The Marvel hit “Black Panther” is all but assured to get a (wholly undeserving) Best Picture nomination at this year’s Academy Awards now that the “Queen of all Media” Oprah Winfrey has given it her endorsement.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Oprah gave “Black Panther” her blessing while speaking before more than 100 members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Monday night. Her endorsement reportedly came at the behest of Disney chief Bob Iger, whom she has been friends with for three decades.
Winfrey began: “I just wanted to say that when I first saw ‘Black Panther,’ I sent an email to my friend Bobby and said, ‘Hi Bobby! Just saw it. It’s worth everything I’ve heard and more. A phenomenon in every way, on every level. Makes me tear up to think that little black children will grow up with ‘Wakanda forever.’ It’s game-changing, it’s pride-making, it’s dazzling, it’s phenomenal.’ That was my personal review.”
Oprah Winfrey was joined by “Black Panther” screenwriter/director Ryan Coogler, screenwriter Joe Robert Cole, and producer Kevin Feige. “Black Panther” stars Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan and Daniel Kaluuya were also present.
The “Queen of all Media” went on to describe “Black Panther” as being something bigger than a movie.
“I also know that throngs and throngs and so many people came, and came with their families, and then they went back and they got more family members, and then they went back and told their coworkers and their friends, because everybody recognized that something bigger than a movie was happening up on that screen,” she said.
Oprah went on to say that “Black Panther” gave people like herself “life.”
“It just gave us life! It gave us life! But it was so affirming for everyone who saw it because you knew that it was bigger than this moment — it was a cultural happening — and just to be in the theater was to be a part of all of that,” she said.
In closing, Oprah Winfrey thanked Disney chief Bob Iger for allowing “Black Panther” to become a reality.
“None of that could have happened without one man. You know, no matter how many thousands of people there are at Disney, the bottom line is, if he doesn’t say ‘yes,’ it doesn’t happen,” she said. “I have admired and been a friend of Bob Iger’s for a very long time, and am just so respectful of his leadership. And I know that this happened the way it happened because of his leadership, because he had the good sense to hire Ryan Coogler. And then to let him execute his vision. So we are thankful to you, Mr. Iger, for that.”
Disney chief Bob Iger then took the floor to offer a toast in the name of “Black Panther.” His words echoed that of Oprah’s by heralding the film as more than just a film. He also credited the film’s success to Ryan Coogler’s talent.
“The exhilaration that we all felt about this film was due to the fact that we believe it actually had an impact on the world,” said Iger. “And it was because of boldness, daring to dream, defying conventional wisdom and, of course, putting it in the hands of an unbelievably gifted director, Ryan Coogler, who not only told a great story, but he brought an incredible vision to this film.”