Why Africans Will Be Following The 2017 Oscar Awards Closely

This year’s Oscar Awards nominations list was received with such awesome delight not only by people of African decent in America, even round the globe but also by the film professional bodies.

According to Variety’s Jenelle Riley, The nominations earned praise from the African American Film Critics Association; AAFCA President Gil Robertson IV stated: “The African American Film Critics Association is totally thrilled with the record-breaking number of nominations earned this year by actors and other creative artists of color. AAFCA applauds the Academy’s efforts and we hope that their progress continues to reflect America’s rich diversity.”

This rather rational move came after last year’s nominations set off #OscarsSoWhite trend on social media as well as grumblings on many traditional media platforms. As the nominations list got released in January this year, all eyes were on the Academy and as it turned out, list was in plain contrast to 2016’s; this year proved to be a much stronger year for diversity, both in front of the camera and behind it.

While no actors of color were nominated the last two years, this year saw every acting category recognizing a person of color. A record-tying (with 2007) seven minority actors were recognized, including a record six black actors.

In best actor, Denzel Washington landed his seventh nomination for “Fences,” extending his record as the most nominated black actor. His co-star Viola Davis was nominated in supporting actress, which also saw Davis’ “The Help” co-star Octavia Spencer nominated for “Hidden Figures” and Naomie Harris for “Moonlight.” With three nods, Davis is now the most nominated black actress.

In the lead actress category, Ruth Negga was nominated for her work in “Loving.” And in supporting actor, Mahershala Ali landed a nom for “Moonlight.”

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But it didn’t just stop with the acting; many prominent categories also recognized people of color. With Manchester by the Sea nominated for best picture, Kimberly Steward is only the second black female to be nominated for producing — the first was none other than Oprah Winfrey for “Selma.”

As writer-director of “Moonlight,” Barry Jenkins found himself the fourth black best director nominee, after John Singleton, Lee Daniels, and Steve McQueen. His writing nomination, shared with playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney, made them the seventh and eighth black men nominated for screenplay.

And Jenkins is only the second black writer-director to find himself nominated for both categories, after Singleton. Also notable in the writing category is the late August Wilson, the prominent black playwright whose adaptation of “Fences” made the cut.

The documentary feature category was made up almost entirely of people of color – Ava DuVernay (“13th”), Raoul Peck (“I Am Not Your Negro”), Ezra Edelman (“O.J.: Made in America”), and Roger Ross Williams (“Life, Animated”). Previously, there have only been three black directors nominated in the category, and DuVernay marks the first black woman.

Other notable nominations include: Bradford Young for his cinematography of “Arrival,” only the second black nominee ever after Remi Adefarasin for “Elizabeth.” And with her editing nomination for “Moonlight,” Joi McMillon became the first black female nominee in the category and second black nominee after Hugh A. Robertson for “Midnight Cowboy.”

In the same category is “La La Land” editor Tom Cross, who is half-Asian; two years ago, Cross won in the category for “Whiplash.”  And Lin-Manuel Miranda, the American-born artist who is primarily of Puerto Rican descent, could find himself EGOT-ing this year with his best song nomination for “Moana.” The Academy Awards will air Feb. 26 on ABC.

Courtesy: Jenelle Riley of Variety

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