Black Panther was the biggest movie of 2018. Oh sure, Avengers: Infinity War made more money, but Black Panther was right behind as the #2 moneymaker of the year, and there is no denying that it was THE cultural film moment of 2018. No movie made a bigger impact last year than Black Panther. And still we worried about its chances for an Oscar nomination. Even though it is widely regarded as one of the best superhero movies ever, and just an all-around well-made film, we fretted the Academy would ignore it because superheroes. It’s not a genre they have traditionally loved. But Black Panther continued its history-making run and scored SEVEN Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, making it the first superhero movie to get nominated for the big prize.
This is very exciting, but the other six nominations are also very exciting. Ruth Carter got nominated for her outstanding costume design, Hannah Beachler just became the first black woman nominated for Best Production Design, Ludwig Goransson’s score got a surprise nomination, it got nods in both sound categories, and “All The Stars” got an expected song nomination, which means Kendrick Lamar and SZA at the Oscars. Black Panther basically did what I thought First Man would do, which is rack up a bunch of craft nominations and work up to a Best Picture nomination even though there is no Best Director nod. Ryan Coogler did not get recognized, which, along with Michael B. Jordan, was always a long shot. It would have been fun if they had been nominated, but the Oscars are not yet THAT cool.
Still, this is a huge morning for Marvel Studios, the only people in town as excited as Netflix right now. They’ve broken a barrier and gotten superheroes out of the Best Visual Effects side-table at the Oscars (which is where Avengers: Infinity War landed). It should have been The Dark Knight before them, but that f-ckup led to the expanded Best Picture field which opened the door for Black Panther. The Dark Knight had to crawl so that Black Panther could walk, and maybe someday, a superhero movie will run and actually win the damn thing.
Because these nominations ARE the win for Black Panther. Every category they’re in is stacked, so actual wins will be hard to come by. Ruth Carter might be their best shot at a trophy, but her category is a clash of titans, putting her up against legendary designer Sandy Powell (a double nominee for The Favourite and Mary Poppins Returns), as well as two other exceptional designers, Mary Zophres and Alexandra Byrne (both of whom have also worked on Marvel movies). That is one of the most competitive categories this year, but Carter has a helluva body of work behind her (including two previous nominations), so this could be a “it’s her time” year in costume design. Although the same could be said for Mary Zophres. See? STACKED!
Best Song is almost certainly going to A Star is Born. Production Design is, once again, competing with The Favourite, and Roma which is more lowkey than either Black Panther or The Favourite, but is extremely well designed and people have noticed. Sound and score are the categories that could surprise, though sound is tough thanks to First Man.
This will be a VERY competitive year at the Oscars. Presumed frontrunners have been knocked down a peg, there are surprise nominations all over the place, and Black Panther came through with SEVEN nominations. Seven! That is so many! That’s more than Green Book and Bohemian Rhapsody! It almost doesn’t matter if Black Panther actually wins anything. Being this competitive is more than anyone expected. But then, Black Panther has always blown the lid off the expectations. The Oscars are no different.