Oscars: 10 ways the Academy just made history

Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images Entertainment / Getty Images
Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images Entertainment / Getty Images

The 90th Academy Awards celebrated a significant number of history-making milestones this year, during the most inclusive ceremony—in its entire history. Here are the top 10 achievements in inclusion, achieved by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Sunday night:    

1. Greta Gerwig (Writer/Director, “Lady Bird”) is the first female director to be nominated in the Directing category in eight years. Only four other female directors have been nominated in the Academy’s 90-year history. Previous nominees include Lina Wertimüller (“Seven Beauties”, 1977), Jane Campion (“The Piano”, 1994), Sophia Coppola (“Lost in Translation”, 2004), and Kathryn Bigelow (“Hurt Locker”, 2010).

2. Mary J. Blige (“Mudbound”) is the first artist to be nominated in the two categories: Best Original Song for “Might River” and Best Supporting Actress for her role as Florence Jackson. This is Blige’s first acting role in a major motion picture.

3. Dee Rees (Writer/Director, “Mudbound”) is the first black and gay woman to be nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay. Rees co-wrote the screenplay based on Hillary Jordan’s 2008 debut novel of the same title, with co-writer, Virgil Williams. Rees also directed the film but missed out on a directing nomination. Previously, only one other black woman has been nominated for screenwriting: Suzanne de Passe (“Lady Sings the Blues”, 1972).

4. Rachael Morrison (Director of Photography, “Mudbound”) is the first woman to be nominated in the Cinematography category. Morrison is also the Director of Photography of box-office smash-hit, “Black Panther”— the first major Marvel movie to feature a black leading character—which has already achieved nearly $900 million in global box office receipts.   

5. James Ivory (Screenwriter, “Call Me By Your Name”) is the oldest—at age 89—male Academy Award winner, winning the award for Best Adapted Screenplay. Ivory is an industry veteran who has been previously Oscar-nominated as Director of “The Remains of the Day”, “Howard’s End” and “A Room with a View”.

6. “The Shape of Water” is the first Science Fiction film to win in the Best Picture category. It’s beloved director, Guillermo del Toro, is only the third Mexican director to win. Previous winners include Alejandro Iñárritu for “Birdman” and “The Revenant" and Alfonso Cuaron for “Gravity”.

7. Jordan Peel (first-time Writer/Director, “Get Out”) just became the first black nominee to ever win the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. On his win, Peele remarked:

“I am so proud to be at the beginning of a movement where the best films in every genre are being bought by my fellow black directors.”

Oscars host Jimmy Kimmel praised Peele's historic nominations in his opening monologue;

“Jordan is only the third person in 90 years to be nominated for Best Writing, Directing and Best Picture for his debut film.”

8. Yance Ford (“Strong Island”) is the first transgender director of an Oscar-nominated film (Best Documentary). Although his powerful true-crime documentary did not win, he has previously celebrated the milestone on his Twitter account, stating:

"If my making history makes it easier for a trans kid at home somewhere to feel more at home in their skin, then I'm so excited about that. If I can use this moment to remind folks that trans people are subject to violence at greater rates than any other group in this country, I'm happy about that. If I can help one family embrace their child and not displace them and throw them out, I'm happy about that."

9. “Coco” is the first Academy Award-winning animated feature film to have a Latino protagonist. Its award-winning composer, Bobby Lopez, has just accomplished his second “EGOT”—winning all four major entertainment prizes (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony)—twice. Lopez co-wrote the global hit “Let it Go” for Disney’s animated feature “Frozen”.

10. “A Fantastic Woman” is the first Academy Award-winning film (Best Foreign Language Film) with a transgender lead, played by Daniela Vega, who also made history as the Academy’s first openly transgender presenter.

At the end of the historic night—Frances McDormand, who won Best Lead Actress for her portrayal of a grieving mother seeking to avenge her murdered daughter’s death in, ”Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”, closed her passionate acceptance speech with two words: “Inclusion Rider” and encouraged the industry’s top decision-makers to invite women into their offices to discuss their projects, and take action to hire, produce, and finance more diverse talent and films. 

With the undisputed success of “Wonder Woman” and “Black Panther”, executives will have no choice but to pay attention to the demand for inclusion from both global audiences and A-list talent.

In the words of Kumail Nanjiani who featured in the Oscar's "Represent Montage" and was nominated for Best Original Screenplay for “The Big Sick”: 

There are so many movies from a different point of view that are making a tonne of money. Don’t do it because it’s better for society and representation, even though it is. Do it because you can get rich.”

You can view "The Oscars - Represent Montage" below, that featured in ABC's Oscars broadcast ©A.M.P.A.S 2018:

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