As largely expected, La La Land dominated Tuesday’s Oscar nominations list, with the gauzy, self-aware throwback musical receiving 14 nods (tying a record held by All About Eve and Titanic) to lead the field in 2016. But the Academy otherwise spread the wealth among a largely worthy set of intimate dramas and critically acclaimed genre films. The list also did a far better job of acknowledging the film industry’s diversity of storytellers and performers than last year’s highly controversial list, which excluded any major actor, director, or writer of color.
The Miami-set coming-of-age drama Moonlight and the emotionally resonant sci-fi drama Arrival netted eight nominations each including Best Picture and Best Director. Mel Gibson’s World War II film Hacksaw Ridge, Kenneth Lonergan’s family drama Manchester by the Sea, and Garth Davis’s true-story travelogue Lion each received six nominations including Best Picture, a list that was rounded out with Theodore Melfi’s NASA biopic Hidden Figures, Denzel Washington’s August Wilson adaptation Fences, and David Mackenzie’s bank-robber thriller Hell or High Water.
This year’s list included seven actors of color, three African American writers (including the late August Wilson, who wrote the screenplay for Fences), and a Best Director nomination for Barry Jenkins (Moonlight), who becomes only the fourth black director nominated in the Oscars’ history after John Singleton, Lee Daniels, and Steve McQueen. After the controversy over last year’s nominees was crystalized in the “#OscarsSoWhite” online protests (the hashtag was started in 2015), the Academy moved to revamp its membership in an initiative spearheaded by its president, Cheryl Boone Isaacs.