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Could Marvel's 'Black Panther' be a 2019 Oscar contender?

Could Marvel's 'Black Panther' be a 2019 Oscar contender?
"Black Panther" cast member Lupita Nyong'o at the film's premiere. (Rich Polk / Getty Images)

Marvel Studios movies have racked up 19 Oscar nominations over the years, including two nods this year — “Logan’s” adapted screenplay and “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’s” visual effects.

Could “Black Panther” be the Marvel movie to finally win the studio an Oscar?

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Welcome to the Gold Standard, the newsletter from the Los Angeles Times that helps guide you through the ins and outs of the awards season leading up to the Oscars.

I'm Glenn Whipp, The Times' awards columnist and your newsletter host.

‘Black Panther’ anticipation is sky-high

Ryan Coogler’s “Black Panther,” the first stand-alone film of the modern Marvel era to be led by a black superhero, premiered this week to ecstatic social media gushing — not an unusual response for this kind of film.

Only, this time, the outpouring of love is warranted. Coogler and his team — including the newly minted, Oscar-nominated cinematographer Rachel Morrison — have created a visually stunning movie, full of action and ideas (the responsibility of wealthy nations to the rest of the world, for one) and boasting countless, instantly iconic performances from the likes of Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Letitia Wright, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira and Angela Bassett.

Early ticket sales for “Black Panther” have broken records in advance of its Feb. 16 opening. And a year from now, it’s easy to see the movie’s visual effects teams and Oscar-nominated costume designer Ruth E. Carter earning favor with the academy. And look for plenty of people to advocate for best picture, too, as was the case with “Wonder Woman.”

Times film writer Jen Yamato offered an early preview of the movie, which she’ll be following soon with an interview with Boseman, who plays the title character. You can also look to The Times for stories on Coogler and Wright, a breakout star for her turn as Black Panther’s genius little sister.

Opening night at the 33rd Santa Barbara International Film Festival at Arlington Theatre.
Opening night at the 33rd Santa Barbara International Film Festival at Arlington Theatre. (Getty Images for SBIFF)

Santa Barbara International Film Festival opens with tribute

The 33rd Santa Barbara International Film Festival opened Wednesday night, and festival executive director Roger Durling was quick to address the area’s recent ravages from the deadly wildfires and mudslides.

“The past few months have been some of the hardest for everyone in Santa Barbara,” Durling said. “The devastation and the emotional toll it has taken on all of us is not quantifiable. Film has the power to unify us, to make us feel less fragmented as human beings. The events of the past weeks have fragmented this community — we’ve felt alone — but tonight and for the next 10 days we’re alone no more.”

Times staff writer Hugo Martin recently wrote about the challenges the region faces in luring tourists back to an area that relies on vacation spending.

The film festival continues through Feb. 10, offering a deep schedule of movies along with several evenings celebrating this year’s Oscar nominees — Saoirse Ronan, Gary Oldman and Willem Dafoe among them. I’ll be leading a panel tomorrow morning featuring the producers of this year’s Oscar-nominated films, followed in the afternoon with Indiewire’s Anne Thompson talking to screenwriters.

Chiwetel Ejiofor in the movie "Come Sunday."
Chiwetel Ejiofor in the movie "Come Sunday." (Tina Rowden)

Closing the Sundance diary

Times film critic Justin Chang kept an ongoing diary through the 10-day Sundance Film Festival. I was particularly excited to hear how much he liked “Come Sunday,” a drama starring Chiwetel Ejiofor playing the controversial Pentecostal preacher Carlton Pearson. It was one of the movies on my Sundance preview and, judging from the reviews, it looks like a couple of these titles might be in the awards season mix next year.

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For more coverage of all these things, check out the new Times’ entertainment podcast, The Reel. New episodes drop weekly.

Feedback?

I'd love to hear from you. Email me at glenn.whipp@latimes.com.

Can't get enough about awards season? Follow me at @glennwhipp on Twitter.

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