Culturally speaking, Oprah Winfrey is still a force to be reckoned with, and as Black Panther continues its push for Oscar attention, the celebrity added some major clout to the campaign when she endorsed the movie in a room filled with more than 100 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences members.
The Hollywood Reporter was in attendance at the event held Monday night at the London West Hollywood hotel, where the talk show host, Oscar-nominated actress, and friend of Disney chief Bob Iger sang her praises for Ryan Coogler’s latest film.
“I just wanted to say that when I first saw Black Panther, I sent an email to my friend Bobby and said, ‘Hi Bobby! Just saw it. It’s worth everything I’ve heard and more. A phenomenon in every way, on every level. Makes me tear up to think that little black children will grow up with “Wakanda forever.” It’s game-changing, it’s pride-making, it’s dazzling, it’s phenomenal.’ That was my personal review.”
Needless to see, Winfrey was a fan of T’Challa’s standalone debut, and what’s more, she argues that the pic had a profound effect on plenty more viewers.
“I also know that throngs and throngs and so many people came, and came with their families, and then they went back and they got more family members, and then they went back and told their co-workers and their friends, because everybody recognized that something bigger than a movie was happening up on that screen. We all knew — those of us who have come from the culture and the history — how lit it was. It just gave us life! It gave us life! But it was so affirming for everyone who saw it because you knew that it was bigger than this moment — it was a cultural happening — and just to be in the theater was to be a part of all of that.”
You could certainly make the case that there wasn’t another movie in 2018 that matched the cultural impact of Black Panther, with the feature topping the list of most Googled films of the past twelve months. Obviously, there are plenty of people to credit for the flick’s success, but Winfrey went on to single out her friend Iger for plaudits.
“None of that could have happened without one man. You know, no matter how many thousands of people there are at Disney, the bottom line is, if he doesn’t say ‘yes,’ it doesn’t happen. I have admired and been a friend of Bob Iger’s for a very long time, and am just so respectful of his leadership. And I know that this happened the way it happened because of his leadership, because he had the good sense to hire Ryan Coogler. And then to let him execute his vision. So we are thankful to you, Mr. Iger, for that.”
Earlier this week, it was announced that Black Panther, along with its fellow MCU releases Avengers: Infinity War and Ant-Man and the Wasp, had all made the shortlists for various Oscar categories. Coogler’s film undoubtedly did the best out of the three, making the lists for Best Visual Effects, Best Original Score, Best Original Song (“All the Stars”), and Best Makeup and Hairstyling.
The nomination that Disney is really gunning for, however, is Best Picture, and while it’s never been done before for a superhero movie, Black Panther certainly has a better chance than any other feature released from the MCU, if not from the genre as a whole. That being said, as star Michael B Jordan recently remarked, a major Oscar nod would just be the “amazing icing on the cake” for a movie that’s already had a phenomenal year.