2017 Oscars nominee

Group photo of 2017 Oscars nominees
“Wow, what a difference a year makes.” Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences exuded clear satisfaction as she addressed attendees at the 89th Academy Awards luncheon Monday afternoon at the Beverly Hilton. Isaacs opened her remarks by recognizing this year’s far-more-inclusive ballot after the Academy was sharply criticized — or more aptly, publicly shamed — two years in a row for the infamous #OscarsSoWhite controversies. “Simply put, real progress has been made,” Isaacs said, crediting the Academy’s active role in expanding membership by recruiting 683 new voters.
You didn’t have to look any further than table 18 — our position at the Hilton’s International Ballroom — to see the difference. Seated to our left was Raoul Peck, the director of the acclaimed James Baldwin documentary I Am Not Your Negro, and one of four black filmmakers in the running for a Best Documentary Oscar. To our right was Moonlight editor Joi McMillon, who made history last month by becoming the first African-American woman nominated for Best Editing.
Both first-time nominees cheerfully recalled where they were the morning they found out they were Oscar nominees. For Peck, it was actually afternoon. He was in Germany wrapping up work on his next doc, Young Karl Max (a film that, like I Am Not Your Negro, he worked on for the past 10 years). “Somebody saw it on Twitter, but you can’t trust what you see on Twitter, so I didn’t believe it right away,” the director admitted. McMillon was in Utah for the Sundance Film Festival, where her second feature, the Brett Gelman-Michael Cera drama Lemon, was premiering. “I was going to go to a screening that morning but one of my producers was like, ‘You just got an Oscar nomination, we’re going out for drinks!'” McMillon laughed.

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