LOS ANGELES – Black actors were honored in all acting categories for the first time and romantic showbiz musical “La La Land” topped the Oscars nominations list on Tuesday.
In the past year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences changed its membership and voting rules to increase diversity, after two years of #OscarsSoWhite, a controversy that sparked talks of boycotting the event for lack of diversity. A record six black actors were nominated, breaking ground in diversifying the mostly male, white Hollywood industry.
The Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.’s film, “La La Land,” received a massive 14 Academy Award nominations, tying with “Titanic” and “All About Eve” for the most nominations ever. Damien Chazelle’s whimsical tribute to Hollywood’s Golden Age of musicals was nominated for best picture, best director and for its two stars, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. Its 10 other nominations came in nine categories.
For best actor, Gosling will battle for a golden statuette with Golden Globe winner Casey Affleck (“Manchester by the Sea”), Andrew Garfield (“Hacksaw Ridge”), Viggo Mortensen (“Captain Fantastic”) and Denzel Washington (“Fences”).
In the best actress category, France’s Golden Globe winner Isabelle Huppert was nominated for her performance in the rape-revenge thriller “Elle,” along with Stone, past winner Ruth Negga for “Loving”, Natalie Portman (“Jackie”) and Meryl Streep, who earned her record-breaking 20th nomination for “Florence Foster Jenkins.”
Streep’s nod delighted social media users, who called it a fitting rebuke to President Donald Trump, who described her as “overrated” after she denounced him at the Golden Globes. The 67-year-old actress — who broke her own record as the person with the most acting nominations — reacted with a GIF featuring her dancing for joy.
Past winner Octavia Spencer is also nominated as best supporting actress candidate for “Hidden Figures,” while Mahershala Ali and Naomie Harris are first-time nominees for “Moonlight.” Two-time winner Denzel Washington and multiple nominee Viola Davis are in the running again for their performance in “Fences.”
“I hope I wasn’t nominated because I was black. That has no relevance,” Ali told The Hollywood Reporter. “I hope I was nominated for my work.”
“This is not necessarily a message,” Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs said about the list of nominees.
“It really has to do with the talent. Each year, we recognize talents and films of a particular year. And this year has been just fabulous.”
Last year the academy brought in 683 new members, double the number added the previous year, to change its gender and racial makeup. The group also committed to doubling the number of women and minorities by 2020.
The 89th Academy Awards will be held on February 26 — the climax of Hollywood’s awards season, to be hosted by late night funnyman Jimmy Kimmel.