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‘Black Panther’s’ Sterling K. Brown on Popular Film Oscars Category: ‘I Go Back and Forth’

Black Panther” actor Sterling K. Brown is torn about the Academy Awards’ new popular film category.

At an FYC event for “This Is Us” at Paramount Studios, Brown, who played N’Jobu in the Marvel blockbuster, told Variety his stance on the category — particularly as it relates to “Black Panther,” which is eligible for 2018 nominations — goes “back and forth.”

“When I first heard of the category, the first question I had was, ‘What is the criterion for being nominated in this category?'” Brown said. “If it’s something that can give it some sort of merit and legitimacy, then I think it’s cool. But I think ‘Black Panther’ stands on its own merits regardless of its popularity as being a wonderful piece of art.”

“Ryan Coogler is an artist,” Brown continued. “The man is three for three in his films thus far, and I don’t see him striking out anytime soon. So whether it’s in one category, the other, or both, the movie is worthy of recognition.”

His sentiments echo those of many who’ve weighed in on the new category, saying it may give the Academy an excuse to leave commercially successful films — which have historically not made serious headway with the Academy despite their potential artistic merits — out of the best picture category in favor of more typical Oscars fare — and that, practically, the addition doesn’t make sense. Variety‘s awards editor Kristopher Tapley termed the move “desperate.”

Of “Black Panther” particularly, Tapley wrote: “Disney has taken the task of bringing Ryan Coogler’s critically acclaimed Marvel film into the Oscar fold quite seriously this year. A consultancy team was assembled early and that group has been laying the track ever since. Now here comes the Academy, establishing a corner to which voters can banish this and other films like it with a pat on the head and a ‘thanks for playing.'”

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