Oscars 2017: Here Are All the “Firsts” and Milestones Among the Nominees

It was a breakthrough year for black talent.

viola davis, best performance, by mario sorrenti, styled by edward enninful. W magazine Feb 2012.jpg
Photo by Mario Sorrenti, styled by Edward Enninful.

After last year’s #OscarsSoWhite controversy, the Academy sought to diversify itself. Accordingly, this year’s class of nominees have broken several records. Not only is it the first time that a black actor has been nominated in every single acting category, but other milestones, like the first black woman ever nominated for editing, were also achieved.

In addition to this myriad of firsts, it was also a breakthrough year for portrayals of First Ladies on film, the country of Australia, and virtual reality. Here are all the happy surprises among this year’s nominees.

Black Actors Nominated in Every Acting Category for the First Time Ever

It wasn’t a given. The incredibly tight Best Actress category meant that Ruth Negga’s nomination wasn’t guaranteed, but when her name was announced it meant that for the first time ever a black actor is nominated in every single acting category. In fact, the six black actor nominations is also a record.

__First Time Three Black Nominees in the Same Category

Viola Davis, Naomie Harris and Octavia Spencer’s inclusion in the best Supporting Actress category means that for the first time ever a single category include three black nominees.

The First Time Two Screenplays by Black Writers are Nominated

Nominations for the late playwright August Wilson for Fences and Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney for Moonlight makes it the first year that two nominated scripts were written by African-Americans.

The First Black Woman Ever Nominated for Best Editing

Joi McMillon, one of Moonlight‘s two editors, is the first black woman ever nominated in the Best Editing category.

Moonlight is the first Miami movie to be nominated

Ah, Miami, the pastel-and-neon setting for films as varied as Scarface and The Birdcage, but never for a film taken that seriously by the Academy. Sure, previous winners like The Godfather Part II and Midnight Cowboy had scenes set in the Magic City, but Moonlight is the first primarily Miami-set movie to ever be nominated for Best Picture.

Amazon is the First Streaming Service to Score a Best Picture Nomination

Yes, Manchester by the Sea had a traditional theatrical release, but Amazon Studio is still behind it, and it’s the first streaming service to score a nomination in the biggest category.

Natalie Portman is the First Best Actress Nominee Recognized for Playing a First Lady

Actresses have won Oscars for playing queens and prime ministers, but never a first lady. In fact, Natalie Portman is the first actress ever to be nominated in the lead actress category for portraying a President’s wife. Joan Allen was nominated for her portrayal of Pat Nixon and Sally Field for her role as Mary Todd Lincoln, but neither won, and both nominations came in the supporting actress category.

Australia Gets its First Foreign Language Picture Nomination

The category is for films in foreign languages, not just foreign films in general. So it’s not a surprise that primarily English-speaking Australia has never been recognized in the category. When Tanna, a film shot in the South Oceanic Nauvhal language, scored a nod, it became the first Australia film ever recognized in the category.

Pearl is the First Virtual Reality Film Nominated

Pearl, a short film commissioned by Google, which was released both as a theatrical and 360-degree virtual reality film, is the first VR film nominated for an Oscar.

La La Land is the First Traditional Non-Animated Original Movie Non-Diegetic Musical Nominated Since Gigi

Ok, maybe not the most historic feat, but La La Land is the first movie with an original story and completely original songs to be nominated for Best Picture since 1958’s Gigi (which, incidentally, won). If you take out the “non-diegetic” part, then it would be the first to do so since 1975’s Nashville. If you ease up on the non-animated part, well there was 1991’s Beauty and the Beast. And if remove the clause about original songs, well, there’s still 2001’s Moulin Rouge!. But still: historic!

Watch W’s Oscar nominations playlist: