Brow Beat

The 2019 Oscar Nominees Include Some Historic Firsts

Roma and Black Panther are among the history-making films.

Yalitza Aparicio, Chadwick Boseman, Spike Lee, and Lady Gaga.
Yalitza Aparicio, Chadwick Boseman, Spike Lee, and Lady Gaga. Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Netflix, Marvel Entertainment, Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for the Critics’ Choice Awards, and Warner Bros.

While many complaints have been made about the Academy Awards in recent years, this year’s nominations include some historic firsts.

The first superhero movie nominated for Best Picture

Black Panther made history in many ways in 2018, but in 2019, the blockbuster became the first superhero movie to be nominated for Best Picture (unless you count Birdman, which we do not, given that it’s more of an anti-superhero movie). Its inclusion rights a wrong that began with the 2008 snub of The Dark Knight, which prompted the Academy to expand the Best Picture category beyond five nominees.


The first Mexican-born actresses to be nominated for awards at the same ceremony

While Mexican-born actresses have been nominated for Academy Awards in the past, this year marks the first time two Mexican-born actresses are represented in the same year, in both the lead and supporting categories: Yalitza Aparicio and Marina de Tavira, respectively. Aparicio’s nomination marks only the second time a Mexican-born actress has been nominated for Best Actress. The first was Salma Hayek for 2002’s Frida.


The first Latin American woman nominated for producing Best Picture

Roma has created the opportunity for many firsts. Not only is it historic for the actress categories, but Roma’s Best Picture nomination marks the first time a woman from any Latin American country has been nominated for the award. If it wins, producer Gabriela Rodriguez will accept the award alongside Alfonso Cuarón.


The first person to be nominated for Best Director, Best Cinematography, and Original Screenplay in the same year

Alfonso Cuarón has made history as the first person to be nominated for both directing and cinematography in the same year. The celebrated Mexican filmmaker also wrote the screenplay and directed the film, and edited it alongside film editor Adam Gough.

The first black person nominated for Best Production Design

Black Panther’s Hannah Beachler just became the first black person ever to be Oscar-nominated for Best Production Design. She was also Marvel’s first female production designer. Beachler’s other credits include Moonlight and Beyoncé’s Lemonade.

The first black person to be nominated for Best Costume Design three times


Ruth E. Carter is one of only two black people ever nominated in the category, and the first to be nominated three times, including this year for her work on Black Panther. Her first nomination was in 1992 for Malcolm X, one of her many films with frequent collaborator Spike Lee. The other was in 1997 for her work on Steven Spielberg’s Amistad.


The first Best Picture nomination for Netflix

In recent years, the streaming giant has had a good amount of success at the Oscars with their original productions, including Mudbound and Icarus in 2018. This year, Roma’s nomination for Best Picture marks the first time Netflix has been nominated in the category and the second time a streaming service has been nominated, the first being Amazon for Manchester by the Sea in 2017.


The first Oscar nomination for Hulu

Much like Netflix before it, Hulu nabbed its first nomination this year in the documentary category, for the Rust Belt skateboarding documentary Minding the Gap.

The first person to be nominated for both lead acting and Original Song

Lady Gaga’s first starring film role is shaping up to be a historic one. Not only is she nominated for Best Lead Actress, but she is also nominated for Best Original Song for “Shallow,” making her the first person ever to be nominated for lead acting and Original Song in the same year. Her historic nominations come only a year after Mary J. Blige made history when she was nominated for both Supporting Actress and Best Original Song for Mudbound.


The first Marvel film nominated for Best Animated Feature


Marvel Studios has another first with the nomination of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. The nomination not only marks the first time Marvel’s black Spider-Man, Miles Morales, has ever been depicted on the big screen, but it is also the first time a Marvel superhero film has been nominated in the category.

The first Best Director nomination for Spike Lee

Believe it or not, this is the first Best Director nomination for Spike Lee. (Lee was awarded an honorary Oscar in 2015; in 1990, Kim Basinger shamed the Academy from the Oscars stage for overlooking Do the Right Thing’s direction.) Only six black men have ever been nominated for the award, while no black women have been nominated in the category.*


The first time two directors of films in the Best Foreign Language Film category have been nominated for Best Director

The Best Director nominations for Roma’s Alfonso Cuarón and Cold War’s Paweł Pawlikowski mark the first time that two directors in the foreign language category have been nominated for Best Director in the same year.

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Correction, Jan. 22, 2019: This post originally misstated that six black men have won the Academy Award for Best Director. Six black men have been nominated for the award.