Academy Awards Proves Black Panther is Still the Most Influential Film of 2018

This year’s Oscars went better than expected.  Despite the lack of a host, the event had an audience of approximately 25.5 million and final numbers are looking at about 29.6 million.  According to Deadline, this brings the show closer to the kinds of numbers seen over the last decade. Based on Sunday’s award ceremony, ABC will likely push for the Oscars to continue to recognize more films like Black Panther and Bohemian Rhapsody.  This is great news from both an entertainment and a diversity point-of-view. The inclusivity of this year’s awards stands starkly in contrast of the #OscarsSoWhite movement that took the forefront of the award seasons of 2015 and 2016.

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Black Panther took home the awards for Best Original Music Score, Best Costume Design, and Best Production Design.  Along with the film being the first Marvel movie to win Academy Awards, the winners themselves did something unprecedented.  Costume designer Ruth Carter and production designer Hannah Beachler are the second and third Black women to win Oscars in non-acting categories in over thirty years, making history within five minutes of each other.  

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Sadly there was no La La Land/Moonlight mix-up where Black Panther or Roma actually won Best Picture.  Instead, the extraordinarily problematic film Green Book took home the award, and people are not happy about it.  The interracial road trip buddy film starring Viggo Mortenson and Mahershala Ali has been called “an inversion of Driving Miss Daisy” and “incredibly divisive.”  It was an unfortunate end to the night, but also ended up giving the Oscars more publicity post-airing. If you’re rightfully upset about this and wondering what the Academy was thinking, know that even though Black Panther didn’t win, it made history.  

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Black Panther is the first mega-budget movie to have a Black director and a predominantly Black cast.  The film ended up making $1.3 billion worldwide, making it the most successful Marvel movie in the U.S. in the studio’s cinematic history.  Despite the film’s creative success such as the costumes, production, soundtrack, and storytelling, much of the success lies in the fact that so many people went to see it.  The movie’s box-office success is so important because it calls out studio executives and white Hollywood, proving that people will go see a movie about a black superhero set in Africa.  Even though people of color have ways to go in terms of representation in film, Black Panther has dispelled the myth that “Black films don’t travel.”

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Along with financial success, Black Panther has affected Black people around the globe.  This film has showed young Black girls and boys that young Black people can be heroes too, and save the world with an afro, braids, or even be bald.  This past Halloween, many photos were uploaded of little Black children dressed up as Shuri, T’challa, Okoye, and Killmonger. The viral hashtag #WhatBlackPantherMeansToMe has been a way for Black people to express the impact that the film had on them.  Black Panther has shown that it’s more than just a film. It has brought people together, created community, and brought positivity to a group that is not accustomed to being praised.

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Despite whether people are upset at Black Panther getting snubbed at the Oscar’s or thinking that “it wasn’t all that anyway,” you cannot deny the global impact that this single film has had in one year.  While some people may say that Black Panther is just a movie that can solve all of Hollywood’s problems, it would be a terrible mistake for the film industry to return to the status quo after such a huge shift.  Regardless of whether Black Panther took home Best Picture, it was the most influential film of 2018.