There weren’t many shocking surprises to be found in this year’s Academy Award nominations, but there were plenty of breakthroughs. Whether you choose to cheer these landmarks or to lament that it took us so long to reach them, we’ve rounded up these historic firsts below.
The first black woman nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay
Dee Rees, the director and writer of Mudbound, is the first black woman to be nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay, having adapted Mudbound from Hillary Jordan’s novel of the same name. Rees joins Suzanne de Passe, one of the screenwriters behind 1972’s Lady Sings the Blues, as only the second black woman to be nominated for screenwriting. She is also the first queer black woman to be nominated for a writing award.
The first woman nominated for Best Cinematography
Rachel Morrison is first woman to be nominated for Best Cinematography, after 90 years of all-male nominees. Earlier this year, Morrison already became the first woman to win the New York Film Critics Circle’s cinematography award, and she is also the first woman to shoot a major superhero movie with her next film, Marvel’s Black Panther, out next month.
The first trans director nominated for Best Documentary Feature, and the first openly trans man nominated for an Oscar
As journalist and historian Mark Harris pointed out on Twitter, Yance Ford is the first openly transgender director to be nominated for an Academy Award, for his deeply personal documentary Strong Island. He is also the first transgender man to be nominated for any Oscar. No openly transgender person has ever won an Oscar, but previous nominees include Anohni for Best Original Song in 2016 and composer Angela Morley, who received two nominations for The Little Prince and The Slipper and the Rose in the ’70s.
The first black filmmaker nominated for directing, writing, and producing in the same year
Get Out performed extraordinarily well in the 2018 Oscar nominations, making the quadruple-threat Jordan Peele the first black person to ever be nominated for directing, writing, and producing in the same year. The writer-director-producer-actor is only the third person to pull this off on their first feature as a director.
Peele is only the fifth black person to be nominated for Best Director, joining John Singleton, Lee Daniels, Steve McQueen, and Barry Jenkins on that too-short list. (No black woman has ever been nominated.) If he wins, he will be the first black director in history to win the award.
The first person nominated for an acting performance and an original song on the same film
Double Oscar nominee Mary J. Blige was recognized twice for her contributions to Mudbound, nominated for Best Supporting Actress and Best Original Song.
The first person over the age of 87 to be nominated for an acting award
88-year-old Christopher Plummer was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his Kevin Spacey–replacing performance in All The Money in the World, after taking part in a speedy reshoot that took just nine days. Plummer is now the oldest acting nominee in Oscars history, replacing Titanic’s Gloria Stuart, who was 87 at the time of her nomination. Plummer already holds the record for oldest actor to take home an Oscar, having won the same award for Beginners in 2012, when he was a sprightly 82-year-old.
The first people over 88 years to be nominated for any award
Plummer is not the oldest person to be nominated for a non-honorary Oscar, however. According to the Telegraph, that crown now belongs to 89-year-old Agnès Varda, the French director who was nominated Tuesday for Best Documentary Feature for her film Faces Places. She beat out James Ivory, who was also nominated Tuesday for Best Adapted Screenplay for Call Me by Your Name, by eight days.
The first superhero film nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay
Logan is the first superhero movie to receive a nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay, after many decades of superhero movie adaptions. Logan was adapted from the world of X-Men by James Mangold, Scott Frank, and Michael Green.
While some have claimed that Logan is the first comic-book adaptation to be nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay, American Splendor and Ghost World were previously nominated in the category. Similarly, it’s not the first superhero movie to be nominated for a screenplay award: The Incredibles was nominated for Best Original Screenplay.
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