Don’t worry about your Academy Award pool next year, because according to Vin Diesel, the Best Picture trophy has already been claimed. “[Furious 7] will probably win Best Picture at the Oscars, unless the Oscars don’t want to be relevant, ever,” he told Variety. “This will win Best Picture.” Hmmm: The film is tragically associated with the sad loss of Paul Walker, giving it an emotional punch lacking in the franchise’s previous installments. But the cast doesn’t have to exploit Walker to be the big winner at the Kodak Theater: There are other, tried and true and less craven Oscar-campaign strategies that could position Furious 7 as a frontrunner. Here’s how we see this playing out.
March 28: All posters now grandly tout Fast and Furious as “the next chapter in the award-winning* series”: Universal commissions a new opaque font called “Toretto Sans 0.5pt” for the asterisked list of “*Awards include Spike TV Guy’s Choice Award, Golden Trailers, Phoenix Film Critics Society (Best Stunts)” that is printed on the back of each poster.
March 30: Vin Diesel gravely tells Charlie Rose that the scene in which his car drives from one skyscraper into another and then smashes a bunch of statues is a commentary on ISIS’s senseless destruction of ancient artifacts. When Rose asks, “So in that metaphor, doesn’t that make your car ISIS?”, Diesel replies, “No, Charlie. And sometimes I wonder if Dom and the gang aren’t the only people who could stop ISIS. And I think that’s something Americans look for in this film.”
April 1: Much as The Theory of Everything used its subject, Stephen Hawking, to help promote his own biopic, the studio invites to the Furious 7 premiere the subjects of the original 1998 Vibe article that the first movie was based on. Unfortunately, the original article was actually about Bronx street racers who were not thieves…and who had little resemblance to any of the cast. To avoid disappointing comparisons, these racers are prematurely sent home, and when the cast is asked their whereabouts by the red-carpet press, they say:
Ludacris: “You didn’t see them? They must have already run in to the theater. Man, seventeen years later and those guys are still fast.”
Michelle Rodriguez: “And furious!”
Tyrese: “They must have headed in for the free popcorn. They hungry.”
They all laugh and high-five, while the press applauds the verisimilitude.
May 5: To endear the film to the “values” crowd, a companion book, The Fast and Furious Guide to a Happy Family, is rushed into stores, with Dr. Oz’s cover blurb, “If your kids are ‘driving’ you crazy, there’s no better manual for putting the ‘brakes’ on dysfunction!” While the first chapter is devoted to how important it is to constantly vocalize that you are a family (”repetition is the oil change of a close-knit family”), critics carp that the next 120 pages are all barbecue recipes and Corona coupons.
November 10: Following the Imitation Game playbook, in which Benedict Cumberbatch urged people to right a historic wrong by acknowledging Alan Turing’s accomplishments, Tyrese begins a Twitter crusade to get a postage stamp honoring the guy who invented NOS.
December 14: Knowing that actors make up the Academy’s biggest voting bloc, the Fast team produces a bonus video to tack on to its DVD screeners, “Steering the Way to Character: The Complex Art of Front-Seat Driving.” The short highlights the many disparate emotions the cast must convey while being filmed pretending to drive, from “Let’s do this!” to “Look out!” to “I’m swerving left!” to “I’m swerving right!” It is the exact tutorial Stanislavski would have given if he ever had the guts to take it up to 140 m.p.h.
December 20: Furious 7 is a clear frontrunner … until its momentum is abruptly cut off an insidious Harvey Weinstein whisper campaign arguing that Tyrese being forced to drive his car out of a plane sends a dangerous message about bullying and peer pressure. The narrative builds and Vin Diesel is forced to record a PSA urging kids not to make their friends drive out of planes. Furious 7 is not nominated, and its subsequent award take is limited to the MTV Movie Award for Best Rrrrrrr Crash Kapow Aoooogah.