Tonight, the best films of 2016 will be honored as the 89th Academy Awards are presented in Los Angeles, California. Luckily, this year’s ceremony will not be a repeat of 2016’s #OscarsSoWhite, but there is still a lot of work to be done in diversifying the makeup of Oscar nominations. Nevertheless, it’s still important to applaud the nominated films that tell the stories of people of color and other marginalized people. As the world awaits to see who wins big at the most anticipated award ceremony in Hollywood, here are some interesting facts on these nominees that you may not know.
Four out the nine films nominated for Best Picture this year feature people of color in lead roles. These films are “Lion,” “Hidden Figures,” “Fences,” and “Moonlight.”
With eight nominations, “Moonlight” (2016) is the second-most nominated film at the Academy Awards this year, behind Damien Chazelle’s “La La Land.”
Denzel Washington received his fifth Oscar nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his performance in “Fences.” This makes him the most nominated African-American actor ever with seven nominations in total: five for Best Actor and two for Best Supporting Actor.
“Loving” star Ruth Negga received her first nomination for Best Actress in Leading Role. She is also the first black African actress to be nominated in this category. Negga is of Ethiopian and Irish descent.
Mahershala Ali, nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his portrayal of Juan in “Moonlight,”is best known for his roles as Cornell Stokes in “Luke Cage” and Remy Danton in “House of Cards.”
Dev Patel, a nominee for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, became a breakout star when he starred in Danny Boyle’s “Slumdog Millionaire,” for which he received a SAG Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor and BAFTA Award nomination for Best Actor.
Viola Davis (“Fences”), Octavia Spencer (“Hidden Figures”), and Naomie Harris (“Moonlight”) are all nominated for Best Actress in a Supporting Role this year. Harris is a first time nominee, while Davis and Spencer have received multiple nominations. Davis previously won a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for her role as Rose Maxson in the Broadway revival of “Fences.”
Three of the five nominated films for Best Documentary (Feature) are focused on black narratives. “I Am Not Your Negro” is based on the unfinished manuscript by black author and activist James Baldwin. “13th” highlights the systemic mass incarceration on people of color in the United States. “O.J.: Made in America” gives a comprehensive look at the life and career of O.J. Simpson and its relation to the larger story of race and celebrity in United States.
“Moonlight” director Barry Jenkins is the fourth black filmmaker to receive an Oscar nomination in the Best Director category. Those who precede him include John Singleton (“Boyz N The Hood”), Lee Daniels (“Precious”), and Steve McQueen (“12 Years A Slave”).
Joi McMillon, co-editor of “Moonlight” with Nat Sanders, is the first black woman to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Film Editing.
“Hamilton” playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda is one step away from achieving his EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony) with his Best Original Song Oscar nomination for “How Far I’ll Go” from the Disney-animated feature “Moana” (2016).
The 89th Academy Awards, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, airs live on Sunday, February 26, 2017 at 7e|4p on ABC.