There’s always a silver lining, right? After this whirlwind of the past few days with the Inauguration of an unqualified reality star to lead our country, millions of women marching around the world for equal rights, white people making up a new name for lying (“alternative facts”), the Academy Award nominations brightened things up a bit.
Announced last Tuesday, we were so pleased to see many of our Broadway Black favorites make the list this year, some even making history.
Moonlight managed to rack up a total of eight nominations including: Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay (Tarell Alvin McCraney & Barry Jenkins), Best Director (Barry Jenkins), Best Supporting Actor (Mahershala Ali), Best Supporting Actress (Naomie Harris), Best Cinematography, Best Original Score, and Best Film Editing.
The acclaimed film adaptation of Fences garnered a Best Picture nomination along with Best Actor in a Leading Role (Denzel Washington), Best Supporting Actress (Viola Davis), Best Adapted Screenplay (August Wilson).
Hidden Figures scored three nominations for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actress (Octavia Spencer). Someone must have forgotten to include Taraji P. Henson’s name on the ballots.
Ruth Negga received a nomination for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her nuanced and remarkable performance in Loving.
Another breakthrough for African-American filmmakers was the documentary category with four of the five nominations going to directors of African descent (13th, I Am Not Your Negro, Life, Animated & OJ Made In America).
While Hollywood will quickly pat themselves on the back and try to say this isn’t a repeat of #OscarsSoWhite, the work is far from over. So, you nominated seven actors of color (including Lion’s Dev Patel) out of a possible 20 nominees? Good for you, Hollywood. You go, Glenn Coco.
This so-called “drought,” as Deadline wrote, is far from over. There shouldn’t be any reason Halle Berry is still the last — and only — Black actress to have won in the lead actress category. Viola Davis shouldn’t have to campaign for Best Supporting Actress to increase her odds of winning when Best Actress should definitely be hers — she has a Tony for Best Leading Actress for the same role.
Image: David Lee/Paramount Pictures/REX/Shutterstock
Barry Jenkins is only the fourth Black director to get the esteemed Best Director nomination in the category’s history and, for the first time ever, three films with majority Black casts have been nominated for Best Picture.
This also marks the first time three Black writers received nominations for Adapted Screenplay, including the late August Wilson, in the same year. His posthumous nomination is enough to bring tears to my eyes.
It’s 2017. And while Hollywood wants to say “the drought is over” when we’re just breaking the mold in 2017, we still have such a long way to go.
After the backlash of only 20 white actors in performance categories two years in a row, the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences took action to help increase the diversity of its governing board and voting members.
Watch The Oscars LIVE! to see Viola Davis earn her O, snatch a wig or two, and make her way to EGOT status, Sunday, February 26, 7 PM EST/4 PM PST, only on ABC.