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Gold Standard: ‘Black Panther’ on a path to make Oscar history

Gold Standard: ‘Black Panther’ on a path to make Oscar history
"Black Panther" cast members Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright, Chadwick Boseman and Angela Bassett. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

“Black Panther” redefined superhero movies. Can it do the same thing for the Oscars?

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.

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

‘Black Panther’ aiming for best picture nomination

There’s never been anything ordinary about “Black Panther,” the Marvel blockbuster that became the third-highest-grossing movie ever in the U.S. and brought in $1.35 billion worldwide.

“It had the fun and fighting and things blowing up, but it also told truths about father-son relationships, about a fatherless child, about young, independent, strong, brilliant women and their place in the world with them standing in their truths and in their purpose,” cast member Angela Bassett told me for this week’s Envelope cover story.

“And,” Bassett continued, “think of when [Michael B. Jordan’s character] Killmonger says, ‘Bury me in the ocean with my ancestors because freedom is more desirable than bondage.’ If you’re black in America and have read history, you unpack that. It’s more than one sentence. It’s a whole history lesson.”

“Black Panther” is aiming to make more history of its own and become the first superhero movie to earn an Oscar nomination for best picture. Right now, I’d say it’s right on track. Academy voters have been far more willing to consider all kinds of movies for best picture in recent years. (Think “Get Out.”) The worthy “Black Panther” should continue that trend.

Actress Cicely Tyson accepts her Oscar at the 10th Governors Awards.
Actress Cicely Tyson accepts her Oscar at the 10th Governors Awards. (Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times)

Everyone’s a fan at the Governors Awards

Dreamlike encounters are part and parcel of the Governors Awards, an untelevised event that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences established in 2009 as an evening to bestow its honorary Oscars. This year’s recipients included actress Cicely Tyson, producers Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall, composer Lalo Schifrin and publicist Marvin Levy.

I covered the event for The Times on Sunday night, spending part of the evening with Elsie Fisher, the 15-year-old star of the excellent “Eighth Grade.”

Her highlight? Meeting Lin-Manuel Miranda, who was geeking out that she, like him, had been a guest on the comedy advice podcast “My Brother, My Brother and Me.”

“Forget all the EGOTs who may be in this room,” Miranda told Fisher. “There’s, like, six people who have been guest experts on that show. That is the exclusive club.”

Constance Wu and Henry Golding in "Crazy Rich Asians."
Constance Wu and Henry Golding in "Crazy Rich Asians." (Sanja Bucko / Warner Bros. Pictures)

An early look at what might be nominated at the Golden Globes

With separate categories for drama and comedy/musical, the Golden Globes cast a wide net, meaning that cast members from popular films like “Crazy Rich Asians” can party with the filmmakers from serious dramas like “Roma” and “If Beale Street Could Talk.” (Look for “Black Panther” to be a force here too.)

I ran through the main categories, offering predictions for both movies and television.

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Also on the Globes front, I spoke to Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. President Meher Tatna about the group’s financial support for journalism advocacy groups. The HFPA donated $1 million to both the Committee to Protect Journalists and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists this year.

CPJ executive director Joel Simon said the donation came at a “critical” juncture when more journalists worldwide are imprisoned than at any other time in history. The grant enabled the CPJ to, among other things, bolster its emergencies program, which helps evacuate threatened reporters and supports their families when they’re jailed.

“Press freedom is declining around the world, and the United States, which was a key ally in defense of press freedom around the world, is no longer playing that role, so we have a lot of work to do,” Simon said. “And that donation — and the visibility that came with it — was a huge boost.”

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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