Welcome one and all to Flixist’s new end of the year awards program, the Golden Cages! With Hollywood becoming increasingly out of touch with what the people like, we at Flixist have taken it upon ourselves to deliver the fair, balanced, dignity-filled awards you deserve. Why are we delivering our 2018 awards so late in the year? Because the Oscars do it and we’re better than them. The winners of the Golden Cages will be spread out over the next two weeks, right before the hostless Academy Awards.
Look, the other Michael Jordan (#not23mj) isn’t even nominated for an Oscar for his turn as wannabe Wakandan Erik Killmonger in Black Panther, but we’re going to talk about him here anyway because we like to keep it real. Black Panther was the top grossing film of 2018 and the number three all-time and no one’s even throwing any Oscar bones over this way, are you kidding me? Sure, it got a Best Picture nod, a first for a superhero film, and a few nobody cares like costume design, sound mixing, production design, original song, original score, sound editing–OK, so it got a lot of nods, but apparently the powers that be think its cast can’t act for shit.
Wrong. And I’m going to give special props to Mr. Michael B. Jordan here as one only has to examine his acting career within the superhero genre to realize just how far he’s come. Judging his performance in 2015’s Fantastic Four (with complete impartiality) as rubbish, it’s easy to measure his growth as a master thespian and to acknowledge just how good his acting in Black Panther is. For if one is dirt, by comparison the other must be gold. Shiny, Oscar, gold. Some might say that Jordan’s turn as Killmonger is just a more thorough example of all of his roles (see Fahrenheit 451, Creed II, Creed, and Chronicle), his incomparable self-assurance, or his heir-to-the-Stringer-Bell-empire swag.
In all seriousness, I’ll say that Jordan embodies a comic book villain like few others. Usually the performance, through no fault of the actor’s, suffers from overacting such that the characters are too eccentric and too over the top to believe. Jordan’s incarnation of Killmonger never misses a beat. Sure, the bravado is twelve sorts of morning rooster, but it fits the character he creates. He exudes vengeance, previously a thing that one didn’t exude. He delivers lines with such loathing and hate that I sort of feel bad for his fellow cast members. Do you think he made any of them cry while shooting? I wouldn’t be surprised. As such, he should make some real world contemporaries cry again by beating their less-swole ass and taking their golden man toy/statue.
Recognizing an actor’s ability to take a character role, i.e. “the villain,” usually relegated to the shadows, far from the limelight of serious discussions of acting greatness, and to bring it forth in a blaze of illuminating brilliance is something. Now combine that by doing it in not only a genre-redefining film, but an industry-wide redefining film, and we’re talking serious skills.