By John H. Foote

To be clear, I do not believe Black Panther is the year’s best film, for me it is not even in the top 10. In fact, to go a step further I do not consider the film the best superhero film ever made, that distinction still belonging to The Dark Knight (2008). Christopher Nolan’s’ second in his trilogy was nominated for eight Academy Awards, winning Best Supporting Actor, but to the eternal shame of the Academy they did not nominate either Nolan or the film. I suspect Wonder Woman (2017) came very close to inclusion in the Best Picture category, but just missed out.

Politically, Black Panther solves a lot of problems for the Academy as winner, but does not solve the primary issue with the Academy, in that it is not a film for the ages. Does that matter? Of course not, many average films have bested masterpieces for Best Picture, that has been happening since the beginning of the Academy Awards.

Black Panther as Best Picture eliminates many problems within both the Academy and film industry, and could very well power its way toBest Picture.

The issues?

It Brings Disney That Long Coveted Best Picture Award

Old Walt really wanted a Best Picture winner and when Mary Poppins (1964) racked up thirteen nominations, he thought this was his time. But no, the Academy chose to honour My Fair Lady (1964) as Best Picture. Since Disney has had Beauty and the Beast (1991), Up! (2009) and Toy Story 3 (2010) nominated for Best Picture, and could score two this year with Black Panther and the soon to open to glowing reviews Mary Poppins Returns. This could be the year of the cat.

It would Make Super Hero Films Legitimate Art

They are not there yet. Yes, The Dark Knight was an astonishing film, bolstered by a brilliant, unsettling Heath Ledger as The Joker, but its sequel was just ok. Both The Dark Knight, my pick as the best film of 2008, and Wonder Woman were outstanding films, but because each was a massive blockbuster, making hundreds of millions how could they be great films? You see moneymakers in the Academy’s eyes cannot be great films because, after all, what do mainstream audiences know? Oddly some of the top-earning Best Pictures include Gone with the Wind (1939), West Side Story (1961), The Sound Of Music (1965), The Godfather (1972), One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975), Rocky (1976), and Dances with Wolves (1990) to name a few. Most superhero films make staggering amounts of money but are often special effects films. A few have been great movies, but only a few.

It Would Bring an Oscar for Best Picture to a Popular Film

Argo (2012) is the only relative big money maker since 2008 to win Best Picture. The others broke even, barely, or made a small profit. The Hurt Locker (2009) made its cost back but little else. Earlier this year the Academy stupidly announced a new award for Best Popular Film, which after brutal criticism they withdrew. How perfect if Black Panther, a hugely popular film, wins the Oscar for Best Picture.

It Might Bring Back Young People to the Oscars

Young people have drifted away from the Academy Awards over the last twenty years. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) was the last blockbuster to win Best Picture and in the years since the Oscars have felt out of touch. In 15 years, the only Best Picture choices I agree with are the aforementioned The Return of the King (2003) and The Departed (2006). They have not even nominated many worthy films.

It Should Help with the Dropping TV Ratings

Popular films nominated should bring back audiences, then cut those stupid musical numbers, just give the awards, honour the deceased and end it. Two hours, easy, tops. But they must nominate some popular films. Jaws (1975) was nominated, so was Star Wars (1977), when did populist films stop earning nominations?


This year could be the greatest for diversity among the nominees. Picture this: both Black Panther and BlacKkKlansman are up for Best Picture, along with Green Book, If Beale Street Could Talk and Crazy Rich Asians, all studies set within non-white worlds. Mahershala Ali, Regina King, John David Washington, Michelle Yeoh, and several other actors of colour could be nominated as well as Spike Lee, Ryan Coogler or Barry Jenkins for Best Director.

How perfect a scenario is this for the Oscars?

Black Panther wins Best Picture, Spike Lee wins a long-overdue Best Director Award, Regina King wins Best Supporting Actress, and Mahershala Ali wins Best Supporting Actor.

It could happen.

I do not believe Black Panther is the years best film, but it does matter, it is headed for eight to 10 nominations and could just run away with a Best Film.


Leave a comment