Why Black Panther Should Win Best Picture
Black Panther should win Best Picture at Oscar 2019 because the films about Black people in Africa that have walked away with that honor, have featured the damning narrative that elevates Whiteness with the trusted “White Savior” complex, that Hollywood loves to propel to the heights of notoriety because of how it validates the sovereignty of colonialism and slavery.
Take for instance the best picture victory of the “epic romantic drama” Out of Africa in 1985, and how the film that was “loosely based” on the book by Isak Dinesen, who was really a Dutch woman named Karen Blixen, sweepingly captures the privileged exploits of an adventurous aristocrat in Nairobi, British East Africa. The mere fact that Baroness Blixen was able to endure the wildness of her rugged resort in the middle of a game reserve, while also taming the brutishness of her loyal Black servants, gave her the audacity to detail her experience in a best-selling book, that later became a box-office success, before becoming an award-winning masterpiece.
In The Heat of the Night was the big winner of 1967, and while the screenplay that was uprooted from the book of the same name, written by John Ball, was decent enough, it still followed the rulebook of how Blackness can’t be endorsed by Whiteness until the prematurely condemned Black man has flawlessly proven his civility after successfully passing a slew of personality tests.
And of course 12 Years a Slave was the glorious achievement of 2013, and for good reason. The film was a heartbreaking catalog that graphically illustrated the horrors of slavery through the wearied vision of a warrior named Solomon Northup, a free African-American man from New York State, who e kidnapped by two White thugs and sold into slavery.
White Hollywood lives for offerings that showcase Black pain at the hands of White slave masters; and then that flicker of kindness from the unexpected “White Savior,” who warmly beckons with the promise of a brighter tomorrow.
The brilliant embrace of 2016 best picture winner— Moonlight was absolutely warranted and appreciated, but all that love from White Hollywood also reinforced the obsession with Black films that display tortured Black characters who are tasked with bravely fighting their way through imposing challenges.
We saw that with 2009’s Precious, and how its popularity with White audiences was propelled by the “gawker mentality” of watching an obese Black girl, swimming in abuse and poverty, in a society that values Whiteness above all else, and how that truth makes the forecast for Precious vividly bleak.
We saw it with the 2011 release of The Help, and how the critically-acclaimed reception by White male critics only proved how the biased narrative that buried the Black women characters and celebrated the angelic mission of the brave young White woman played by Emma Stone, who was meant to save them — added to the falsehood of its authenticity,
Both Precious and The Help were nominated for best picture Oscars, but didn’t win.
Oscar 2019 is bloated with an interesting mix of best picture contenders, including the embattled entry Green Book, that has managed to weather the controversies that should’ve kicked it out of the running, when you consider the severity of the accusations levied by the Shirley family.
But again, the Academy’s allegiance to the “White Savior” narrative can’t be thwarted by what is conveniently summed up as “hearsay.”
The competition is expectedly fierce, but we can reasonably strike out Vice, Green Book, and The Favourite from the list.
Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman has a good chance because of the huge debt owed to the Black director who was punished for being too Black for comfort in an industry that still can’t handle it.
The only other Black film is the prophetically stunning entry by prolific director Ryan Coogler — the one and only Black Panther.
The very Black movie that delivers the key components that comprise of Black power, Black love, and Black prosperity wrapped in huge bow of Black excellence, is the superhero flick that emerged as the cultural phenomenon for the ages.
The notable nomination of Black Panther in the most illustrious category of award season has been a source of irritation for White people who share actor Sean Penn’s reasoning about how some of the films were questionably selected, despite being “perishable trend-pieces that, win or lose, will be lost to memory.”
Penn is passionately hoping that Bradley Cooper wins best director, and that the actor’s directorial debut, A Star is Born, garners the biggest award of the night.
While I can respect Penn’s hopeful rant, there has to be the strong case for a worthier gem, that deserves to be honored for all that it is and all that it will be for generations to come.
Black Panther should win the best picture slot at the Academy Awards because it’s the quintessential Black movie that White Hollywood can’t stand because of the unapologetic Blackness that doesn’t rely on the standard tropes that White audiences are used to encountering.
It’s the Black movie that gives competitors like Green Book a very bad name, for very good reasons, and that explains the readiness to shower Green Book with loads of love while being reservedly polite to the blockbuster titan that’s too perfectly Black for comfort.
Folks insist that Black Panther is only being recognized because of the astounding backlash that would’ve unfolded if it had been rejected by the Academy, and while that’s true, there’s also the knowledge of how shitty films like Vice, somehow make the list simply because of the historical relevance of its subjects.
But Black Panther isn’t a shitty film.
It’s an engrossingly wondrous gift that was packaged to perfection for Black people, by Black people, and all we ask is for the Academy to honor its global endorsement by awarding the best picture Oscar to the movie that will remembered as the best of the bunch — regardless of what the golden man believes.