And the nominees are…a few less white people than last year.
Nominations for the 89th Academy Awards were announced on January 24 via live stream. This was a first for the Academy, as they normally hold their nomination ceremony in a press conference at their headquarters in Beverly Hills. But this year is about breaking traditions, and what better way to do that than by starting with the nomination ceremony.
As expected, the Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone-led musical comedy “La La Land” garnered the most nominations, a staggering 14, which tied the film with “All About Eve” and “Titanic” for the most Oscar nominations ever.
This isn’t the only reason Oscar nominations are making headlines this year. According to a report by Time Labs, this is the first Oscar ceremony since 2006 in which seven non-white actors have been nominated in performance categories.
These seven actors include Denzel Washington and Viola Davis (both for “Fences”), Ruth Negga (“Loving”), Mahershala Ali and Naomie Harris (both for “Moonlight”), Dev Patel (“Lion”) and Octavia Spencer (“Hidden Figures”).
Another huge highlight of the 2017 nomination ceremony was the nomination of four directors of African descent in the Best Documentary Feature category, a first for any Oscars category.
Considering the Academy’s recent controversy surrounding their shutout of minority actors in the past couple years (no actors of color were nominated for acting awards at the 2015 or 2016 ceremonies, prompting Twitter users to respond with the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite), it comes as no surprise that the Academy would respond by honoring more actors of color.
With a film season this diverse and dynamic, it makes sense that more non-white actors are being honored. Films this year — such as “Hidden Figures,” “Moonlight” and “Fences” — have showcased actors of color in strong, compelling performances.
“It makes me feel good to see such a multifaceted group of people get recognized,” Barry Jenkins, director of the eight-time nominated film “Moonlight,” said in an interview with the New York Times. “It’s an affirmation that film has the power to erode barriers and reveal what makes us all human.”
At the 70th Annual Tony Awards in 2016, history was made when four black actors — Leslie Odom, Jr. (“Hamilton”), Cynthia Erivo (“The Color Purple”), Daveed Diggs (“Hamilton”) and Renée Elise Goldsberry (“Hamilton”) — won for their performances in musicals. Fourteen actors of color were nominated in the Tony’s eight performance categories, a huge advancement for diverse representation in mainstream entertainment.
While the Oscars haven’t quite reached that level of showcasing diversity in films, it seems as though they are well on their way to becoming a more varied and open community. Young filmmakers of color may see this year’s Oscars and think “If these people can make great films, so can I.”
The Academy Awards will be presented live on ABC on Sunday, February 26, at 8:30 p.m. EST/7:30 p.m. CST.