Black Panther a serious contender for Best Picture at the Academy Awards

Film critic Richard Roeper sat down with FanSided’s Mark Carman to lay out some Oscars predictions.

For the first time in Oscars history a superhero movie could walk away with the night’s biggest award.

Critical and box office darling Black Panther was a cultural phenomenon when it was released in February 2018. Breaking all sorts of box office records, the most unique installment in the Marvel universe also carried a ton of cultural significance being the first major superhero movie to feature a predominately black cast.

With the race for Best Picture as wide open as its been in years, film critic Richard Roeper sees a path for Black Panther to win the award.

“In the last two years the Academy has added 1,500 new members, and they’re almost all under the age of 50, and 49 percent of them are individuals of color,” Roeper told FanSided’s Mark Carman. “It’s become a more diverse voting block, and it’s a huge box office success which The Academy does like to reward.”

That increased diversity among voters is no coincidence. In fact it probably wouldn’t have happened if not for the criticism The Academy received in 2016 when every acting category featured nothing but white actors for the second year in a row. That sparked the hashtag “#OscarsSoWhite” to begin trending on Twitter, and actors began speaking out against the lack of diversity in the nominees.

Even though it took a Twitter hashtag for The Academy to realize how whitewashed their award show is, at least they are working toward improving diversity in the film industry.

For Black Panther, while it does appear to check off a lot of the boxes that typically get rewarded with Best Picture honors, the only big award it has received this year is at the Screen Actors Guild where it took home the award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. It might not mean anything when it comes to the Oscars, but the movie that tends to win Best Picture has typically been winning all awards season.

Roeper thinks that because Black Panther was so beloved by nearly everyone it could get a lot of people throwing votes in its direction.

“I could see a lot of people looking at the ballot and going ‘you know what, I’m going to vote for Black Panther. Probably not going to win, but I’m going to give it my vote,'” Roeper said. “If enough people do that, it wins Best Picture.”

If Black Panther does win, it will be the second time in three years that a movie featuring a predominately black cast wins Best Picture at the Oscars after Moonlight took home the award in 2016.