Films focused on Black characters figured high in the nominations for the 89th Annual Academy awards Tuesday morning, reversing the protests from last year that resulted in the #OscarsSoWhite backlash.
“Moonlight,” the coming of age story of a young Black man written and directed by Barry Jenkins; “Hidden Figures,” based on the story of three Black women who worked for NASA during the space race; and “Fences,” a film adaptation of August Wilson’s Tony award- and Pulitzer Prize-winning play directed by and starring Denzel Washington were each nominated for Best Picture at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announcement ceremony.
In addition, Washington was nominated for Best Actor and Jenkins for Best Director. Ruth Negga earned a nomination for Best Actress for her portrayal of Mildred Loving in the real life interracial romance story “Loving.” Meanwhile, Naomie Harris was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her role in “Moonlight.” She will compete for the award with Viola Davis for “Fences,” and Octavia Spencer for “Hidden Figures.” Also, “Mahershala Ali” was given a Best Supporting Actor nod for his role in “Moonlight.”
Having built lots of Oscar buzz since prior to the time they were released widely, “Fences,” “Hidden Figures,” and “Moonlight” each earned nominations for Best Adapted Screenplay.
Documentaries on topic dealing with race were also recognized by the the Academy. “I Am Not Your Negro,” Raoul Peck’s adaptation of James Baldwin’s unfinished novel Remember This House; “13th,” Ava DuVernay’s study of racial inequality in America; and “O.J.: Made in America,” Ezra Edelman’s five-part ESPN miniseries about the rise and fall of one of America’s most revered and controversial sports figures, each were nominated for Best Documentary Feature.
A year ago, the #OscarSoWhite meme spread across the Internet in response to only White actors and actresses being nominated in the top categrories for the second year in a row. It opened up a large discussion among actors, critics and the media on a lack of diversity in front of and behind the camera in the film industry.
However, as in other years, a variety of films will compete heavily for the trophies. The musical “La La Land,” starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone tied the Oscar record with 14 nominations including Best Picture. Meanwhile, “Arrival,” ”Hacksaw Ridge,” ”Hell or High Water,” ”Lion,” and ”Manchester by the Sea” each round out the Best Picture nominations.