Can the Grammys Help Oscar Odds for 'Black Panther'?

Black Panther
Matt Kennedy/©Marvel Studios 2018

Chadwick Boseman and Michael B. Jordan in Black Panther.

In a twist not even M. Night Shyamalan could conceive of, it seemed the 2019 best picture Oscar race was coming down to two controversial biopics about musicians: Bohemian Rhapsody and Green Book.

After both films won the Golden Globes for best motion picture in their respective categories, drama and musical or comedy, it seemed nothing (not critics, nor disturbing allegations) could get in their way.

That was, until Black Panther showed up and did what it does best: defy expectations and change the game. The record-breaking comic book smash won outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, officially giving Bohemian Rhapsody and Green Book a run for their money.

In recent years, the winner of this award has gone on to win best picture, including Spotlight, Birdman, Argo, and The King’s Speech. But could it actually be the Grammys, not just the SAGs, that can propel Black Panther (which has six Oscar nominations) to achieve the holy grail at the Academy Awards?

The chart-topping Black Panther soundtrack—which features Kendrick Lamar, Travis Scott and The Weeknd, among others—is nominated in the prestigious album of the year category. The smash single “All the Stars,” by Lamar and SZA, is also up for record of the year, song of the year, best rap/sung performance, best song written for visual media at the 2019 Grammy Awards.

While “All the Stars” will likely lose to the heavily-favored front-runner, Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s “Shallow” from A Star Is Born, for best song at the 2019 Oscars, the action flick may just have the edge over the music drama when it comes to best picture. And the Grammys could very well be an indicator of that. (Both tracks are facing off in record of the year, song of the year and best song written for visual media.)

No soundtrack that has won album of the year has actually ever gone on to win best picture (sorry, O Brother, Where Art Thou? and Saturday Night Fever) but record of the year and song of the year have enjoyed greater luck. Record and song of the year winner “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion from the Titanic soundtrack would not only sail on to win best original song at the Oscars in 1998, but the movie won best picture as well.

The biggest boost, however, may just come from best song written for visual media. Three songs that have won this category have gone on to see the movies they’re featured in win best picture at the Academy Awards: “Jai Ho” from Slumdog Millionaire, “Into the West” from Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, and, of course, “My Heart Will Go On” from Titanic.

No, major Grammy wins aren’t a surefire indicator that a movie’s songs or soundtrack will translate to a coveted best picture trophy (case in point: Beauty and the Beast). But then again, not since Titanic has a movie had such a massive impact on moviegoers, critics, the box office, the Billboard charts and the cultural zeitgeist. That movie, of course, being Black Panther.

The 61st Grammy Awards will take place on Feb. 10, and the 91st Academy Awards will occur just two weeks later, on Feb. 24. Oscars voting closes Feb. 19.


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