The Ukrainian World Congress Literally Wrote A Letter To The Academy About Why Tom Cruise And Co. Don’t Deserve Any Oscars For Top Gun: Maverick

There are some true big-screen, heavy hitters that are included in the list of 2023 Oscar nominations, and Top Gun: Maverick sits amongst them. The long-awaited sequel managed to scoop up several major noms, including Best Picture. While fans and leading man Tom Cruise have been celebrating the achievements, not everyone is pleased with the nods. It would seem that it’s the Ukrainian World Congress that’s not happy about the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences honoring the film. And the organization literally wrote a letter explaining why it thinks Cruise’s box-office juggernaut doesn’t deserve any of the prizes from the association.

The Ukrainian World Congress is unhappy with Top Gun: Maverick’s Academy Awards nominations because the movie apparently received funding from a Russian oligarch. Said person is Dmitry Rybolovlev, who indirectly contributed money to the movie by way of a silent investment in New Republic Pictures, according to Newsweek. As mentioned by the publication, Rybolovlev is one of several Russians that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has sanctioned in the midst of the ongoing war. In the letter, which was shared with the outlet, UWC president Paul Grod shared his and his colleagues’ exact grievances with this portion of the movie’s funding: 

The Ukrainian World Congress expresses its serious concerns over Russia's influence on the Hollywood film industry. 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.

Aside from claiming that Dmitry Rybolovlev’s involvement was not made public, Paul Grod also suggested that it could’ve led to Maverick’s story being edited. The congress head, who’s also the CEO of Rodan Energy, added further remarks in regard to his argument, saying: 

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.

It should be noted that Russia has played a role in a number of blockbuster films over the years. 007 and Die Hard movies are just a few to have had villains who hail from the country, and those franchises are also known to alter their bad guys quite frequently. In terms of this Top Gun-related matter, New Republic Pictures (which has invested in several Paramount Pictures productions over the years) reportedly doesn’t have creative input. Nevertheless, NR CEO Bradley Fisher alleged (amid a breach of contract lawsuit) that Dmitry Rybolovlev contributed a significant amount of cash to the 2022 movie. As of this writing, Paramount has not issued a response to the letter.

As it stands, Top Gun: Maverick is still up for Best Picture, Adapted Screenplay, Original Song, Sound, Film Editing and Visual Effects at this year’s Academy Awards. However, Tom Cruise himself didn’t snag an Oscar nod for Best Actor. As the film picked up momentum going into awards season, many assumed the actor would receive some love there. Despite that, he is still nominated as a producer as part of the Best Picture honor. Plus, Cruise has been getting plenty of praise for the film regardless, with Steven Spielberg even telling him that he “saved Hollywood’s ass.” 

After the film's massive performance in 2022, industry officials and fans alike will surely be watching to see if it manages to take any gold statues. And if it does, we’ll have to wait and see if the Ukrainian World Congress decides to offer up any further thoughts. 

The 95th Academy Awards air tonight, Sunday, March 12 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC. Also, those who’d like to check out Top Gun: Maverick can stream it using a Paramount+ subscription.

Erik Swann
Senior Content Producer

Erik Swann is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend. He began working with the publication in 2020 when he was hired as Weekend Editor. Today, he continues to write, edit and handle social media responsibilities over the weekend. On weekdays, he also writes TV and movie-related news and helps out with editing and social media as needed. He graduated from the University of Maryland, where he received a degree in Broadcast Journalism. After shifting into multi-platform journalism, he started working as a freelance writer and editor before joining CB. Covers superheroes, sci-fi, comedy, and almost anything else in film and TV. He eats more pizza than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.