2019 Oscar Nominees: #OscarsSoBlack?

by Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D.

Image featured from director Barry Jenkins latest film If Beale Street Could Talk actors Stephan James and Kiki Lane)

The 2019 Oscar nominations are out and it is safe to say the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is acknowledging the phenomenal work of Black filmmakers and performers this season.

While there were some surprises — Ryan Coogler was not included in the Best Director category for Black Panther and John David Washington was excluded from the Best Actor category for BlacKkKlansman — there were many delights like Regina King’s nomination for Best Actress for If Beale Street Could Talk.

Ruth Carter earned a nomination for Best Costume Design and Hanna Beachler is nominated for Best Production Design for Black Panther. It is lovely to see Carter whose amazing body of work goes back to 1988 with Spike Lee’s School Daze, is finally getting the recognition she deserves, having long been honored in African-American film circles.

Beachler’s nomination makes her the first African-American to be recognized in this category.

Spike Lee’s first-ever nomination for Best Director for BlacKkKlansman is history making and the film’s producer Jordan Peele could take home the statue to match his Best Original Screenplay win for Get Out. Lee, who won an honorary Oscar for his body of work in 2016, has yet to win a competitive Academy Award.

Mahershala Ali, 2017 Academy Award winner for best supporting actor for his performance in Barry Jenkins’ Academy award-winning film Moonlight, scored a nomination for the same category for his role as Dr. Don Shirley in Green Book. Peter Ramsey earned an Oscar nod for Best Animated Feature for co-producing Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, which is the first time an African-American has been nominated in that category.

Academy award-winning writer Barry Jenkins (Moonlight) received another nod for best adapted screenplay despite not being nominated for Best Director or receiving a Best Picture nod for If Beale Street Could Talk. Iconic filmmaker Spike Lee along with co-writers Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz and Kevin Willmott also received a nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay for BlacKkKlansman.

Nominated documentary short Black Sheep examines race in the United Kingdom and Lifeboat takes a harrowing look at North African migrants fleeing Libya and attempting to make it across Mediterranean sea. Director and cinematographer RaMell Ross could bring home an Oscar for his documentary Hale County This Morning, This Evening, which explores the intimate lives of two black men in rural Alabama and their life choices.

Based on nomination announcements, it seems that we’re in the midst of an #OscarsSoBlack moment.

Fans familiar with the history of the Oscars and racial inclusion know by now that the Oscars aren’t the NAACP Image Awards and aren’t trying to recreate that experience for Black fans. However, it is evident — at least this year — that Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences President Cheryl Boone Isaacs’ A2020 mandate for more diversity and representation has been heard and is working.

Black filmmakers and performers have been working in the film industry for more than 100 years, so why shouldn’t they be acknowledged by the world’s preeminent motion picture association?
One of the great qualities about being Black is resiliency which is reflected in black cultural production. While many are proud of these significant accomplishments,Back filmmakers and performers will continue to make movies and memories for years to come, with or without Academy Award nominations.

Following is Partial  List of 2019 Oscar Nominations. 

The Oscar’s airs on Sunday, February 24  at 8 p.m.

BEST PICTURE
Black Panther
BlacKkKlansman
Bohemian Rhapsody
The Favourite
Green Book
Roma
A Star Is Born
Vice

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Amy Adams, “Vice”
Marina de Tavira, “Roma”
Regina King, “If Beale Street Could Talk”
Emma Stone, “The Favourite”
Rachel Weisz, “The Favourite”

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Mahershala Ali, Green Book
Adam Driver, BlackKKlansman
Sam Elliott, A Star Is Born
Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Sam Rockwell, Vice

DOCUMENTARY (SHORT)
“Black Sheep”
End Game”
Lifeboat”
A Night at the Garden”
“Period. End of Sentence.”

ORIGINAL SONG
All The Stars” – Black Panther
I’ll Fight” – RBG
“Shallow” – A Star Is Born
“The Place Where Lost Things Go” – Mary Poppins Returns
“When A Cowboy Trades His Spurs For Wings” – The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
Incredibles 2
Isle of Dogs
Mirai
Ralph Breaks the Internet
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
BlacKkKlansman
Can You Ever Forgive Me?
If Beale Street Could Talk
A Star Is Born

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
First Reformed
Green Book
Roma
The Favourite
Vice

DIRECTOR
Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman
Pawel Pawlikowski, Cold War
Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite
Alfonso Cuarón, Roma
Adam McKay, Vice

PRODUCTION DESIGN
Black Panther
The Favourite
First Man
Mary Poppins Returns
Roma

COSTUME DESIGN
Mary Queen of Scots
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Mary Poppins Returns
Black Panther Sandy Powell

ORIGINAL SCORE
Black Panther
BlacKkKlansman
If Beale Street Could Talk

VISUAL EFFECTS
Avengers: Infinity War
Christopher Robin
First Man
Ready Player One
Solo: A Star Wars Story
BlacKkKlansman
Bohemian Rhapsody
Green Book
The Favourite
Vice

Writer/ Media Scholar / Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D.

Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D. is entertainment and culture editor for NNPA/BlackPressUSA. A film and media scholar, Dr. Burton is founder and editor-in-chief of the award-winning news blog The Burton Wire, which covers news of the African diaspora. Follow her on Twitter @Ntellectual or @TheBurtonWire.