‘Black Panther’ claws its way into Oscar race with FYC event featuring Ryan Coogler, Kevin Feige, and more

Black Panther” clawed its way into the Oscar race with a recent FYC event for awards voters and journalists. The exclusive soiree, held at the London Hotel in West Hollywood, featured director and co-writer Ryan Coogler, producer Kevin Feige, co-writer Joe Robert Cole, cinematographer Rachel Morrison, film editors Debbie Berman and Michael P. Shawver, composer Ludwig Göransson, visual effects supervisor Geoffrey Bauman, casting director Sarah Finn, and executive producer Nate Moore. The party was hosted by LucasFilms head Kathleen Kennedy.

Kennedy, an eight-time Oscar-nominated producer best known for her collaborations with Steven Spielberg (including Best Picture contenders “E.T.,” “The Color Purple,” “War Horse” and “Lincoln”), feted Coogler and the creative artists behind this box office behemoth. The film recently crossed the $700 million mark, making it the highest grossing 2018 release thus far at the domestic box office (Marvel’s subsequent film, “Avengers: Infinity War,” is close behind in second place with $678 million).

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But will all that box office green lead to Oscar gold? After all, Christopher Nolan‘s “The Dark Knight” topped the 2008 box office tally and was widely expected to compete in Best Picture, especially after snagging DGA, PGA, and WGA bids. Yet despite getting eight total nominations and two wins (including a posthumous Best Supporting Actor victory for Heath Ledger), it failed to make the cut in the top category. Will the same fate befall “Black Panther”?

Its chances are certainly helped by an expanded Best Picture field. After “The Dark Knight” was snubbed the academy doubled the category from 5 nominations to 10. It was changed again a couple of years later to a sliding scale between 5 and 10 nominees, but in those years there have never been fewer than eight contenders. So “Knight’s” loss could be “Panther’s” gain.

Voters might also want to acknowledge it as a way to keep the academy from following through with its widely-derided Best Popular Film category, a race the superhero epic seemed likely to dominate until the idea was nixed by the Board of Governors for further tinkering.

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Certainly it could make its way into a Best Picture lineup on the strength of its critical acclaim alone (it currently holds a 97% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes). But perhaps what helps it the most is its social significance. Made with a predominately black cast and crew (not to mention quite a few women), the film shows the power of diversity at a time when we desperately need that message reinforced.

So will “Black Panther” be the first superhero film to score a Best Picture nomination? Our racetrack currently has it ranked eighth with odds of 13/1, so it’s possible. And if the massive turnout for this Disney-hosted event is any indication, that bit of history just might happen.

Be sure to check out how our experts rank this year’s Oscar contenders. Then take a look at the most up-to-date combined odds before you make your own Oscar predictions. Don’t be afraid to jump in now since you can keep changing your predictions until just before nominations are announced on January 22.

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