She’s more than just Marvel-ous: Angela Bassett (‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’) is worthy of your Oscar vote

I get it, Oscar voters. You’ve never voted for a Marvel actor before now and, frankly, you probably felt a bit of trepidation when it came to marking off Angela Bassett‘s name on your Best Supporting Actress ballot. (Nominations voting ran January 12-17, and finals voting takes place March 2-7.) But in a world where two different Jokers can win acting Oscars (Heath Ledger in 2008’s “The Dark Knight” and Joaquin Phoenix in 2019’s “Joker”), why not Queen Ramonda, who dominates every moment of “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” with sheer regal ferocity?

Voting for the first-ever Marvel performance won’t lose you any awards cred — in fact, it may make you cooler than ever. Let me put it another way: the Marvel Cinematic Universe isn’t going anywhere. It’s the biggest franchise in box office history and will continue raking in billions of dollars for decades to come. One day — if not now, then in the near future — lightning will strike and a Marvel actor will win an Oscar. So why not this year? This is Angela Bassett we’re talking about. You’re not being asked to vote for Groot.

Sometimes at the Academy Awards, the timing just isn’t right for whatever reason and legendary performers are left out of the exclusive winner’s club. Don’t let that happen to Bassett. Sure, there might be a few of you curmudgeonly Oscar voters that simply won’t be able to see past the Marvel of it all, and cast their votes elsewhere. To that end, I’d like to remind awards pundits that the actress has three key factors going for her that could push her over the edge: awards momentum, fractured competition, and a worthy performance.

SEE Costume Designers Guild Awards nominations: Oscar frontrunner ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ …

Awards Momentum
At 64 years old, Bassett is a beloved Hollywood veteran who’s worked with virtually everyone in the industry, whether in films like “What’s Love Got to Do with It” (1993) and “How Stella Got Her Groove Back” (1998) or TV shows like “9-1-1” and “American Horror Story.” To date, she only has a single Best Actress Oscar nomination to her name for “WLGTDWI,” for which she won the Golden Globe. But thanks to the accolades she’s been receiving for “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” it’s a safe bet Bassett will receive Oscar bid #2 on January 24.

She’s already prevailed at the Golden Globes and Critics Choice Awards for this Marvel-ous role, with the SAG Awards and BAFTA bestowing their trophies next. Every time Bassett struts up to that podium to give a speech, she ends up going viral on social media with fans and celebs alike sharing her words and creating memes. Academy Awards members, wouldn’t you want your own Bassett moment?

Fractured Competition
The Best Supporting Actress lineup is chock-full of so many worthy contenders, it’s impossible for the awards groups to come to a consensus. Who are the five best of the year? The Globes picked Bassett, Kerry Condon (“The Banshees of Inisherin”), Jamie Lee Curtis (“Everything Everywhere All at Once”), Dolly de Leon (“Triangle of Sadness”) and Carey Mulligan (“She Said”). The Critics Choice went with Bassett, Condon, Curtis, Jessie Buckley (“Women Talking”), Stephanie Hsu (“Everything Everywhere All at Once”) and Janelle Monáe (“Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery”). The SAG Awards honored Bassett, Condon, Curtis, Hsu and Hong Chau (“The Whale”). The BAFTA Awards chose Bassett, Chau, Condon, Curtis, De Leon and Mulligan. Our own Gold Derby Awards recognized Bassett, Condon, Curtis, De Leon and Hsu.

Then there are possibilities like Claire Foy (“Women Talking”), Nina Hoss (“TAR”), Thuso Mbedu (“The Woman King”) and Michelle Williams (“The Fabelmans”) … we could go on. The point is, with such an overwhelming field of options for the Academy to choose from, Bassett stands out from the crowd like comfort food. She’s shown up everywhere so far and has even given a couple of tear-inducing speeches along the way. That’s why fractured fields can only help the front-runner.

A Worthy Performance
I saw “Wakanda Forever” in October at a screening for Screen Actors Guild members and I was gobsmacked by how much vocalized passion there was for Bassett every time Queen Ramonda appeared on screen. (No, Bassett did not attend this specific screening, so you can’t blame attendees being excited by her presence.) In fact, based on that strong reception, I was the first awards pundit to officially predict Bassett to win the Best Supporting Actress Oscar on October 27 … and I still believe it three months later.

In director Ryan Coogler‘s highly anticipated “Black Panther” sequel, Ramonda keeps charge of Wakanda after the death of her son, King T’Challa. Obviously, the real-life backstory is that Chadwick Boseman died shockingly in between the first and second movies, and so all of the pain and emotion you see on screen on Ramonda’s face was coming from a place of truth. Film critics heaped praises on Bassett’s performance, with Wendy Ide (The Guardian) calling her “commanding” and “magnificent,” and Esther Zuckerman (Hollywood Reporter) declaring, “Bassett owns the screen as a woman trying to hold her country together while also grappling with her sorrow.”

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