The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences clearly heard the loud protests of #OscarsSoWhite.
After two years in a row in which actors of color were overlooked by the Oscar nominations, the 2017 nominees showcase a more multicultural range of talent, both in front of and behind the camera.
While “La La Land” may have tied a record for the most nominations period (at 14, the same as “Titanic” and “All About Eve”), the Oscars also nominated a record six black actors this year. Denzel Washington and Ruth Negga received nods for lead acting in “Fences” and “Loving,” respectively, while Mahershala Ali and Naomie Harris of “Moonlight,” Viola Davis of “Fences,” and Octavia Spencer of “Hidden Figures” all took supporting nods. Seven of the 20 acting nominees are people of color.
The best-picture category honored multiple films that wrestled, each in their own way, with African-American identity and history: “Fences,” based on the August Wilson play; “Hidden Figures,” the box-office hit about black women at NASA; and the critical darling “Moonlight,” which follows a black man from the projects of Miami through three parts of his life.
The documentary-feature category also highlighted work that engages with the history of racial division in the US, with “I Am Not Your Negro,” based on an unfinished James Baldwin book; “13th,” the Netflix movie directed by Ava DuVernay about race and the criminal-justice system; and “OJ: Made in America,” Ezra Edelman’s sprawling account of O.J. Simpson’s life.
Other firsts for minorities came in behind-the-scenes categories, as Joi McMillon, nominated alongside Nat Sanders for editing in “Moonlight,” became the first black woman to be nominated in the editing category. The cinematographer behind “Arrival,” Bradford Young, is the first African-American to be nominated in the cinematography category.