As we’ve seen over the last few weeks, many of Hollywood’s biggest names have been rallying around their friends in the Oscar race. It happens every year – celebrities campaigning for each other, hosting screenings and dinners, posing for photos, making sure Academy members know who’s the most popular, who’s the most beloved, who deserves their vote the most.
Right now the Best Picture race is looking tight, perhaps the most competitive it’s been in years. A Star is Born is the presumed favourite but it’s far from a lock. Green Book seemed like it was in great shape at the beginning of the fall, right after TIFF, but it hasn’t performed at the box office and it’s been accused of whitewashing and in accuracy. Earlier this week, Mahershala Ali actually apologized to Don Shirley’s family (he plays Don Shirley in the film) for what the Shirley family has called the “symphony of lies” and narrative falsehoods presented in the film. Reviews for Vice, meanwhile, have been mixed. Critics are definitely hot on Christian Bale’s performance but the film overall doesn’t seem to be getting the same kind of reaction as the other top contenders in the field like The Favourite, Roma, If Beale Street Could Talk, BlackkKlansman, and, of course, Black Panther.
Black Panther was one of the biggest movies of the year. Black Panther, however, is an Oscar underdog. Because no one knows whether or not the Academy will finally recognize a superhero movie in the Best Picture category.
Last night Oprah hosted a Black Panther screening with Bob Iger. This is major power. Bob Iger is the chair and CEO of Disney. Oprah is, well, Oprah. And both of them were there, along with Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige, to honour Ryan Coogler and Black Panther. As THR’s Scott Feinberg said on Twitter:
Major news for BLACK PANTHER's Oscar prospects: On Monday, Oprah is hitting the campaign trail for the film. That is, to quote our next president, "a big f—ing deal."— Scott Feinberg (@ScottFeinberg) December 14, 2018
So, evidently, this is the kind of muscle they think they need to put behind the Black Panther campaign. For the nomination first. Not just for Black Panther but, hopefully, for Ryan in the Best Director category and Michael B Jordan for Best Supporting Actor. And then… if they get the nominations, in the major categories, in addition to the technical categories, they’ll build from there. All the experts are predicting that Black Panther will indeed get a nomination for Best Picture but, like, in the lower positions up to 10 spots. Few are putting it at the top of the list. Indiewire’s Anne Thompson is the only one who has it in the #1 position. I agree with her – is this naïve? I really think we could be looking at a Black Panther-A Star is Born showdown. Two of the most “popular” movies of the year going head-to-head in a year when the Academy tried to introduce a “popular” category where both of those movies would have been placed. Is this possible?
Here are Oprah and Bob Iger delivering their remarks last night as Ryan Coogler and cast members Chadwick Boseman, MBJ, and Daniel Kaluuya look on. Three videos in the thread.
Oprah toasts BLACK PANTHER, part 1... pic.twitter.com/yrJcyWVNUc— Scott Feinberg (@ScottFeinberg) December 18, 2018
Attached - Michael B Jordan leaving a Christmas party in LA on the weekend.