This morning, the Academy of Arts and Sciences announced the nominees for the 94th Annual Academy Awards. As expected, artistic dramas The Favorite and Roma, each with stellar reviews and massive critical acclaim, dominate the award categories with ten nominations each. Another popular and critical favorite, the remake of A Star Is Born, came in third with eight nominations.
But then, coming in next, was Black Panther with seven nominations. And not simply technical nominations, either: Best Picture, as well as Production Design, Costume Design, Sound Design, Sound Mixing, Best Score, and Best Song.
If you’ve listened to our Black Panther panel, you know we loved the film. So in our estimation, it absolutely deserves the recognition. But traditionally, award shows have dismissed superhero films as mainstream pablum, not to be mentioned alongside “serious” film. We who enjoy these movies, of course, know differently. We know the difference between a simply fun, roller-coaster comic book movie and a cinematic artistic achievement that tells its story using superheroes as stand-ins for the rest of us. Until now, however, it seemed like the Academy either couldn’t tell the difference, or didn’t care.
It’s too early to know if this is a pivotal moment that has changed the game or not. Remember, the Lord of the Rings movies were very heavily nominated, but that didn’t result in a plethora of sci-fi/fantasy movies being nominated afterward. But it does mean that we now have evidence that the academy is paying attention. The hope is, now that studios know that these movies aren’t just profit machines, but can also build artistic reputations, they will put even more emphasis on not simply making more superhero films, but making excellent superhero films. Films like Wonder Woman, Black Panther, and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (which was also nominated this year for Best Animated Film).
But either way, whether Black Panther wins any awards or not, this is certainly a win for superhero movies, and for science-fiction/fantasy movies in general.
Published on: January 22, 2019