Oscar noms are here! They’re a mix of refreshing (diversity!) and a little predictable (La La Land). Most notable is the former; this set of nominees is being reported as the more diverse spread in a decade. It’s an important and necessary departure from the last two years where the white-washed nominee lists were so jarring they sparked a national debate around diversity in Hollywood.
“[V]oters chose the largest number of black candidates ever. Mahershala Ali and Naomie Harris each received a nod for their supporting work in Moonlight,” reported the Times. “Viola Davis (Fences) and Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures) were also nominated for supporting actress. Joining [Ruth] Negga [(Loving)] in the lead categories was Denzel Washington of Fences.”
— Matthew A. Cherry (@MatthewACherry) January 24, 2017
Some other stats! With his Best Support Actor nom for Lion, Dev Patel became the third Indian actor to be nominated for an Oscar (ever). Viola Davis became the first black actress to earn three Oscar nominations with her Fences nom. (I’m still not over her Golden Globes speech.) Clearly we have a long way to go before Hollywood reflects the breadth and depth of diversity in this country.
While we’re talking about breaking records, La La Land received 14 Oscar nominations this year. That ties the film with Titanic and All About Eve for most noms ever. The movie stars two beautiful, young white people (played by two adorable famous white actors) who live in L.A. while they struggle — and then succeed at — carving out creative careers in Hollywood. I found the movie pleasant enough, if a little grating per the pseudo-progressive ending — but 14 nominations feels like a bit much. It’s hard not to draw a connection between the La La Land obsession on the part of the Academy — which, according to the LA Times last year, is 91% white industry people — with the patting-of-one’s-own-back often associated with Hollywood awards shows.
(I may be in the minority on this one. It’s not just the industry that loves La La Land; it was the highest-grossing limited release of 2016 and has gone on to kill it in 2017.)