Moonlight, a coming-of-age drama about gay, African American men in Miami, has garnered eight Oscar nominations, including Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture. The critically acclaimed film stands a chance to become the first LGBTQ film to take the top prize at the Academy Awards.
This would be the second black-themed film to win Best Picture; 12 Years a Slave captured that honor in 2014. Hidden Figures and Fences were also nominated for Best Picture this year, joining the list of eight other black-themed films nominated for Best Picture in the Academy’s history. In addition to taking home Best Motion Picture—Drama award at the Golden Globes, Moonlight earned six NAACP Image Award nominations.
Its Oscar nom also makes Moonlight co-editor, Joi McMillon, the first African American woman to be recognized by the Academy for editing, and makes director Barry Jenkins the fourth African American to be nominated for best director. The three preceding African American nominees for the Best Director category were John Singleton, Lee Daniels, and Steve McQueen. Mahershala Ali (The Hunger Games, Hidden Figures, Luke Cage) also received a nomination for best supporting actor, while Naomie Harris (Pirates of the Caribbean, Skyfall, Southpaw) was nominated for Best Supporting Actress.
Black and Gay in America
Moonlight chronicles the life and self-discovery of a young man growing up in a rough neighborhood in Miami. As he struggles between childhood and adulthood, he also grapples with his sexuality and sexual identity, in a culturally hyper-masculine social environment. Based on the semi-autobiographical play by Tarell Alvin McCraney, In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue, the highly cinematic story told in three distinct acts, with three different actors playing the main character, is what earned Jenkins and McCraney the Best Adapted Screenplay nomination.
Moonlight received critical acclaim, and was among the big stories at the box office on its opening weekend. According to Box Office Mojo, Moonlight—released by the indie company A24, with executive producer Brad Pitt on the credits—scored an impressive $414,740 in just three days, with a $103,675 per-location average. To date, however, the film has a total domestic box office gross of $16 million.
Oscars So Black in 2017
Against the backdrop of a nationwide conversation about #OscarsSoWhite, a black actor has been nominated in every acting category: “Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Supporting Actress—in the same year, for the first time in Academy history,” reports Entertainment Tonight. Additionally, Ava DuVernay earned her first Oscar nomination for 13th, a documentary about the thirteenth amendment, after being snubbed for her work on Selma.
What’s more, for the first time, three films with black producers were nominated for Best Picture, including newcomer Kimberly Steward for Manchester by the Sea. In 2013, she formed K Period Media, a company that develops, finances, and produces film, television and digital projects. Steward is the daughter of David L. Steward, CEO and founder of World Wide Technology, which hold the No. 1 spot on the BE 100’s Industrial/Service list, with $7.5 billion in revenues for 2016.