckeyes faced their share of adversity in back-to-back losses. The challenges won’t end there as they enter next season. They’ll need to find their footing behind a new quarterback at the helm as C.J. Stroud heads to the NFL. They’ll need to regain their confidence.
But if they come together, the pieces will be in place for the Buckeyes to face their opponents fearlessly and confidently.
Similarly, the training detachment in “Top Gun: Maverick” has to find both their ability to work as a team, and afterwards, find the courage to have each other’s backs in the face of challenges.
When all of these pieces are in place, records can be broken – whether it be flying speed records or stats on the football field.
So while no one on the Ohio State football team is taking flight in the middle of a big game, “Top Gun: Maverick” best represents what this team is capable of if they dig deep to remember who they truly are.
Matt’s Take: “The Fabelmans”
This year’s slate of Best Picture nominees represents a fairly wide range of genres and styles. There are the blockbusters (Jami’s “Top Gun: Maverick” and “Avatar: The Way of Water”), there are the divisive artsy selections (“Tár” and “Triangle of Sadness”), there are the glitzy crowd-pleasers (“Everything Everywhere All at Once” and “Elvis”), there are the well-acted films that feel like they were based on plays even though they weren’t (”Women Talking” and “The Banshees of Inisherin”), there’s the historical war epic (“All Quiet on the Western Front’), and then there’s “The Fabelmans.”
Steven Spielberg’s semi-autobiographical film came into award season as the presumptive favorite to take home the biggest prize, but fairly quickly was surpassed by more inventive, creative projects. The movie feels a bit like it’s stuck in a bygone era and didn’t fully embrace the type of storytelling and filmmaking that leads to success in today’s day and age.
Despite that, there were thrilling performances from a handful of incredible stars including Oscar nominees Michelle Williams (“Dawson’s Creek,” not Destiny’s Child) and Judd Hirsch, as well as the erstwhile Riddler Paul Dano. While the project as a whole might feel slightly outdated, these electric performances are certainly enough to keep it in contention to take home the trophy.
But, that’s not to say that the fundamentals aren’t there, because Spielberg and Emmy, Tony, and Pulitzer winner Tony Kushner have crafted a really solid script, and at times it breaks through the conventionality of its format to deliver something surprising and slightly subversive.
Ultimately, for me, “The Fabelmans” just doesn’t live up to the potential that its pedigree and collective talent promised, because it was a little too firmly reliant on traditional ways of doing things and felt a bit fearful of trying new things. And if that’s not a perfect correlary for the Ohio State football team, I don’t know what is.
Who has the right answer to today’s question?
This poll is closed
Jami: "Top Gun: Maverick"
Matt: "The Fabelmans"