Courtesy of Wikimedia Images

by Prameela Kottapalli

The 2017 Oscar nominations are #NotSoWhiteAnymore– representing a profound reversal of the “diversity drought” that has stirred up controversy in Hollywood for the past two years. This year, the Academy recognizes six films that commemorate the Black experience of the past and present, from biopics highlighting African-American achievements to powerful documentaries directed by Black women.

“It is about time that they acknowledge that African American people did something,” Wynter Chaverst. “Hollywood has a tendency to always nominate caucasian people for certain roles, and hearing that all these movies are being nominated, it brings this warmth to my heart that I haven’t felt in so long because I feel like my people haven’t gotten the recognition and the chances that a lot of other races have had, a lot of the chances that we’re just now getting.”

The 2016 and 2015 Oscar nominations– dominated by a lack of diversity in its top four categories– spurred a surge of backlash, including protests and, at the center of it all, the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag.
“It’s good to see that the outrage has caused some change, because a lot of people think that when they try to push for something, the progressiveness work and they won’t get their message across,” Jadan McDermott (11) said. “But I think this year shows that, even in such a short span of time, they’re capable of making such big changes, which is kind of inspiring to see.”

And the Oscar goes to…

Best Actress

Nominees: Meryl Streep (“Florence Foster Jenkins”), Ruth Negga (“Loving”), Isabelle Huppert, (“Elle”), Natalie Portman ( “Jackie”), Emma Stone, (“La La Land”)

Our Pick: Ruth Negga

Although Emma Stone brought energy to the big screen in her lighthearted performance in “La La Land,” Irish-Ethiopian actress Ruth Negga brings the Loving vs Virginia case of 1967 to life in her heartfelt portrayal of Mildred Loving. Loving was an African-American woman whose love for her white husband ended up transforming laws relating to interracial marriage in the US.


Best Supporting Actor

Nominees: Lucas Hedges (“Manchester by the Sea”), Dev Patel (“Lion”), Michael Shannon (“Nocturnal Animals”), Jeff Bridges (“Hell or High Water”), Mahershala Ali (“Moonlight”)

Our Pick: Mahershala Ali

Ali’s standout performance as a drug dealer and struggling father in the coming-of-age drama “Moonlight” earned him a breakaway award at the SAG’s on Jan. 29 and now garners him the top honor in a category dominated by white actors.


Best Supporting Actress

Nominees: Viola Davis (“Fences”), Michelle Williams (“Manchester by the Sea”), Naomie Harris (“Moonlight”), Nicole Kidman (“Lion”), Octavia Spencer (“Hidden Figures”)

Our Pick: Octavia Spencer

Spencer’s powerful yet spunky role as one of the African-American women whose mathematical contributions helped launch astronaut John Glenn into space merits her the award for best Supporting Actress.