"Universal is going to have the biggest movie in history with this movie," he tells Variety. "It will probably win best picture at the Oscars, unless the Oscars don't want to be relevant ever."
Just in case you're not sure you read that right, Diesel doubles down on the sentiment: "This will win best picture," because "there is nothing that will ever come close to the power of this thing."
At first glance, Diesel's prediction is totally crazy and off-the-rails — not unlike the "Fast and the Furious" franchise itself. But is it so crazy it just might work? Your mileage may vary on whether you think "Furious 7" is a serious Oscar contender, but is the idea completely
Ludacris ludicrous? Let's play this out for a minute...
"Furious 7" would not be the first Oscar contender with major car chase scenes.
1971 winner "The French Connection," for instance, features a massive, edge-of-your-seat street race as Popeye Doyle races through Brooklyn trying to catch up with a runaway train.
Don't forget about "Inception," while we're at it…
A cerebral thriller, sure, but also a massive action movie, that features a highly stylized car sequence of its own.
And then there's "Crash," the 2005 Best Picture winner…
Oh, that's not about super-stylized car chases? Whoops. Okay, moving on.
What about "Traffic," one of 2000's Best Picture nominees?
Not about cars, either? This is getting awkward.
How about "Pulp Fiction," then?
The 1994 contender has more than a few big moments on the road, from Vincent Vega shooting off a hostage's head thanks to a pesky speed bump, to Butch Coolidge plowing his car through Marsellus Wallace and directly into another vehicle.
While we're talking Tarantino…
The man has had his fair share of Best Picture nominations, including "Inglourious Basterds" and "Django Unchained." No car chases in either movie, but they are both completely insane, what with the Basterds successfully executing their plan to execute Hitler (complete with gratuitous camera footage of machine gun fire ripping him to shreds), and Django shooting everything that moves inside Candyland, all to the tune of Tupac Shakur. It's more violent, perhaps, but just as stylized and bug-nuts bananas as a "Fast and Furious" film.
Big-budget movies don't always land at the Oscars…
...but when they do, they're the biggest movies of the year. Take "Avatar," for instance. The James Cameron blockbuster, still the highest-grossing movie in Hollywood history six years after its release, was considered a legitimate threat to unseat "The Hurt Locker" for Best Picture, thanks in large part to groundbreaking special effects and a highly imaginative world, among other characteristics.
And right alongside "Avatar"…
…there was "District 9." Neill Blomkamp's directorial debut about injustice against aliens in near-future South Africa earned its place at the Best Picture-nominated table for its social commentary, but you're kidding if you think the outrageous amounts of explosive, inventive action didn't play a factor.
Consider other franchises, too.
"Furious 7" would be in good company as far as franchise films getting a Best Picture nomination. No one knew it at the time, but the Oscar-nominated "Star Wars" would go on to launch one of the most successful and recognizable franchises of all time. And as for established franchises, 2003 saw "The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King" sweep at the Oscars, winning every single one of its 11 nominations, Best Picture included.
In other words, a "Furious 7" victory is not impossible.
Not that it's terribly likely, either, mind you; movies like "Furious 7" don't find themselves hobnobbing with Oscar bigwigs all that often. But it's happened before, and it could happen again. Diesel's right that "Furious 7" is going to be absolutely massive financially, and it's going to have reviews on its side as well, from both critics and fans alike. There's the emotional component of Paul Walker's death that will paint the film with an all-new coat of intensity and tragedy, the likes of which haven't been seen in previous "Furious" films.
Look, in all likelihood, "Furious 7" is probably not going to win Best Picture, and even a nomination is a reach — sorry, Vin. But that said, it's not the most far-fetched idea on the planet, either... and if this franchise is ever going to stand a chance at winning Oscar gold, it's right now.
"Furious 7" opens on April 3.