This year's Oscar slate spotlights diversity & firsts

Salute this year’s Oscars — the 95th edition is televised live Sunday on ABC — as a monument to a diverse group of new faces.

For the first time in Oscar history since 1934 ALL five Best Actors are first-time nominees: Colin Farrell, “The Banshees of Inisherin,” Brendan Fraser, “The Whale,” Austin Butler, “Elvis,” Bill Nighy, “Living” and Paul Mescal, “Aftersun.”

Also, of this year’s 20 acting nominees, 16 are first timers. Only Cate Blanchett with 8 nominations (and 2 wins), Michelle Williams (5), Angela Bassett (2) and Judd Hirsch (also 2), have previously been honored.Another first: All five Best Director nominees are also nominated for Best Screenplay: Steven Spielberg, “The Fabelmans,” Martin McDonagh, “Banshees,” Todd Field, “Tár,” Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” and Sweden’s Ruben Östlund, “Triangle of Sadness.”

Asian-Americans, habitually under-represented by the Academy, are spotlighted this year with nominees for Best Actress, Michelle Yeoh in “Everything,” Supporting Actresses Hong Chau “The Whale” and Stephanie Hsu, “Everything,” and “Everything” Supporting Actor Ke Huy Quan.

Best Actress nominee Ana de Armas is Cuban, while Angela Bassett, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” Best Supporting Actress nominee and Brian Tyree Henry, a Supporting Actor nominee for “Causeway,” are Black.

How to explain the formidable Irish contingent? Fully one-quarter of the acting nominees are Irish with 4 from “The Banshees of Inisherin” – Best Actor Colin Farrell, Best Supporting Actress Kerry Condon, Best Supporting Actors Brendan Gleeson and Barry Keough – plus Paul Mescal, a Best Actor nominee for “Aftersun.” Should we mention that, another first, an Irish language movie “The Quiet Girl” is nominated for Best International Feature?

This diversity is a result of the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite in 2016 when all 20 acting nominees were white. Now, the AMPAS’ – Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences – mantra is diversity. Their first step was to nearly double the voting membership to 10,000-plus. Of 10 Best Picture nominees there’s the German language antiwar remake “All Quiet on the Western Front” and “Women Talking,” a feminist drama inspired by real events in Bolivia.

One Oscar surprise – after two consecutive Best Director wins by women, no women are nominated this year.

Other notable Oscar facts:“Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio,” a Best Animated Feature nominee, follows the hallowed footsteps of Walt Disney’s Oscar-winning 1940 animated “Pinocchio.” That won Best Original Score and Best Song with “When You Wish Upon a Star.”

The del Toro “Pinocchio” is a Best Song nominee but that Oscar, in a true salute to diversity, is expected to be India’s entry “Naatu Naatu” from “RRR.”



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