2017 Oscars preview: Women set records but are still underrepresented among Oscar nominees

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The 89th Academy Awards air tonight. Photo provided

The 89th Academy Awards air tonight. Photo provided

The 89th Academy Awards will be handed out tonight live on ABC, and for women, this year’s Oscar nominations mean good news and bad news.

Let’s get the bad news out of the way, especially since I’m sure it will come to no surprise to industry watchers or regular readers of this blog.

Despite a slew of films such as “Jackie,” “Arrival” and “Hidden Figures” featuring strong, complex women in the lead, the number of female Oscar nominees for behind-the-scenes roles dropped among this year’s Academy Award nominations, according to EW.

According to an analysis by the Women’s Media Center, co-founded by Jane Fonda, Robin Morgan, and Gloria Steinem, only 20 percent of the non-acting categories featured women, dipping 2 percentage points from last year’s nominations.

For the seventh year in a row, no female directors were nominated in the directing category. Kathryn Bigelow is still the only woman to take home the prize for her 2008 film “The Hurt Locker.” Only three other women, including Lina Wertmüller, Jane Campion and Sofia Coppola, have ever been nominated in the category.

Only one woman — “Hidden Figures” screenwriter Allison Schroeder — is included in the screenwriting category this year. And the cinematography category continued its streak of nominating only men in its 89-year history.

“We have a saying: ‘If you can see it, you can be it,’ but in the crucial behind-the-scenes non-acting roles, our investigation shows that what you see is 80 percent of all nominees are men,” Julie Burton, president of the Women’s Media Center, told EW. “Four out of five nominees are men — meaning male voices and perspectives are largely responsible for what we see on screen.”

Meryl Streep, appearing in the lead role in "Florence Foster Jenkins, will receive the 2017 Cecil B. DeMille Award at tonight's Golden Globe Awards. Paramount Pictures photo

Meryl Streep, appearing in the lead role in “Florence Foster Jenkins, will receive the 2017 Cecil B. DeMille Award at tonight’s Golden Globe Awards. Paramount Pictures photo

The good news is that the Oscars nominations broke several records for women this year.

As previously reported, Meryl Streep is nominated for best actress for her title role as an opera singer of dubious talent in “Florence Foster Jenkins.” It’s the 20th Oscar nomination for Streep, and she again broke her own record for the most acting Oscar nods for a single person. Katharine Hepburn and Jack Nicholson follow with 12 nominations each, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Streep was first nominated in 1979 in the supporting actress category for her performance in “The Deer Hunter.” Her 20 nominations include 16 for actress in a leading role and four for supporting actress.

She was last nominated in 2015 for “Into the Woods.” Her nominations have lead to three wins: supporting actress in 1980 for “Kramer vs. Kramer,” lead actress in 1983 for “Sophie’s Choice,” and lead actress again in 2012 for “The Iron Lady.”

In addition, Viola Davis is now the first black actress to have scored three Academy Award nominations, reports the L.A. Times. Whoopi Goldberg previously held the record with two, after she was nominated in 1986 for best supporting actress for “The Color Purple” and won best supporting actress for 1991′s “Ghost.”

Previously nominated in 2009 for her performance in “Doubt” and again in 2012 for “The Help,” Davis is nominated this time for best supporting actress for actor/director Denzel Washington’s screen adaptation of August Wilson’s esteemed stage drama “Fences.”

“Thank you to the Academy for recognizing this extraordinary, important film and my work in it. Thank you Denzel for being at the helm!” Davis said in a statement when the nominations were announced.

This year marks the first time ever that three black performers are nominated for the best supporting actress Oscar in the same year, reports The Wrap. Joining Davis in the supporting actress category are “Hidden Figures’” Octavia Spencer, who won the supporting actress trophy in 2012 for “The Help,” and “Moonlight’s” Naomie Harris, a first-time Academy Award nominee.

After the #OscarsSoWhite controversy of the past two years, the Academy nominated a record six black actors this year: Along with the three supporting actress contenders, the nominees are “Loving’s” Ruth Negga for best actress; “Fences’” Denzel Washington for best actor; and “Moonlight’s” Mahershala Ali for best supporting actor. In addition, Dev Patel, who is of Gujarati Indian descent, is nominated for best supporting actor for “Lion.”

This year’s Oscar nomination for “Moonlight” editors Joi McMillon and Nat Sanders was a first for both editors — and it makes McMillon the first black woman to earn an Oscar nomination in film editing, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

As previously reported, the movie musical “La La Land” earned a leading 14 nominations, putting it in a tie with “Titanic” and “All About Eve” for the most in Academy Awards history. Its nods include best picture, best director and best original screenplay for writer-director Damien Chazelle, best actress for Emma Stone and best actor for Ryan Gosling.

The Oscars red carpet starts at 7 p.m. Eastern Time / 6 p.m. Central with the ceremony beginning at 8:30 p.m. Eastern / 7:30 p.m. Central. I’ll be following along live at my BAM’s Blog and on Twitter @BAMOK.

-BAM

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