In a year that has seen Hollywood plagued by controversy and scrutinized for both its hypocrisy and its attempts at progress, Tuesday’s Oscar nominations came as a hopeful signifier of changes to come.
The nominations, which were announced live from the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills early Tuesday, revealed some serious milestones for the industry. Below, five ways that this year’s nominations are making Hollywood history.
1. Greta Gerwig is the first woman to be nominated for the Best Director category in eight years, and the fifth overall. The Lady Bird director and her team are also up for four other Oscars, including Best Actress (Saoirse Ronan), Best Supporting Actress (Laurie Metcalfe), Best Original Screenplay (Gerwig) and Best Picture.
The last time a woman was nominated was in 2010, when Zero Dark Thirty’s Kathryn Bigelow was up for the Best Director honors (which she won over her ex-husband, James Cameron, for his film Avatar). Other women who have nabbed the Best Director nomination include Lina Wertmuller (Seven Beauties, 1977), Jane Campion (The Piano, 1994) and Sofia Coppola (Lost in Translation, 2004).
2. Jordan Peele is the fifth black director to be nominated in the Best Director category. The filmmaker’s race-centric film, Get Out, was not victorious at the Golden Globes and the SAG Awards earlier this year, but it has a strong showing at this year’s Academy Awards, with nominations for Best Actor (Daniel Kaluuya), Best Original Screenplay (Peele) and Best Picture in addition to his Best Director nod. Peele is also the third person to receive nominations in the directing, writing and best picture categories, and the first person of color to do so.
“I just spoke to Daniel,” he tweeted shortly after learning of the film’s nominations. “You know when you’re on the phone trying to disguise the sound of an ugly cry? I failed at that.” He later added, “Right now I’m just thinking about everyone who bought a ticket and told someone else to. You did this. Thank you.” Previous black directors who have received the prestigious nomination include John Singleton (Boyz n the Hood, 1991), Lee Daniels (Precious, 2009), Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave, 2013) and Barry Jenkins (Moonlight, 2017).
3. Rachel Morrison becomes the first woman to ever be nominated for best cinematography in the Academy’s 90-year history. “I’m glad that people are recognizing the craft of it and not making decisions based on tokenism,” Mudbound director Dee Rees said on a recent episode of Variety’s “Playback” podcast. “Rachel’s work is on the screen.”
Morrison previously won the New York Film Critics Circle’s cinematography prize in December, and was also nominated for a Critics’ Choice Award. Her work can next be seen in Marvel’s upcoming Black Panther.
4. Octavia Spencer is the first black actress to receive two consecutive Oscar nominations after winning one (for her role in The Help in 2012). Spencer is up for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar this year for her role in The Shape of Water, which was nominated for 13 Oscars this year, and was nominated in the same category last year for Hidden Figures.
With three nominations total over the years, Spencer is now tied with Viola Davis as the most nominated black actress in the Academy Awards’ 90-year history. Davis was nominated for Best Supporting Actress in 2009’s Doubt and in last year’s Fences (for which she won), and earned a nomination for Best Actress for her role in 2012’s The Help.
5. Meryl Streep maintained her title of most nominated performer of all time with her 21st Oscar nomination, for this year’s The Post. The Best Actress nominee released a statement following Tuesday’s announcement pointing out the importance of the film in today’s social climate.
“I am honored beyond measure by this nomination for a film I love, a film that stands in defense of press freedom, and inclusion of women’s voices in the movement of history,” she said in the statement. “Proud of the film, and all her filmmakers. Thank you from a full heart.” Streep was previously the record-holder for most nominated actor, with runners-up Jack Nicholson and Katharine Hepburn trailing far behind with 12 nominations each.