Disney Is Right to Keep Oscars Focus on Black Panther Over Infinity War
2019 will be T'Challa's year. The Avengers can wait.
Last night, IndieWire ran a piece titled “Avengers: Infinity War Is Only Being Campaigned for One Oscar as Disney Wisely Prioritizes Black Panther,” which revealed that the popular superhero event flick would only be under consideration for Best Visual Effects.
Disney launched their For Your Consideration 2018 site, revealing which titles they planned on pushing for the upcoming awards race. The titles being pushed for top prizes are Black Panther, The Incredibles 2, Wreck-It Ralph 2, and Mary Poppins Returns. Infinity War is listed on the site, but only for the aforementioned award.
This makes sense. Mary Poppins and Wreck-It Ralph are hardly competition for the coveted Best Picture slot that Black Panther is aiming for. Infinity War, on the other hand, runs the risk of splitting the vote, even if no one really expected it to get a major nomination. IndieWire’s piece talks about the shock that might come to some because Josh Brolin’s turn as Thanos isn’t getting some attention, but let’s break this down a bit.
It goes on to mention that Brolin “earned acclaim for his villainous role in the film, with many critics crediting Brolin for fixing the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s villain problem,” and that “Gold Derby’s Jacob Sarkisian wrote in September that the acclaim for Brolin could make him a game-changing contender.” Thanos, whose entire arc is searching for six MacGuffins and crying because people tell him that genocide is bad, hardly solved the MCU’s villain issue. If anyone solved that, it was Michael B. Jordan in his powerful turn as Killmonger in Black Panther.
Brolin wasn’t even the best performer in the film. While Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, and Danai Gurira (who’s brief role reminds us that, yes, she still deserves an Oscar nod for Okoye in Black Panther) stole any scene they were in, the MVP of the film was Zoë Saldana as Gamora. Alternating between rage and grief, her performance was breathtaking; it’s a shame her arc was entirely based around the men in her life. No one in Infinity War really deserved an Oscar push though, especially not when precious time and campaigning will be needed to ensure Gurira and Jordan score the nominations they deserve.
Black Panther is definitely a comic book movie. I will not say it’s “more than that” or some other phrase meant to diminish the genre, because it’s the best example of what that genre can be. It will face hurdles getting into the big races that it so richly deserves, so Disney throwing all their weight behind what might be the best film to come out of the studio is a necessity. Infinity War was a fun, emotional movie, but Black Panther deserves to sweep like it’s Titanic. If that movie can pull it off, there’s no excuse for Black Panther, a much better movie (fight me), not to.
Besides, I have a sneaking suspicion that, with the coming grand finale of Avengers 4, Disney might do a big nostalgia push for the heroes that reshaped the superhero movie field. The 2020 Oscars could see Disney making a grand campaign to give the Avengers the Academy attention they’ve never quite been able to receive. I can easily see a push for Supporting Actor for Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr., depending on how well received their swan songs are, and Brolin will have another film to make his case for the Academy.
Right now, this is, and should be, Black Panther‘s year. Black Panther was a cultural event and a hugely important cinematic moment. To try to split the attention between too many campaigns and risk the film not getting the gold would be a massive disservice. Avengers 4, with the promise of a concrete ending for many of the characters, has a better shot than Infinity War does at breaking into bigger categories.
It won’t be as big a movie as Black Panther was in terms of importance, but it will still be an event film of the highest degree, though it will probably be overshadowed by the Skywalker Saga finale in Star Wars: Episode IX.
Disney’s Oscar strategy is starting to get better, and the thought of Black Panther For Your Consideration ads popping up everywhere thrills me. (I love FYC ads being plastered everywhere I look for about four months). There’s no disappointment here that Infinity War is taking the backseat, just a hope that the Academy will not have their heads up their butts and will not only nominate, but award Black Panther for being one of the best films of the year.
For the Avengers who aren’t currently piles of dust, there’s always next year.
(via IndieWire, image: Marvel)
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