LOS ANGELES • Oscar voters showered the neo-musical La La Land with 14 nominations yesterday - including picks for best picture, actor, actress and director - a tie with Titanic and All About Eve for the most in Academy Awards history.
In second place were science fiction movie Arrival and drama Moonlight, tied at eight nominations.
But a diverse array of films, notably Moonlight, about a young black man in Miami, also picked up honours, moving the ceremony beyond two #OscarsSoWhite years.
The academy has been criticised for failing to recognise movies featuring people of colour.
In the past year, the organisation changed its membership and voting rules to increase diversity in the mostly older, white male membership.
Nominees in main Oscar categories
•Hell Or High Water
•La La Land
•Manchester By The Sea
•Denis Villeneuve (Arrival)
•Mel Gibson (Hacksaw Ridge)
•Damien Chazelle (La La Land)
•Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester By The Sea)
•Barry Jenkins (Moonlight)
•Isabelle Huppert (Elle)
•Ruth Negga (Loving)
•Natalie Portman (Jackie)
•Emma Stone (La La Land)
•Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
•Viola Davis (Fences)
•Naomie Harris (Moonlight)
•Nicole Kidman (Lion)
•Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures)
•Michelle Williams (Manchester By The Sea)
•Casey Affleck (Manchester By The Sea)
•Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge)
•Ryan Gosling (La La Land)
•Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic)
•Denzel Washington (Fences)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
•Mahershala Ali (Moonlight)
•Jeff Bridges (Hell Or High Water)
•Lucas Hedges (Manchester By The Sea)
•Dev Patel (Lion)
•Michael Shannon (Nocturnal Animals)
•La La Land
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
•Kubo And The Two Strings
•My Life As A Zucchini
•The Red Turtle
BEST FOREIGN FILM
•A Man Called Ove (Sweden)
•Land Of Mine (Denmark)
•The Salesman (Iran)
•Toni Erdmann (Germany)
•La La Land - Audition
•La La Land - City of Stars
•Moana - How Far I'll Go
•Jim: The James Foley Story - The Empty Chair
•Trolls - Can't Stop The Feeling
This year's crop of quality films featuring minority actors, including the best picture nominees Fences, Hidden Figures and Moonlight, will give Oscar voters a chance to select more diverse winners.
Among others competing in the best picture category is Hacksaw Ridge, which also drew a nomination for its director Mel Gibson, officially ending his 10-year status as a Hollywood pariah.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced nominations for the 89th Academy Awards in two batches yesterday, the first group including mostly farther-flung categories.
There were surprises. Arrival, starring Amy Adams as a linguist tasked with communicating with aliens, emerged as one of the most honoured films, but Adams failed to receive a nod for best actress.
Instead, her slot likely went to newcomer Ruth Negga for her understated performance in Loving.
For the first time in memory, the academy did not unveil its nominations at a news conference attended by entertainment journalists.
Instead, reporters were bypassed - no chance for academy officials to be peppered with uncomfortable questions that way - and the nominations were read without an audience in a presentation broadcast on Oscars.com, morning television show Good Morning America and other platforms.
The favourite by far going in was show-business musical La La Land, which collected a record seven prizes at the Golden Globes, and the film has the benefit of being about Hollywood's favourite topic - itself.
Going into the announcement yesterday, many nominees were considered locks, the result of a dance that starts in the summer with studio strategists whispering into the ears of awards handicappers. As expected, two-time nominee Viola Davis was in the supporting actress category for playing a 1950s era homemaker in Fences.
Ditto Meryl Streep, who received her 20th nomination for playing the sweetly delusional lead character in Florence Foster Jenkins.
The academy entrusted its previous ceremony to producers Reginald Hudlin and David Hill, who brought in Chris Rock to chide Hollywood on diversity and created a cable news-style scrawl in an ill-advised attempt to make acceptance speeches more interesting.
Ratings dropped, and ABC, which broadcasts the ceremony and charges US$2 million (S$2.8 million) for a 30-second commercial, moved to take a firmer hand in this year's telecast.
Jimmy Kimmel, who anchors ABC's late-night programming block, was selected as host.
The Oscars will be broadcast on Feb 26.
NYTIMES, BLOOMBERG, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE