Black Panther will be the recipient of Marvel Studios' first ever major awards campaign for Best Picture. Hitting theaters back in February, Ryan Coogler's superhero epic became a worldwide phenomenon, earning widespread critical praise and raking in over $1 billion at the global box office. Even for a franchise as successful as the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Black Panther seized the zeitgeist in a way few of its fellow titles have, representing a major step forward for onscreen diversity. Its powerful themes and messages (which reflected today's society) resonated with audiences - and it was clear Black Panther was more than just another superhero movie.
As the film continued to rewrite the record books and connect with millions of viewers, some felt Black Panther was transcendent enough to become the first superhero movie to be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. With this year's crop of awards contenders ready to make a splash at the various fall film festivals, Kevin Feige is working to make sure the voters don't forget about his acclaimed blockbuster.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Marvel has hired Oscar strategist Cynthia Swartz for the Black Panther push. They are targeting a Best Picture nomination, and not the new Best Popular Film category. Feige explained why he felt the film was deserving of such accolades, discussing Coogler's unique, personal-driven vision:
“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.' And that he did it so unbelievably well and with so much impact … seeing that potentially being recognized is what excites me the most.”
The Oscars have largely ignored superhero films in the more "prestigious" categories, save for Heath Ledger's posthumous Best Supporting Actor win for The Dark Knight and Logan's surprise nomination in Best Adapted Screenplay. With fans growing tired by the lack of recognition for well-received genre titles, Black Panther breaking through and earning a number of nods would be a refreshing turn of events. In addition to Best Picture, the film should be a contender in the various technical categories (as most tentpoles are). It'll also be interesting to see if any of the acting performances get attention. In particular, Michael B. Jordan earned strong reviews for his turn as villain Erik Killmonger - considered one of the MCU's best antagonists.
Of course, Black Panther seems like a shoo-in for the Best Popular Film Oscar, which was unveiled earlier this month. The announcement was met with heavy criticism, as several see it as a cynical attempt to pander to the masses and ensure Panther is part of the Oscars conversation. The Academy has yet to publish the criteria for the new category, and there's some belief within the organization the Popular Film award could be either delayed or pulled completely. Regardless of what happens there, hopefully Feige's money doesn't go to waste and Black Panther earns a spot at the Best Picture table.
Source: LA Times
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