During a 12.12 Ankler podcast, Richard Rushfield and I were coming to the same conclusion about the Best Picture race, which was that things seemed to be gradually tilting in Black Panther‘s favor. It may be the most compelling Marvel superhero film ever made, but it’s not the year’s best by any stretch. (I’ve said over and over that it has a great final hour.) And that’s not the main consideration.

What matters is that it seems to have the strongest (i.e., most progressive) Best Picture narrative. Voting for Black Panther will make a lot of Academy voters feel good about themselves, more so than if they vote for Roma or A Star Is Born or Green Book. And that’s the bottom line.

Earlier in the season I was telling myself that Ryan Coogler‘s film would certainly be Best Picture-nominated, if for no other reason than the fact that Black Panther is the only 2018 contender that historians will be readily discussing 50 years from now. As I wrote on 11.11, it’s “obviously an historical groundbreaker, the greatest African-American mythology film ever made, and” — I was mocked for this — “the most socially and emotionally resonant Marvel film ever released.”

But the more I meditate about the Best Picture race, the more it hits me that Black Panther is holding the best cards.