Superhero films often dominate the box office every year, yet these films often fall short of earning recognition from prominent awards circuits, outside of their technical achievements. Black Panther has cracked the all-time top three highest-grossing films domestically, as well as being lauded by critics. Given the momentum it has earned in the months since its release, Disney is reportedly pushing for the film to be a contender for Best Picture at the next Academy Awards.
Directed by Ryan Coogler, the film has been talked about as deserving of a nomination since its release, though the Academy recently threw a possible wrench into the works when they announced next year's ceremony would honor "Popular Film" with new categories. The ambiguity of the announcement automatically results in viewers being wary that these categories were meant to honor "crowd-pleasers" instead of more artistic fare.
Rarely has the comic book realm cracked into any substantial categories, with the exception of Heath Ledger earning an Oscar for his role in The Dark Knight. Understandably, with the Academy still not having described what qualifies as a "popular film" and what it will mean for the ceremony, many pundits assumed the category was created to satisfy fans of blockbusters with the pandering award.
"Right now, I think [academy Chief Executive] Dawn Hudson would crawl in a hole if 'Black Panther' gets snubbed for best picture and winds up landing in the popular film category," one Oscar consultant shared with the L.A. Times. "The funny thing is that Dawn would be way more disappointed than anyone at Marvel."
Despite the creation of this new award, Disney is reportedly still gunning for the Best Picture nomination for the film. One of the biggest reasons for the push is that, while the film is ultimately a satisfying superhero epic, audiences connected with many of the deeper themes of T'Challa's journey.
"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,' " Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige shared previously about the film. "And that he did it so unbelievably well and with so much impact … seeing that potentially being recognized is what excites me the most."
Other films this year, such as Avengers: Infinity War, have earned similar numbers at the box office, though Black Panther's embrace of African culture made it feel like a movement more than a movie.
"You want to remind voters that this wasn't just a movie, it was a phenomenon," a veteran Oscar campaigner noted. "The depth of that impact, what it meant to people, what it stood for — if academy members didn't get it then, they need to understand it now."
With Coogler's acclaim for his films Fruitvale Station and Creed, Black Panther wouldn't be the first time he made a movie that got awards representation, though it would mark a first for superhero films.
Do you think Black Panther deserves a nomination for Best Picture? Let us know in the comments below!
[H/T L.A. Times]