Could it be a zero sum gain at the Oscars this year for diversity? The answer is probably not. If you think that a record breaking number of blacks nominated for an Oscar this year will equal a record breaking number of wins then you are correct. The most wins in a single year at the Oscars for blacks is three. There is a strong possibility that record will be doubled this year with six wins for blacks.

It still is really unbelievable that a record 18 blacks got nominated this year. Just two years ago the hash tag #Oscarssowhite was created to protest The Academy’s lack of diversity with its Oscar nominations and voting membership.

The Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs, who is black, recently took steps by including more people of color into The Academy’s membership. But that small increase, at least percentage wise, had nothing to do with this year’s surge in nominations. Neither did initiatives movie studios said they would put in place to help more filmmakers with diverse backgrounds. Which by the way hasn’t really happened yet. The movies released in 2016 were already in development before any of this could take effect.

Cheryl Boone Isaacs president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Indeed the nominations for the 89th Academy Awards were historical. All due to the fact that some really good movies about the black experience were released in 2016. Movies like “Moonlight,” “Fences,” “Loving” and “Hidden Figures” were some of the best movies of the year critically and at the box office. It would have been really hard to ignore there presence.

The most blacks ever nominated for an Academy Award in a single year had been seven. It happened in 2004 and again in 2013. This year was also the first time in history that a black person was nominated in each of the four acting categories. Four out of five of the documentaries nominated were directed by someone black. The first black woman ever was nominated for editing. The second black person was nominated for cinematography. It was also the first year two blacks were nominated in the same year for writing.

The behind the scene nominations are perhaps most important. Especially the three producers nominated for Best Pictures. The issue of diversity will be an after thought as long as blacks continually produce and finance their own stories. 

How did this record Year happen? Well first this didn’t happen because of a mandatory quota system or some affirmative action mandate. There were simply a lot of good movies released in 2016. This can not be said enough.

Will this trend continue? That’s a difficult question to assess. But with 2016 now set in the history books, it will always be marked as an example of what should be the norm.



1. Kimberly Stewart “Manchester by the Sea”
2. Pharrell Williams “Hidden Figures”
3. Denzel Washington “Fences”


4. Barry Jenkins “Moonlight”


5. Denzel Washington “Fences”

Denzel Washington has a strong chance of winning his third Oscar for his performance in “Fences.”


6. Ruth Negga “Loving”


7. Mahershala Ali “Moonlight”

Mahershala Ali will win an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in “Moonlight.”


8. Viola Davis “Fences”
9. Naomie Harris “Moonlight”

10. Octavia Spencer “Hidden Figures”

Viola Davis will win an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in “Fences.”


11. Joi McMillon “Moonlight”


12. Bradford Young “Arrival”


13. Raoul Peck “I am Not Your Negro”

14. Ezra Edelman “O.J. Made in America”

15. Ava DuVernay “13TH”

16. Roger Ross Williams “Life, Animated”

Ezra Edelman director of “O.J.: Made In America” will win an Oscar for Best documentary


17. August Wilson “Fences”

18. Barry Jenkins and  Tarell Alvin McCraney “Moonlight”

Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraneywill win an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for “Moonlight.”


17. August Wilson “Fences”

18. Barry Jenkins and  Tarell Alvin McCraney “Moonlight”