On January 22nd, 2019, the nominations for the 91st Academy Awards were announced, and… I am pretty shocked by them. Roma leading the pack with 10 nominations, including two acting nods, Timothee Chalamet left out, and Bradley Cooper snubbed in the Director category in favor of a foreign language film, one of two on the list! However, even after all the buzz and promotion, the one that shocked me the most was the fact that even with just 8 nominees for Best Picture this year, Black Panther was on the list.
Now we have been hearing about how good it is all year, and rightfully so. Black Panther is a well made movie that deserved all the other nominations it received like Sound Editing, Costume Design, and especially for it’s great score. Best Picture however… let me, a white male, tell you why Black Panther should not have been nominated for Best Picture.
First off, I’ll bring up the elephant in the room. People have been complaining about how it only was nominated because it kills two birds with one stone for the Academy, it was both extremely popular and it promotes racial diversity. My response to that is… yeah, you’re correct. Those are the main reasons it was nominated. It was a good movie but in today’s day and age, the Oscars try nominate a few movies with cultural relevance that while good, are not the actual best films of the year.
Films such as Selma, Milk, and one which actually won, Moonlight. These are all well made, good films, but they aren’t the best films of the year. They were took slots of other great films such as Nightcrawler, The Edge of Seventeen, and from 2008 with Milk, you can take your pick. The Dark Knight, Wall-E, Burn After Reading, Gran Torino, all great films which didn’t receive a nomination as another film took its space. This year, Black Panther took the spot of… well, so many films.
Looking at those films not nominated for Hollywood’s highest honor, there are no shortage of films which deserved the pick. There are films such as Thoroughbreds, Annihilation, Vox Lux, Widows, Sorry to Bother You, and so many more. However, there are two that when they weren’t announced I was shocked, those being First Man and If Beale Street Could Talk.
The former I understand a bit more, as First Man, while it came out in peak Oscar time, the hype has died down severely for many of its stars such as Ryan Gosling and Claire Foy, two people who were considered heavy favorites going into the season, snubbed from the contest. It’s lack of recognition was much less surprising than Barry Jenkins, director of Moonlight, latest film If Beale Street Could Talk getting snubbed.
Not only did it receive a nomination for Best Motion Picture – Drama at the Golden Globes, but it also received two major nominations for Regina King for Best Supporting Actress and Barry Jenkins for Best Adapted Screenplay. Everything seemed golden for Beale Street, as it also tackled racial issues and had very powerful and moving moments, but as it was announced, Academy voters decided that Black Panther deserved it more.
Now, the other big thing I want to talk about with Black Panther and why it didn’t deserve it is the fact that it wasn’t even the best Marvel movie of the year! If you grabbed someone on the street and asked them “What was the best film from the MCU released in 2018?”, they’ll most likely say one certain film, and I don’t mean Deadpool 2. Avengers: Infinity War, as I have noted in several polls, is believed to be better than Black Panther.
Look at review sites such as IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes, where Infinity War has a 12% percent lead on Black Panther. On IMDb, user reviews average is 1.1/10 higher, which is such a big difference that Infinity War is actually the 59th highest rated movie of all time on the site, while Black Panther did not even make the top 250. Infinity War, while it doesn’t touch on things such as racial relations or family dilemmas, it does balance having 24 major characters and not feeling overstuffed, it has incredible action which were mesmerizing to witness, and most importantly, it had one of the most memorable and emotional scenes of the year with the Snap, where I was the only person in the theatre who didn’t burst into tears.
Black Panther had the cultural milestone, but Infinity War is the better movie. So if the Academy were to nominate one superhero movie this year, it should have gone with Infinity War. Or Spider-Verse, that was great too.
So I’m sure I’ll catch a lot of criticism for this article, but it is called “Unpopular Opinions” after all, and I’m not trying to say Black Panther is a bad movie. As I said at the beginning, there are several fantastic aspects like the score, the makeup, the sets, and the costume design are all incredible. The nominations there were well deserved, but for Best Picture, it just wasn’t. That being said, I’ll still watch this year to see what wins, because if Black Panther ends up winning… well, I guess I can stop watching the Oscars.