Oscar nominations: Will more diverse picks signal a change in Hollywood?

Only “Titanic” (1997) and another showbiz-themed movie, “All About Eve” (1950), had previously garnered that many nominations. Nonetheless, the other big nominations news is #Oscarsnotsowhite this year. The jazz-happy film has garnered some criticism for its focus on white characters. When the 89th Academy Awards nominations were revealed Tuesday morning, the Hollywood-loving musical “La La Land” tied the record by picking up 14. Both went on to win the Best Picture Oscar, which of course “La La” will be up for when the awards are handed out on Feb. 26.Other key “La La” nominations include Directing and Original Screenplay for Damien Chazelle, Lead Actor Ryan Gosling and Lead Actress Emma Stone.
The Best Actress race includes France’s Isabelle Huppert for her astonishingly unpredictable rape victim character in “Elle,” Natalie Portman’s shell-shocked but formidable First Widow “Jackie” and, for the actress’ 20th time, Meryl Streep’s off-key “Florence Foster Jenkins,” along with Negga’s unassuming civil rights pioneer and Stone’s aspiring movie star. Competing with Gosling and Washington for Best Actor are Casey Affleck (“Manchester”), Andrew Garfield (“Hacksaw”) and Viggo Mortensen (“Captain Fantastic”).

That situation led to much controversy and changes to the academy’s still predominantly white male voting membership. British South Asian actor Dev Patel (“Lion”) made it seven out of 20 acting slots occupied by people of color, a huge change from the previous two years when all the nominated performers were Caucasians. Whether those factors or a high degree of quality films about African-Americans released in 2016 led to Tuesday’s results will be debated endlessly for at least the next month. Six black actors — “Fences’” Denzel Washington in male Lead and “Loving’s” Ruth Negga in female Lead, while “Moonlight’s” Mahershala Ali and Naomi Harris, “Fences’” Viola Davis and “Hidden Figures’” Octavia Spencer in Supporting roles — all got nods.

Beside “La La,” the other eight Best Picture nominees are “Arrival,” “Fences,” “Hacksaw Ridge,” “Hell or High Water,” “Hidden Figures,” “Lion,” “Manchester by the Sea” and “Moonlight.” The cerebral sci-fi saga “Arrival” and sensitive indie study of a young man from Miami’s inner city “Moonlight” boast the second highest number of nominations with eight each, followed by six apiece for Mel Gibson’s harrowing war drama “Hacksaw,” the lost Indian child tale “Lion” and sad-with-humor character study “Manchester.”