For the last two years, the Academy failed to nominate any nonwhite actors for Oscars. Critics pointed to the Academy—a body of predominantly white, male voters—as emblematic of the lack of diversity in Hollywood, both on and off screen. In an attempt to answer these critiques, the Academy diversified its voting pool last year. The immediate result is an Oscar slate that highlights films starring nonwhite actors and made by nonwhite filmmakers, including Moonlight, Fences, Lion and The 13th.
Of course, Hollywood still has a long way to go. While more black actors were nominated this year, representation of Asian, Latino and other nonwhite actors, directors and writers remains abysmal. Very few women were nominated in non-acting categories. And, of course, there’s the problem of how Hollywood perceives these films—exemplified by the “Hidden Fences” snafu at the Golden Globes where both Jenna Bush and Michael Keaton elided the names of two nominated films starring black actors.
Still, filmmakers like Barry Jenkins and Ava DuVernay have the opportunity to make history this year. Here is how the numbers shake out at this year’s Oscars.
6 black actors were nominated, a record
Mahershala Ali (Moonlight), Naomie Harris (Moonlight), Viola Davis (Fences), Denzel Washington (Fences), Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures) and Ruth Negga (Loving) all snagged nominations.
7 nonwhite actors were nominated, tying 2007’s record
Mahershala Ali (Moonlight), Naomie Harris (Moonlight), Viola Davis (Fences), Denzel Washington (Fences), Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures), Ruth Negga (Loving) and Dev Patel (Lion) helped make this year’s Oscars among the most diverse ever. In 2007, seven nonwhite actors were also nominated.
9 films and documentaries with nonwhite subjects were nominated
Feature films Moonlight, Fences, Hidden Figures, Loving, Lion, Moana and documentaries The 13th, I Am Not Your Negro and OJ: Made in America expanded the diversity of stories told onscreen.
First year in which black actors were nominated in every acting category
Denzel Washington (Fences, Actor), Mahershala Ali (Moonlight, Supporting Actor), Ruth Negga (Loving, Actress), Viola Davis (Fences, Supporting Actress), Naomie Harris (Moonlight, Supporting Actress) and Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures, Supporting Actress) were all recognized.
3 nominations for Viola Davis
Viola Davis set a new record for number of acting nominations for a black, female actor.
7 nominations for Denzel Washington
Denzel Washington broke his own record for most Oscar nods for a black, male actor .
First year with three black nominees in one acting category
This is the first year that a single acting category (Best Supporting Actress) features three black nominees: Viola Davis (Fences), Naomie Harris (Moonlight) and Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures).
First black woman to be nominated for editing
Joi McMillon became the first black woman to be nominated in the editing category for her work on Moonlight.
3 non-white writers nominated for best screenplay in the same year for the first time
For the first time ever, three black writers, Barry Jenkins (Moonlight), Tarell Alvin McCraney (Moonlight) and August Wilson (Fences), all got nods in the same year.
13 years since an Indian actor was last nominated
Dev Patel became the first Indian actor to be nominated in 13 years for his work in Lion. (Ben Kingsley was nominated in 2004.)
20 nominations for Meryl Streep
“Overrated” actress Meryl Streep broke her own record for most nominated actor—male or female—in the history of the Oscars with her Best Actress nod for Florence Foster Jenkins. Jack Nicholson and Katharine Hepburn follow with 12 nominations each.
2 black artists have been nominated for cinematography in Oscar history
Bradford Young became only the second black artist ever to be nominated for Best Cinematography for his work on Arrival.
First black artist to be nominated for Best Director, Best Picture and Best Screenplay
Moonlight writer and director Barry Jenkins made history Tuesday as the first black man to ever hit the nomination trifecta.
0 black artists have ever won best director
Barry Jenkins is the fourth black director to be nominated in the category of Best Director and could become the first to win.
0 documentaries by black women have ever won
No film created by a black woman has ever won in the Best Documentary category. Ava DuVernay has a chance to break that record with The 13th.
1 woman has won for Best Original or Adapted Screenplay in the past 10 years
There were no women nominated in either screenplay category this year. In the past 10 years, Diablo Cody, who wrote 2007’s Juno, has been the only woman to win an Oscar for Best Screenplay.
1 to 88 is the ratio of male to female winners in the best director category
Yet again, no woman was nominated in the Best Director category this year. Only four women have ever been nominated, and only one, Kathryn Bigelow, has won. She was the last woman to be nominated, seven years ago.
638 new members were added to the Academy last year
New Academy rules added a greater diversity of voters in terms of ethnicity, gender and age in an effort to combat #OscarsSoWhite.
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