The Academy has weighed in: Wakanda forever. Black Panther may not have clinched the best picture Oscar at this year’s ceremony on Sunday, but the watershed Marvel film didn’t walk away empty-handed.
Both Ruth E. Carter and Hannah Beachler, who won for best costume design and best production design (sharing the latter award with Jay Hart), respectively, became the first African-American artists to win an Academy Award in both their categories, let alone to receive nominations in them as well.
Presented by Killmonger himself Michael B. Jordan, first-time nominee Ludwig Goransson also took home the Oscar for best original score.
Industry vet (and longtime Spike Lee collaborator) Carter’s nod for Black Panther was her third ever. “‘I couldn’t have asked for more when I started out on this whole idea of being a costume designer,” she said ahead of the show. “I had no idea it would lead here.”
In her acceptance speech, Carter credited Lee for giving her her start, and he in turn stood up and cheered her on. She also said, “Marvel may have created the first black superhero, but through costume design, we turned him into an African king.”
Carter also recognized her 97-year-old mother watching in Massachusetts, calling her the “original superhero.”
Taking the mic for their win for best production design with Hart (who also received his first win after three nominations), Beachler breathlessly thanked Black Panther director Ryan Coogler, her eyes welling up with tears: “I stand here stronger than I was yesterday. I stand here with agency and self-worth because of Ryan Coogler. You not only made me a better designer, a better storyteller, a better person … I stand here because of this man who offered me a different perspective of life, who offered me a safe space and gave me air, humanity, and brotherhood. Thank you, Ryan. I love you.”
On the morning of her Oscar nomination, Beachler recognized the importance of her becoming the first-ever African-American nominee in her category. “I’m always aware of those that came before me who died for me to be here and free and doing the work that I love. So I have to always pay that forward, I have to always return that to them,” she said.
In his speech for original score, Goransson harked back to working with Coogler since their years at USC together, having scored “your first short film and we’re here 12 years later,” he said. The composer noted that he wanted to share the honor with the African artists and classical musicians in London he worked with on the score for Black Panther.
The landmark film that sparked a movement when it was released in February 2018 scored seven nominations in total at the Oscars 2019 ceremony, including the first nom for a superhero film in the best picture category. Black Panther also nabbed mentions for best original song for “All the Stars” (which was not performed by Kendrick Lamar and SZA during the show), best sound mixing and best sound editing.