Road to Oscars: Black Panther

Black Panther was released in February of 2018. The film made history, featuring a predominantly black cast and breaking box office records internationally. Now it makes history again, being the first superhero movie to be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards of 2019.

The film re-introduces us to T’challa, played by Chadwick Boseman, and his struggles after his father's death, seen on Captain America: Civil War. He takes his place as the king of Wakanda and as the Black Panther, protector of the kingdom. The incredible part about Wakanda is that it hides the truth about itself from the world thanks to its technological advantages so that people think it's a third world country. Being hidden has protected Wakanda from war, invasion, and colonization.

As the new king with new enemies, T’challa has the support of his sister, Shuri (Letitia Wright); his mother, Ramonda (Angela Bassett); the priest, Zuri (Forest Whitaker); his honor guard, Okoye (Danai Gurira); and his former flame and covert agent, Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o). The Black Panther has a mission to catch Ulysses Klaue, a South African arms trader, who stole vibranium from their borders

The arms trader is working with an American soldier who is later revealed to be T’Challa’s cousin. He goes by the name Killmonger (Michael B Jordan) and wants to use Wakanda’s technological advantages to fight the racism and oppression around the world, by arming black oppressed people around the world. Even though Killmonger gets to be king for a while, T’Challa regains power at the end. He then takes what Killmonger said to heart and decides to share Wakanda’s riches with the world.

The fact that a superhero movie was given a Best Picture nomination is a shocker for some. This is because nominations for this category have mainly been given to drama films. Ten years ago, the conversation revolving around how this nomination was exclusively given to films belonging to specific genres was born because the movie The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan) did not earn the nomination, despite having deserved it. It's still considered one of the biggest steals in Oscar history. The backlash received for it made the Academy change the number of nominations for this category from 5 to 10, so that there would be more opportunities.

Black Panther still has to defeat incredible films like A Star is Born, Roma, Green Book, and Bohemian Rhapsody, but just the fact that it received a nomination is a historical moment for all superhero movies. Black Panther is not just popular, it's a great film that made history. It also has value as a culturally-reflective film since it addresses the implications of being black, not only in the US but also around the world.

Black Panther has 6 other nominations:

  • Best Picture

  • Best Costume Design for Ruth Carter

  • Best Music (Original Score) for Ludwig Goransson

  • Best Music (Original Song) for “All the Stars” Music by Kendrick Lamar, Mark “Sounwave” Spears and Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith; Lyric by Kendrick Lamar, SZA and Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith

  • Best Production Design for Hannah Beachler (Production Design); Jay Hart (Set Decoration)

  • Best Sound Editing for Benjamin A. Burtt and Steve Boeddeker

  • Best Sound Mixing for Steve Boeddeker, Brandon Proctor and Peter Devlin

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