HomeStandard PeopleDiverse nominee line-up for Oscars 2017

Diverse nominee line-up for Oscars 2017

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (Ampas) has nominated films featuring people of colour in 12 of the 24 categories in this year’s edition of the Oscars.

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Top 2017 Oscar nominees
Top 2017 Oscar nominees

This marks the highest of any previous Oscar Awards that has featured these many nominations for people of colour across the different categories of film.

The categories were in Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Cinematography, Best Documentary Feature, Best Film Editing, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Animated Film and Best Original Song.

This year’s nominations for the 89th edition of the Oscars follows last year’s widely criticised awards for what has been dubbed “whitewashing” where very few roles and films featuring people of colour were nominated despite some notable performances and films.

Whitewashing is a casting practice in the film industry in the United States in which white actors are cast in historically non-white character roles. The practice has gone on to include awards that feature predominately white actors or actresses and next to no people of colour or films featuring them.

A record six actors and actresses have been nominated for awards, the highest in recent memory tying with the 2007 Oscars.

Denzel Washington received an Oscar nomination for his role in Fences while Ruth Negga received one for her role in Loving in the Best Actor and Actress categories respectively. Marhershala Ali received a nomination for Moonlight in the Best Supporting Actor category while Viola Davies (Fences), Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures), and Naomie Harris (Moonlight) got nominated in the Best Supporting Actress category.

Veteran actor Washington’s nomination is his seventh starting with 1987’s Cry Freedom. Washington is the most nominated black actor in the history of Hollywood.

Washington also became the first black actor to be nominated for Best Picture and Best Actor as he also served as one of the film’s producers as well as its director.

From all the black actor nominees, the favourites are Davies and Ali, which marks the latter’s first Oscar nomination.

The Oscar nominations for 2016 films were announced Tuesday in the United States at a time when race relations are once again taking front and centre stage due to a growing divide among the different races in that country brought about by last year’s presidential election.

The film Moonlight, featuring people of colour, had the most nominations with eight, which also ranks the highest for a film with a homosexual theme. These are in the Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Score, Best Cinematography, and Best Film Editing categories.

It is also the first time Moonlight director Barry Jenkins has received an Oscar nomination and is the fourth black director to be nominated for an Oscar.

In a night of firsts, Harris, known most notably for her role as the new Money Penny in the James Bond film franchise, also received her first nomination for her role in Moonlight. Her performance in the role has been widely praised by film critics and cinema goers alike.

It was also a first for Best Cinematography nominee Bradford Young for his work in the Arrival, while Joi McMillon is the first black female to be nominated in the Best Film Editing category for Moonlight.

Out of the 12 nominations, 10 were for black people while two were for the 3D animated film Moana which is based on Polynesian people — who have human genetic ancestry that is a subset of the sea-migrating Austronesian people from various populations in Asia, Oceania and Africa — which is why they were included as people of colour in this article.

Moana was nominated in the Best Animated Film and Best Original Song categories. In the Best Original Song category, the film was nominated for the inspiring song How Far I’ll Go.

Ampas is a professional honorary organisation based in the United States and was formed in May 1927 with the aim of advancing the arts and sciences of motion pictures.

The academy’s corporate management and general policies are overseen by a board of governors, which includes representatives from each of the craft branches.

The roster of the academy consists of motion picture professionals and is a closely guarded secret of notable people from across the film industry.

A great number of its members are based in the United States but membership is also open to qualified filmmakers from around the world.

Ampas has been presenting the Academy Awards or Oscars since 1929 for notable films that featured in the prior year of the awards in a tradition it has kept up till today. The Oscars are the top film awards in the world.

Its current president is Cheryl Boone Isaacs, who is Ampas’s first black female president since 2013 who last year was on record promising to make changes to the people who are invited to join Ampas membership. This would be done by extending membership to people of colour to join the Ampas.

When choosing Oscar nominations and eventual winners, the members of Ampas vote from all the films released during the previous year from the first of January to the last day of December.

Many film critics in the United States have seen this move of nominating so many films featuring people of colour as a welcome one. As such, this year’s Oscar’s are expected to be watched by a higher number of people than previous editions. This year’s edition will be held on February 26 at the Dolby Theatre at the Hollywood & Highland Centre in Hollywood.

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