With the announcement of this year’s Academy Award nominees Tuesday morning, Black Panther set a new record for comic-book achievement, as the film earned seven nods overall: Best Picture, Best Costume Design, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Original Score, Best Original Song, and Best Production Design. How many ways did Ryan Coogler’s film make Oscar history? Let’s count them down:
As one of eight nominated films in Best Picture, Black Panther is the first superhero film to crack the field for the Academy’s top prize. The Best Picture field expanding a decade ago was widely interpreted as a reaction to The Dark Knight missing out, and nothing since has gotten close, though some hoped last year that Wonder Woman might have been able to break into the category.
In the costume category, Ruth E. Carter scored her third nomination. (She was previously recognized for her work on Amistad and Malcolm X.) By our count, it’s the first-ever costume nomination for a superhero movie, remarkable for a genre that’s all about costumes. (It’s not the first comic-book movie to get a nod, though; that honor went to Dick Tracy.)
Finally, in production design, Hannah Beachler’s Afrofuturist vision of Wakanda made her the first black production designer ever recognized by the Academy. Beachler also did the sets for Moonlight, as well as Beyoncé’s Lemonade.
In all, today’s nominations also suggest the Academy’s push to diversify its voting body is yielding results. As Vulture’s Mark Harris wrote:
Those who led the #OscarsSoWhite charge a couple of years back, while noting that Barry Jenkins’s If Beale Street Could Talk should have been rewarded with a lot more than three nominations, can celebrate Spike Lee’s first-ever Best Directing nomination (that’s insane, and may become a meaningful Oscar narrative in the next month), as well as the robust performance of his film BlacKkKlansman (six nominations, including Best Picture) and Black Panther (seven nominations).
Even if Panther missed in Best Director and the acting categories, today’s news is still big for Marvel, superhero movies, and black creatives of all types. And they didn’t even need a Popular Film category to make it happen.