Marvel Studios and Disney are very serious about Black Panther‘s awards season prospects and are now beginning a comprehensive and long-lasting campaign to convince the Academy that it deserves recognition. Some might think they’re fighting an uphill battle, too, as the Academy has never smiled upon ‘genre’ pictures, with superhero movies generally receiving nods for special effects or makeup. The closest one’s come to genuine success is Heath Ledger’s posthumous Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for The Dark Knight.
Still, Black Panther is making a big push and it sounds as if things are kicking off with a star-studded exclusive screening of the movie for Academy members. You might note that the invitation below is from Alan Horn rather than Kevin Feige, as presumably the Chairman of Walt Disney Studios carries a little more clout than the ‘mere’ brainchild behind the MCU’s success. It also boasts a pretty damn impressive cast roster, with obvious highlights being appearances by Chadwick Boseman and Letitia Wright (though director Ryan Coogler is perhaps notable by his absence). And with a complimentary valet provided, who could say no?
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Despite the glad-handing and professional quality schmoozing, I still think Black Panther faces an uphill battle for awards season recognition. That’s partially because, while I thought it was great, it was still very much in the MCU mould. That means that while it paid lip service to heavy concepts like post-colonialism, African independence and African-American social discrimination, it doesn’t really have anything original to say about them.
That said, working in the film’s favor is that the Academy have scrapped their plans for an award for Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film, which Black Panther was expected to be placed in. With the expanded list of nominees and a certain amount of political pressure to recognize a popular, beloved movie featuring a black cast, it’s at least possible that we could see a Best Picture nod. I still think it’s a long shot, but Disney seem to have confidence that their campaign will pay off. I guess we’ll know for sure when the nominations are revealed.