2018 Awards Profile: Ryan Coogler’s “Black Panther’ from Marvel Studios

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Welcome to the 2018 Awards Profile series, where we talk about films coming to a theater near you at some point this year (at least at this time of writing). We will analyze the potential for these films to be players for the Academy Awards, and while many of these have the potential to be recognized, many will not, either by quality or being pushed back to the following year. For the next few weeks, we will bring you a film every Monday through Friday to talk about their awards hopes and analyze the film’s chances for success. If you have a suggestion, please include it in the comments below. If you missed a film, click on the tag or category Awards Profile.

FILM: “Black Panther”
PRODUCERS: Kevin Feige
DISTRIBUTOR: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

DIRECTOR: Ryan Coogler
WRITER: Ryan Coogler, Joe Robert Cole

CAST: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Andy Serkis

SYNOPSIS (via iMDB): T’Challa, the King of Wakanda, rises to the throne in the isolated, technologically advanced African nation, but his claim is challenged by a vengeful outsider who was a childhood victim of T’Challa’s father’s mistake.

WHY IT MIGHT SUCCEED:

With $1.3 billion in the bank and counting, Ryan Coogler’s “Black Panther” is a bona fide phenomenon. And with that success comes the inevitable question, “Will it be the first superhero movie to be nominated for Best Picture?” Naysayers will be quick to shut down any such Oscar talk, but in this new age of the Academy, its chances don’t seem so far-fetched.

For starters, it already seems to have one foot in the door, as Ruth Carter seems like a shoo-in Costume Design nominee for the dazzling array of colorful looks worn by the cast. Despite the highly popular cosplay subculture surrounding them, superhero movies have surprisingly never been nominated in this category. But with many fans praising the authentic, real-world inspiration behind the designs, Carter could breakthrough and possibly win.

From there, the likely nominations are slightly harder to gauge. A nod for Visual Effects is certainly a possibility and if the film really lands with voters, Production Design Sound Editing and Sound Mixing could be in the cards too. In addition, “All the Stars” could find a spot in the unpredictable Best Original Song race after making waves on the Billboard charts.

A serious Best Picture campaign requires more than just “below-the-line” nominations however. In this respect, the film’s buzz has largely surrounded the social relevance of its screenplay and the philosophical depth of its surprisingly empathetic villain. As such, the film has the potential to follow in the Oscar-nominated footsteps of “Logan” and “The Dark Knight” in the Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor categories respectively.

Finally, the most important argument for its Oscar potential is that the film is good. Very good. On Rotten Tomatoes, its 97% score ranks it as #1 among all superhero movies, surpassing the much-discussed “The Dark Knight”. And with its box office on its way to eclipsing “The Avengers” as the highest grossing superhero film as well, it will certainly feature heavily in year-end discussions.

WHY IT MIGHT NOT SUCCEED:

Hmm, a highly successful superhero movie showcasing an underrepresented demographic. Haven’t we been here before? Indeed, just last year we speculated about the Best Picture prospects for “Wonder Woman”, which had a similar pedigree to “Black Panther” and ended up completely shut out on nomination morning. Though there has been significant progress in the diversification of the Academy’s tastes, there still seems to be a lingering bias against superhero films, regardless of quality or cultural impact.

On that note, it’s still very early in the year. “Black Panther” is all the rage now, but who knows what the rest of the year will bring. There will certainly be many more traditional prestige films coming down the pike to unseat “Black Panther” from its precarious throne.

POTENTIAL OSCAR CATEGORIES IN PLAY:

  • Motion Picture
  • Actor in a Supporting Role – Michael B. Jordan
  • Adapted Screenplay (Ryan Coogler, Joe Robert Cole)
  • Production Design
  • Costume Design
  • Sound Editing
  • Sound Mixing
  • Visual Effects
  • Original Song – “All the Stars”

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS IN THE COMMENTS!

CHECK OUT THE FIRST OFFICIAL SET OF
YEAR-IN-ADVANCE OSCAR PREDICTIONS
AND SEE WHERE “BLACK PANTHER” RANKS!