‘Black Panther’: Hannah Beachler could achieve unprecedented Oscars feat for black production designers

Black Panther” is locked in close Oscars combat for Best Production Design against “The Favourite,” but “Panther” has already made history just by earning the bid. Hannah Beachler is the first black nominee in the history of the category, and just like that she could become the first black winner when prizes are handed out on February 24.

According to our racetrack odds, Beachler’s closest competition is another first-time nominee: Fiona Crombie for “The Favourite,” which is the kind of lavish period film that often prevails here, like recent winners “Lincoln” (2012), “The Great Gatsby” (2013) and “The Grand Budapest Hotel” (2014). Indeed, Crombie is the front-runner to win based on the combined forecasts of all Gold Derby users.

But our Experts beg to differ. We have polled more than a dozen Expert journalists from top media outlets thus far, and nine of them say Beachler is the woman to beat after her victory at the Critics’ Choice Awards: Eric Deggans (NPR), Edward Douglas (Weekend Warrior), Matthew Jacobs (Huffington Post), Tariq Khan (Fox TV), Andrea Mandell (USA Today), Jack Mathews (Gold Derby), Michael Musto (NewNowNext), Kevin Polowy (Yahoo) and Anne Thompson (IndieWire).

The other six Experts agree with the consensus that Crombie will be the academy’s “Favourite”: Thelma Adams (Gold Derby), Joyce Eng (Gold Derby), Tim Gray (Variety), Christopher Rosen (TVGuide.com), Peter Travers (Rolling Stone) and Susan Wloszczyna (Gold Derby).

There’s plenty of precedent for a sci-fi epic like “Black Panther” prevailing over a more traditionally designed costume drama. Oscar voters liked fantasy just fine when they awarded “Avatar” (2009), “Alice in Wonderland” (2010) and “Mad Max: Fury Road” (2015) in the last decade.

Luckily for both production designers, the impending Art Directors Guild Awards have separate categories for fantasy and period films, so our users think both “The Favourite” and “Black Panther” will get their chance in the winner’s circle, while “Crazy Rich Asians” is tipped to win the ADG Award for contemporary design.

So “Black Panther” could be on track to make Oscar history, unless “The Favourite” becomes the latest period film to win for literally making history.

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 winners are announced on February 24.

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