Oscar Watch: Black Panther

Black Panther, directed by Ryan Coogler, exceeded my expectations in all ways possible. I went in expecting just another superhero movie, but it had a great message underneath the action sequences. The cinematography was astounding and the acting was incredible. All in all I would say this is a very well rounded movie, it has to be in order to be nominated for an Oscar!

By Nicole Mattox

Photo from Forbes

Photo from Forbes

The main thought-provoking issue Black Panther raises is isolation vs. community. The most obvious conflict comes from the differing ideas on whether or not Wakanda should help other countries around the world or not. They talk about how rough life is for African Americans, it should be obvious that helping them is the right thing to do, yet it takes a lot for Wakandans to actually see that. I love that social commentary on how people in the real world see issues like this. Many people think that since it doesn’t affect them, it is not their problem. I believe Klaw is the embodiment of white supremacy in this film. His greed drives him throughout the film. He is known for being a thief and wanting to steal all of the vibranium for himself, he calls the Wakandans “savages” even though their civilization is far above his own. Klaw doesn’t think they deserve the vibranium and only he is good enough to use it. In contrast to Klaw’s character they have the CIA agent Ross. I took him as representing the ind of everyday white man. He says it is his responsibility to stop Klaw, yet is oblivious to what is really going on. I also think he doubles as the sort of nationalist spin every Hollywood movie seems to have. An American war hero comes in and flies a plane to help the main protagonist. Most Americans like to feel pride in their country when watching a movie and Agent Ross allows them to feel that while also pointing out the racial issues we do have at the same time.

Black Panther is praised for many reasons besides their social commentary. The cinematography is widely thought of as the best of the Marvel movies. What stuck out to me was the ability to capture the action sequences without seeming too shaky. Rachel Morrison was the director of photography for this film and pulled off a smooth transition within every scene flawlessly. The scene I am particularly thinking about is the one where they are in the Korean casino looking for Klaw, and a fight breaks out. The action flows effortlessly you almost forget you’re watching it on camera. She uses long tracking shots to capture what is happening all throughout the room and the choreography of the fights works perfectly for the camera. Clayton Barber was the stunt coordinator and portrayed these fight scenes beautifully.

One of the most obvious areas that Black Panther exceeded in was costume and makeup. These outfits completed the process of bringing you into the world of the movie. Ruth E. Carter was the costume designer for the movie. The women warriors wore outfits that worked for combat. Most action movies have the women wearing outfits that are incredibly unrealistic for someone going into battle, they are typically in very little clothes exposing their torso and legs. Ruth Carter went a different route with it and it worked.

All in all I think this movie was very well made. I only have two real problems with it. I feel like it takes a while to hit its stride. The beginning of the movie feels very familiar. It fits right into the action category and feels the same as every other superhero movie. Once T’challa gets to Wakanda I think things start to get interesting and I love it from there on out. The only other issue I have is the length of the final fight sequence. It is just a little too long where I found myself wondering when they were going to find a resolution. Neither of these things bother me enough to lower my opinion of the movie, but I did still find myself critiquing them.