February 5, 2023

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Ryan Coogler champions Angela Bassett as Oscar frontrunner

2 min read

Oscar buzz for Angela Bassett’s performance in “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” carried over to Sundance, where her “Black Panther” director Ryan Coogler and “Master of None” co-star Lena Waithe both championed her for gold. Both Coogler and Waithe spoke of diversity Angelique Jackson backstage at the A Taste of Sundance event on the festival’s opening night. Coogler was honored at the opening ceremony diversity Visionary Award, which recognizes a notable Sundance alumnus. Coogler is celebrating the 10th anniversary of his Sundance winner “Fruitvale Station” this year

Bassett emerged as a front-runner for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar after earning nominations at the Golden Globe Awards and Critics’ Choice Awards, and the Screen Actors Guild Awards and BAFTA Film Awards.

“He’s so incredible that sometimes you forget. You know that?” Coogler said in response to Bassett’s forward status. “His work ethic is insane. I come to play sports so you notice working with him, it’s like you have an extra coach on the field. I find on days when he’s working I can get more done. It’s just true.”

Coogler added, “He’ll do this thing in the first movie where he doesn’t really leave the set. He lives close to crazy, which is nuts for an actor like him. It sets such an amazing example. Nobody wants to go back to the trailer when Angela is sitting next to the camera.”

Waithe and Bassett played mother and daughter in an acclaimed episode of Netflix’s “Master of None.” Waithe, who won an Emmy for writing the episode, said she was “honored” to sit next to Bassett during the making of the show and added that Bassett has become a “second mom” in real life.

“I’m very grateful for that,” Waithe said. “Seeing her in ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ … it warms my heart to see her get her flowers that everyone knows she deserves. Our fingers are all crossed. We’re texting, ‘Mama Angela, you Gotta get your stuff! Gotta get your stuff.” He said, ‘I am coming for my things.’ I hope he gets a gold one soon.

If Bassett takes home the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, she will become the first actor to win an Academy Award playing a character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” hits Disney+ on February 1, shortly after the January 24, 2023 Oscar nominations are released.

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