Ryan Coogler Turned Down Academy Invite: ‘I Don’t Buy Into’ Oscar Season Competition

Ryan Coogler has three feature films under his belt — “Fruitvale Station,” “Creed,” and “Black Panther” — and each has generated an abundance of Oscar buzz and/or Oscar nominations. “Creed” landed Sylvester Stallone in the Best Supporting Actor race, while “Black Panther” landed six nominations, including Best Picture, and three wins for Best Production Design, Best Original Score, and Best Costume Design. Despite all the love from the Academy, Coogler has no interest in becoming a member. The filmmaker told The Hollywood Reporter he turned down an offer to join AMPAS and remains a nonmember to this day.

“I don’t buy into this versus that, or ‘this movie wasn’t good enough to make this list,’” Coogler said. “I love movies. For me, that’s good enough. If I’m going to be a part of organizations, they’re going to be labor unions, where we’re figuring out how to take care of each other’s families and health insurance. But I know that these things bring exposure.”

Coogler turned down the invite to join the Academy in 2016, the year after the critical and box office success of “Creed.” The filmmaker was invited to join alongside a class that included his frequent collaborator Michael B. Jordan.

While Coogler’s films have landed multiple Oscar nominations, it took until 2021 for the director himself to land his first Academy Award nomination. Coogler is nominated in the Best Picture field this year as a producer on “Judas and the Black Messiah.” The filmmaker is nominated alongside fellow producers Charles King and Shaka King, the latter of whom directed “Judas.” The Best Picture nomination marks the first time in Oscars’ history that an all-Black producing team is competing for the top prize.

Speaking to THR, King compared making history at the Oscars to watching his neighborhood in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn become gentrified. “You could now get fresh produce walking distance from the crib, and I remember being happy about that,” he said. “But a part of me felt angry because that meant that for all those decades, when it was just Black people living there, our bodies weren’t worth sustaining with good food. I think about.”

King continued, “Why did it take 93 years for there to be three Black producers nominated for an Academy Award? Is it because there weren’t three Black people willing to produce movies? Probably not. Was it because we didn’t have the access to the kind of capital to make a big, sweeping studio feature? Maybe a little bit. Was it because we made that stuff and they didn’t recognize it? Maybe a little bit. But none of it feels good. So it’s bittersweet.”

“Judas and the Black Messiah” is nominated for a total of five Oscars, including Best Supporting Actor bids for Lakeith Stanfield and frontrunner Daniel Kaluuya. Next up for Coogler is Marvel sequel “Black Panther 2.”

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