Black Panther Will Win Best Picture



Every year, only one movie can stand supreme at the Academy Awards. This year, will it be Black Panther?


“Black Panther” is not Oscars material. It will also win Best Picture.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a remarkable movie, but what makes it remarkable is not its craft. The cinematography is lacking, the actual plot is fairly simple, the characters can feel oftentimes like mouthpieces for ideologies irrespective of any real characterization and the way it chooses to engage its social messages feels entry-level at best. The way it frames its ideas can make the audience feel like they’re attending a basic African-American Studies course, and the film’s primary conceit of an African utopia-state can make it feel too fantastical to take seriously. That said, none of these things make “Black Panther” necessarily a bad movie. To the contrary, within the boundaries of having to be both an entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and a film released by The Walt Disney Company, writer-director Ryan Coogler did an amazing job. Although, of course, “Black Panther” is the worst of the three films that he has directed.

Despite all this, “Black Panther” was still nominated for a bevy of Academy Awards, including the ever-coveted Best Picture category, the first superhero movie to ever receive such an honor. There are a variety of reasons for this, the very same reasons why I believe that “Black Panther” will take home that most envied of prizes when all is said and done. Not because it’s the best film nominated, but because if ever there was a time for a film like “Black Panther” to win, now would be it.

After all, 2018 was a fairly terrible year for the sorts of films that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences tend to like — which is to say historical dramas starring primarily white leads. None of the other eight nominees are particularly great movies and each have something going against them. “A Star is Born” is a remake, something that the Academy tends to overlook; “Roma” is in a foreign language and released on Netflix, which the Academy loves to hate; “The Favorite” is a great movie but perhaps too subversive to win; “Green Book,” “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Vice” simply do not have the quality to back up their nominations; and “BlacKkKlansman” is directed by Spike Lee, who the Academy has historically snubbed, and not to mention that “BlacKkKlansman” is hardly the best work that Lee has ever put forth.

In fact, if you were to look at the Rotten Tomatoes score of all the nominees, “Black Panther” actually has the highest out of all of them. This is not to say that “Black Panther” was universally beloved, but it does mean that critics hated it the least out of all the nominees which, when all the votes are tallied at the end of the day, may be the edge it needs. All of the other films have major detractors for one reason or another, except for “Black Panther.”

“Black Panther” also has another factor that elevates it above the competition: it was, and still is, a true cultural phenomenon. It created a fervor unlike any other when it was released. Communities gathered together to watch the film. Celebrities campaigned to bus people to free screenings. A whole new trend of pan-Africanism inspired by the fictional Wakandan nation-state made its way across the globe. Audiences were excited by “Black Panther,” and the same cannot be said for any other film nominated.

In a way, the film’s enduring popularity was not dissimilar to “Avatar,” nominated in 2010, and “Titanic,” which won Best Picture in 1998. “Titanic,” after all, was arguably not the best film that came out that year — but it was a film that everybody liked and nobody hated (at least, not until after the fact).

Then, of course, there is the matter of trends. At last year’s Oscars, Guillermo del Toro’s science fiction romance film “The Shape of Water” won Best Picture, busting through the sci-fi/fantasy ghetto that genre movies often have an issue getting past. The time of “Annie Hall” winning over “Star Wars” in 1978 is over.

It is also not an inconceivable notion that, after having so much controversy surrounding the Oscars’ fairness towards the race of nominees, it might just be a much-needed shot in the arm of the Academy if they let a film as black as “Black Panther” take home the biggest win of the night.

“Black Panther” will win Best Picture, as it is in the best possible position to win. Bet on it.