8 Ways Black Filmmakers Made Oscar Nomination History This Year

Photo: 20th Century Fox/REX/Shutterstock.
The 2017 Oscar nominations are putting last year's to shame. The level of diversity across the categories this year is virtually unprecedented, and all the more gratifying given the fact that the Academy failed to nominate a single Black actor in 2015 and 2016. Whether or not that's enough to overcome #OscarsSoWhite — let alone move the needle in Hollywood — is up for debate. And the fact that we still have to call out and celebrate these wins is a shame in itself.

But the reality that the Academy Awards have made progress in officially recognizing Black filmmakers is clear and promising. Here are a few of the ways the 2017 Oscar nominees made history.

1. Moonlight director Barry Jenkins, 37, is the first African-American filmmaker to be nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay.

2. Fences star Viola Davis, 51, is the first Black actress to be nominated for an Oscar three times (Doubt in 2009, The Help in 2012) with her Best Supporting Actress nod.

3. Arrival cinematographer Bradford Young, 39, is the first African-American to be nominated for the Best Cinematography award. (Young is the second Black man; British cinematographer Remi Adefarasin was nominated for Elizabeth in 1998.)

4. A Black actor is nominated in all four acting categories for the first time in history: Denzel Washington, Best Actor, Fences; Ruth Negga, Best Actress, Loving; Mahershala Ali, Best Supporting Actor, Moonlight; Octavia Spencer, Best Supporting Actress, Hidden Figures; Viola Davis, Best Supporting Actress, Fences; Naomie Harris, Best Supporting Actress, Moonlight.

5. This is the first time that six African-American actors and actresses have been nominated in total. (The previous record was five in 2005 and 2007.)

6. Moonlight editor Joi McMillon is the first Black woman to be nominated for film editing.

7. This is the first time that three Black people have been nominated within a single category (Best Supporting Actress, in this case): Viola Davis in Fences, Naomie Harris in Moonlight, and Octavia Spencer in Hidden Figures.


8. 13TH director Ava DuVernay is the first African American woman director to be nominated for Best Documentary Feature.

Advertisement