African American Artists Well Represented In Oscar Nominations
The 91st Academy Award nominations delivered the expected and unexpected, with a strong showing for African American artists, who were nominated in 10 out of 24 categories, matching totals achieved in 2016 and 2017, according to a report by Nick Clement of the well known entertainment industry news magazine Variety.
“Every year, further steps are taken towards inclusion, but obviously more needs to be done to support women filmmakers,” says Gil Robertson, co-founder and president of the African American Film Critics Assn. (AAFCA), referring to the fact that no female helmers were cited for feature film work in 2018 at the Oscars. However, Lebanon’s Nadine Labaki’s “Capernaum” was nominated in the foreign-language race. Docu directors Julie Cohen and Betsy West were nommed for “RBG.” The AAFCA was formed in 2003, and includes 53 members nationwide, all of whom vote at the end of the year for their own awards program, this year selecting “Black Panther” as top choice.
“We’re ecstatic that ‘Black Panther’ has received a best picture nomination from the Academy. It’s a culturally historic moment for moviegoers and for the genre,” Robertson says.
It’s the second time that three African Americans (Spike Lee & Kevin Willmott for “BlacKkKlansman,” and Barry Jenkins for “If Beale Street Could Talk”) were nominated for adapted screenplay in the same year, while Hannah Beachler (“Black Panther”) became the first African American to be nominated for production design. Peter Ramsey, who co-directed and co-produced “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” is the first African-American to be nominated for animated feature, and costume designer Ruth E. Carter, who has two previous nominations for her work on “Malcolm X” and “Amistad,” received recognition for her gorgeous and evocative work on “Black Panther.”
“Black Panther” also received nominations for song (“All the Stars”) as well as original score, a category that also features “If Beale Street Could Talk” and “BlacKkKlansman.” And in the documentary feature category, African-American RaMell Ross’ “Hale County This Morning, This Evening” and Asian-American Bing Liu’s “Minding the Gap,” were nominated. Both have African-American characters and themes.
Surprisingly, iconic filmmaker Lee is receiving his first-ever directing nomination, for his blistering efforts on “BlacKkKlansman,” while also becoming only the second African American to be honored with three nominations in the same year (picture, director and adapted screenplay).
“It’s too insane to try and comprehend the idea that Spike Lee has never been nominated for best director at the Oscars,” says AAFCA co-founder Shawn Edwards, who also serves as film critic for Fox 4 News in Kansas City. “He’s had a major influence on younger generations of filmmakers, and ‘BlacKkKlansman’ is one of the best films of his career. I’m so happy for him.”