Chadwick Boseman says that ‘Black Panther’ isn’t gunning for the new ‘popular film’ Academy Award because that movie only deserves Best Picture consideration…
There’s been a lot of questions and controversy surrounding the announcement that at the 2019 Academy Awards, a new category will be introduced to celebrate the best in ‘popular film’.
The idea is that blockbuster movies — like those from Marvel or even ‘Star Wars’ — could go home with an Academy Award while it seems the major categories such as Best Picture or Best Director will stick with the current format where the majority of the films in recent years have been considered ‘arthouse’ movies.
The decision to institute a ‘popular film’ category has been criticized because in recent years the Oscars telecast has suffered a huge blow on ratings with many inside the industry believing it’s because the awards show tends to leave out most of the movies that the majority of audiences saw over the past year.
Another side to the controversy is that the Academy created this award just ahead of the 2019 show where ‘Black Panther’ will be up for the awards. ‘Black Panther’ was the highest grossing movie domestically in the U.S. and the second highest internationally (behind only ‘Avengers: Infinity War’) and it was a film beloved by critics and audiences alike.
But ‘Black Panther’ is a superhero movie and a major blockbuster and so few of those have ever been nominated for any major categories beyond a few acting awards over the years.
That being said, Chadwick Boseman says that if there’s any kind of campaign coming ahead of awards season, he’s not looking for a ‘popular film’ recognition — ‘Black Panther’ deserves to be in consideration for Best Picture.
“We don’t know what it [the new prize] is, so I don’t know whether to be happy about it or not,” Boseman told The Hollywood Reporter. “What I can say is that there’s no campaign [that we are mounting] for popular film; like, if there’s a campaign, it’s for best picture, and that’s all there is to it.”
Boseman argues that a quality movie is still quality regardless of how much money is made or how many people flooded into the theaters to see it. The last three winners for Best Picture — ‘The Shape of Water’, ‘Moonlight’ and ‘Spotlight’ — didn’t earn half of what ‘Black Panther’ did at the box office combined but all three movies cleaned up at the awards show.
Meanwhile, very few movies based on comic books have ever been nominated for any major awards outside of those in categories such as visual effects or sound editing. ‘Logan’ managed to get a best adapted screenplay nomination last year and Heath Ledger posthumously won best supporting actor for his role in ‘The Dark Knight’ a decade ago.
“A good movie is a good movie,” Boseman argued. “And clearly it doesn’t matter how much money a movie makes in order for it to be ‘a good movie’ [in the minds of Academy members] because if [it did], the movies that get nominated and win [which have tended in recent years to not be blockbusters] wouldn’t get nominated; and if it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter on both sides. For my money, the only thing that matters is the level of difficulty.”
When it comes to ‘Black Panther’, Boseman says there was nothing easy about making that movie, especially considering the world that had to be created to bring Wakanda to life.
“What we did was very difficult. We created a world, we created a culture,” Boseman said. “We had to create a religion, a spirituality, a politics; we had to create an accent; we had to pull from different cultures to create clothing styles and hair styles. It’s very much like a period piece. So, as far as that’s concerned, I dare any movie to try to compare to the [level of] difficulty of this one. And the fact that so many people liked it — if you just say it’s [merely] popular, that’s elitist.”
It will certainly be interesting when the nominations are announced early next year to find out where ‘Black Panther’ fits in the Academy Awards for 2019.