Marvel Positioning Black Panther for a Best Picture Nomination
When the news broke that the Oscars were expanding to create an “Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film” category, there was, to put it mildly, some concern. Lots of critics, like The New Yorker‘s Richard Brody, weighed in on why this wasn’t a good idea. He brought up two films from recent years that were both extremely popular and worthy of Best Picture nominations:
“Occasionally, those big-budget movies are made by inspired directors who, granted sufficient freedom, transform their studio productions into original and personal works that can stand beside other, more conspicuously personal films—I’m thinking of ‘Wonder Woman’ and, especially, of ‘Black Panther,'” Brody wrote. It seems as if Marvel Studios agrees.
The Los Angeles Times reports that Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige , who has been unsurprisingly vocal about Black Panther‘s Oscar-worthiness, has championed the Black Panther Best Picture cause with an Oscar campaign with a serious awards season budget. Films that earn a Best Picture nom aren’t just critically acclaimed (most of the time), they’re also almost always the films that are given a healthy Oscars campaign by their studios. Black Panther would mark the first time Marvel has made a serious push at a Best Picture nomination, and it comes at a time when the Academy is considering a whole separate award for the exact types of films Marvel makes—hugely successful and expertly crafted.
“I would like to see the hard work and the effort and the vision and the belief of the talented filmmaker Ryan Coogler, who sat across the table from us a few years ago and said, ‘I have been wrestling with questions about my past and my heritage and I think I really want to tell a story within this movie,’” Feige told the Los Angeles Times. “And that he did it so unbelievably well and with so much impact…seeing that potentially being recognized is what excites me the most.”
This already sounds like the start to a very good Oscar campaign, with Feige focused on how the mega-hit Black Panther was also a very personal film, one that came from a young artist and his collaborators wrestling with some very real, deep emotions. What’s more, Black Panther offered fans around the world a vision of a more inclusive Hollywood, proving that audiences were open and eager to seeing a film by and starring a predominately African-American cast and crew.
Black Panther is obviously worthy of a Best Picture nomination. It’s the rare auteur-driven superhero movie, significant to its creators and to its massive audience alike. Whether the Academy sticks to their plan of creating an Oscar for “achievement in popular film” or not, Black Panther is deserving of the regular old Best Picture nomination, the one that’s been bestowed on hugely popular and smaller, more intimate films alike. Black Panther made history in many ways, and ticket sales were only a part of the story. Here’s hoping Marvel’s Oscar push resonates with voters, and that Black Panther‘s nomination for Best Picture makes the Academy think twice about creating a new category it really doesn’t need.
Featured image: Marvel Studios’ BLACK PANTHER..L to R: Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) and T’Challa/Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman)..Ph: Matt Kennedy..©Marvel Studios 2018