Academy Goes Gaga for 'La la'; Diversity Was Very Much on Academy Voters' Minds This Year, as Evidenced by the Nominations Announced Jan. 24. Nods across All Major Categories Singled out Films about the African-American Experience, Including Three of the Nine Films Nominated for Best Picture, "Moonlight," "Fences" and "Hidden Figures." [Derived Headline]

By Derakhshani, Tirdad | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 25, 2017 | Go to article overview

Academy Goes Gaga for 'La la'; Diversity Was Very Much on Academy Voters' Minds This Year, as Evidenced by the Nominations Announced Jan. 24. Nods across All Major Categories Singled out Films about the African-American Experience, Including Three of the Nine Films Nominated for Best Picture, "Moonlight," "Fences" and "Hidden Figures." [Derived Headline]


Derakhshani, Tirdad, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Diversity was very much on Academy voters' minds this year, as evidenced by the nominations announced Jan. 24. Nods across all major categories singled out films about the African-American experience, including three of the nine films nominated for best picture, "Moonlight," "Fences" and "Hidden Figures."

Academy voters seem to have gotten the message after facing harsh criticism for failing to nominate even a single black actor two years in a row. This year, seven actors picked up nominations including Denzel Washington for best actor for "Fences" and "Moonlight's" Mahershala Ali for best supporting actor.

But you can never accuse the Academy's more than 5,700 members for failing to be just a little predictable. As prognosticators guessed, romantic musical "La La Land" led nominees with a total of 14, tying the record with "Titantic" and "All About Eve." With nominations for best director Damien Chazelle, top actor nods to Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, and of course best picture, you can bet money "La La Land" will be the big winner come February. It already has swept virtually every other major award, picking up a record seven prizes at the Golden Globes.

'Fences' sets milestones

The nominations for "Fences," which is based on Pittsburgh native August Wilson's play, are notable for several reasons.

Denzel Washington, who starred, directed and co-produced "Fences," which was shot and set in Pittsburgh's Hill District, becomes the seventh person to receive acting and best picture nominations for the same film. With her supporting actress nod, Viola Davis became the first black actress to earn three Oscar nominations, while Washington picked up his seventh nomination.

And the movie garnered a nomination for Wilson, more than 10 years after his death.

When Wilson received word in 2005 that he had inoperable Stage IV cancer, he had not yet accomplished two major things in an already notable and historic career.

"I think he felt proud of his achievements and faced death the way he faced life: courageously and uncompromisingly," said Constanza Romero, Wilson's widow, as well as his costume designer and all-around sounding board. "But August wanted two things to happen that hadn't happened. He wanted 'Jitney' (his 1970s-set play about Pittsburgh cab drivers) to finally be on Broadway. And he really, really wanted this movie to come into being."

Wilson, who wrote the screenplay of his 1983 stage masterwork before his death in 2005, was nominated for best adapted screenplay. …

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Academy Goes Gaga for 'La la'; Diversity Was Very Much on Academy Voters' Minds This Year, as Evidenced by the Nominations Announced Jan. 24. Nods across All Major Categories Singled out Films about the African-American Experience, Including Three of the Nine Films Nominated for Best Picture, "Moonlight," "Fences" and "Hidden Figures." [Derived Headline]
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