By Joey Nolfi
October 19, 2016 at 06:37 PM EDT
Credit: Brent N. Clarke/WireImage

After helming a $161 million hit that generated soft precursor attention from the Screen Actors Guild and the Writers Guild of America, Straight Outta Compton director F. Gary Gray was largely left out of the Best Director race amid the #OscarsSoWhite controversy. Vin Diesel, who appears in Gray’s upcoming Fast & Furious 8, says the filmmaker’s take on the long-running action franchise might be good enough to earn the 47-year-old the kind of awards season recognition he deserved last year.

Speaking to Entertainment Tonight during a promo tour for his new movie, Ang Lee’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, the actor said the film is “different” and “very dark” in comparison to previous Fast films thanks to Gray’s specific take on his character, Dominic Toretto.

“He’s coming off of a lot of emotion [from movie] seven, and the loss that seven represents… it’s kind of cold-blooded. It is going to hit you like a ton of bricks. Everything is going to make sense,” Diesel said.

He went on to herald Gray’s work on the film, which also stars returning cast members Michelle Rodriguez and Dwayne Johnson to series newcomers like Helen Mirren and Charlize Theron, as bound for Oscar glory.

“As bizarre as that might be, he is definitely going to [be recognized],” Diesel said. “As crazy as that might sound, he should have really been acknowledged for Straight Outta Compton. I think he went into making this movie with a little bit of a chip [on his shoulder], going ‘Oh, really? Now I’m going to take the biggest saga in the world, and I’m about to throw Oscars at you.’ Wait until you see what he does!”

This isn’t the first time Diesel has tried to push a Fast & Furious film into the Oscar race. He previously told the Los Angeles Times Fast Five should have been a major contender at the 2011 Academy Awards, while he told Variety Furious 7 would be “the biggest movie in history” and could “probably win best picture at the Oscars, unless the Oscars don’t want to be relevant ever.”

Fast & Furious 8 hits theaters on April 14, 2017. Watch Diesel discuss the film’s Oscar chances in the video above.