To welcome the new class of nominees, several Oscar-winning and nominated Academy members including Jennifer Hudson, Brie Larson, Emmanuel Lubezki, Jason Reitman and Ken Watanabe joined Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs to reveal the 89th Oscars Nominations, this morning, Tuesday, January 24. In a departure from tradition of a live audience at the Academy, this year’s nominations were announced via a global live stream on Oscar.com, Oscars.org, the Academy’s digital platforms, a satellite feed, and local broadcasters, including “Good Morning America.”
Of note, given this blog’s specific interests…
— A highlight is that in the Best Documentary Feature category, 4 of the 5 nominees are filmmakers of African descent – a first in history in any category: “I am Not Your Negro” (Raoul Peck), “Life Animated” (Roger Ross Williams), “O.J.: Made in America” (Ezra Edelman), and “13th” (Ava DuVernay).
— Another highlight is that for Best Supporting Actress, 3 of the 5 are black actresses, including: “Viola Davis (“Fences”), Naomie Harris (“Moonlight”) and Octavia Spencer (“Hidden Figures”). The last time more than 1 black actress was nominated in this category was in 2008 when, coincidentally, Viola Davis was also nominated (for “Doubt”) and Octavia Spencer’s “Hidden Figures” co-star Taraji P. Henson was nominated for “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.” Neither Davis nor Henson won that year however.
— For Best Picture, “Hidden Figures,” “Fences,” and “Moonlight” are all nominated. This is the first time that 3 black films have been nominated in this category ever! And only once has a black film won Best Picture: Steve McQueen’s “12 Years a Slave” in 2013. I should also note that this marks the first Oscar nomination (“Fences”) for the late August Wilson who died 12 years ago. He’s already won a Tony Award, and has been nominated for an Emmy.
— Also of note, cinematographer Bradford Young picked up his first (about time!) Oscar nomination for his work on “Arrival.” This makes him only the 2nd DP of African descent to be nominated for an Oscar. Before him, Remi Adefarasin was nominated in 1998 for “Elizabeth.” He didn’t win though. So this is one key category still without a winner of African descent. Maybe that’ll change this year.
— Joi McMillon is the first black woman to be nominated in the Editing category. She is also only the second editor of African descent to be nominated. The first was way back in 1969, when Hugh A. Robertson picked up a nomination for “Midnight Cowboy.” He didn’t win however.
— And another highlight is, no surprise, the much-loved “Moonlight,” which is nominated in 8 different categories, including all big ones: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor (Mahershala Ali) and Best Supporting Actress (Naomie Harris). I should note that Barry Jenkins becomes only the 4th black director to be nominated for Best Director in Oscar history. Before him, John Singleton in 1991 for “Boyz n the Hood”; in 2009, Lee Daniels for “Precious”; and in 2013, Steve McQueen for “12 Years a Slave.” None of them won. Might Barry be the first black director to win the Best Director Oscar?
— The rest of the nominees were mostly as predicted: in the Best Actor category, Denzel Washington is nominated for “Fences;” for Best Actress, Ruth Negga is nominated for “Loving” (she becomes only the 11th actress of African descent to be nominated in this category); and “Tanna” is nominated in the Best Foreign Language Film category.
— A milestone worth mentioning: Denzel Washington now has the most nominations for an African American Actor: Best Actor (5 nominations) and Best Supporting Actor (2 nominations).
There’s likely some other history-making news to be found here, so this post might be updated (if it is, a note of that will be made). For now, below are all the *major* categories in which black talent is nominated: