LOS ANGELES (NYTIMES) - Oscar voters showered the neo-musical La La Land with 14 nominations on Tuesday (Jan 24), a tie with Titanic and All About Eve for the most in Academy Award history.
But a diverse array of films, notably Moonlight, about a young black man in Miami, also picked up honors in multiple major races, moving the ceremony beyond two #OscarsSoWhite years.
Competing against La La Land and Moonlight for best picture will be Manchester By The Sea, Arrival, Lion, Fences, Hell Or High Water, Hidden Figures and Hacksaw Ridge, which also drew a nomination for its director, Mel Gibson, officially ending his 10-year status as a Hollywood pariah.
Filling out the directing field were Damien Chazelle (La La Land), Denis Villeneuve (Arrival), Barry Jenkins (Moonlight) and Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester By The Sea).
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced nominations for the 89th Academy Awards in two batches on Tuesday, the first group including mostly further-flung categories.
Among the major races unveiled, Ryan Gosling (La La Land), Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic) and Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge) will join Casey Affleck, who plays a handyman in Manchester By The Sea, and Denzel Washington, the lead in Fences, as nominees for best actor.
There were surprises.
Arrival, starring Amy Adams as a linguist tasked with communicating with aliens, emerged as one of the most-honored 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.
Joining her were Isabelle Huppert from the French film Elle, Emma Stone from La La Land, Natalie Portman from Jackie and Meryl Streep from Florence Foster Jenkins.
Supporting actor nominees will include Jeff Bridges from Hell Or High Water, Mahershala Ali from Moonlight, Dev Patel from Lion, Lucas Hedges from Manchester By The Sea and Michael Shannon from Nocturnal Animals.
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 read without an audience in a presentation broadcast on Oscars.com, Good Morning America and other platforms.
The favourite by far going in was La La Land, the show-business musical directed and written by Chazelle and starring Stone and Gosling.
La La Land collected a record seven prizes at the Golden Globes, and the film has the benefit of being about Hollywood’s favourite topic – itself. (Recent best picture winners with entertainment-industry backdrops have included The Artist and Birdman.)
The rules allow the best picture category to have as many as 10 or as few as five nominees, depending on how voters spread their support. (There were eight last year.)
Going into the morning, 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 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 scold 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$3 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.