My thanks to the Academy for amplifying the injustices of mass criminalization and mass incarceration that we chronicle in '13th.' Now more than ever, it is important to educate ourselves, explore our shared history and elevate our awareness about matters of human dignity.
Ava DuVernay, Oscar nominee for her documentary "13th"
Five years ago, Disney veterans Byron Howard (“Bolt,” “Tangled”) and Rich Moore (“Wreck-It Ralph”) were heartened when their bosses lent support to “Zootopia,” about an enthusiastic female rabbit who dreams of becoming a police officer, defying the odds and prejudices of a socially divided animal kingdom.
“When you say you want to make an animated movie about bias, it doesn’t sound like something that’s going to make a lot of money or be very popular,” said "Zootopia" director Howard with a laugh on the phone from his home in Glendale, near Disney’s headquarters. “But support came from [Disney Chief Executive] Bob Iger and [Disney Chairman] Alan Horn and everyone at the studio, I think, because they saw that the world needed it.”
The urgency of “Zootopia’”s underlying exploration of racial, class, and gender bias within systems of power – led by a chipper bunny rabbit named Judy Hopps, voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin – crystallized even more as the Black Lives Matter movement dominated headlines, sparked by the killings of black American men at the hands of police officers across the country.
Bill Mechanic has had many Hollywood lives. He's the former chairman and chief executive of 20th Century Fox Filmed Entertainment, he oversaw the video release of "Fantasia" and other animated classics for Disney, he co-produced "Coraline" (2005) and Terrence Malick's "The New World" (2005), and in 2010 he co-produced the Academy Awards show.
Certainly during Mechanic's tenure as head of Fox, the studio was nominated for and won many Oscars -- he was in charge when "Titanic" won 11 Academy Awards, tying with "Ben-Hur" and "The Lord of the Rings" for the record for most wins. Now, however, with the nomination of Mel Gibson's "Hacksaw Ridge" for a best picture Oscar, he could win an Academy Award of his own as one of the film's co-producers.
Shortly after the nominations were announced on Tuesday, we reached Mechanic, who described his morning watching the academy's livestream:
"When Andrew [Garfield] got in -- and I think it would have been a crime if he didn't -- I thought maybe things would be OK. You don't know," he said. "This was definitely a film that had to overcome a lot of stuff to get in. Only by the quality of the movie being so strong did the love overcome the hate."
This year's diversity in Oscar nominations extended beyond actors and filmmakers to media platforms. Amazon, ESPN and Google are not names one normally associates with the Academy Awards but they may find themselves being thanked from the podium this year, and not just for gift cards in presenter swag bags.
Amazon dropped $10 million at Sundance last year for distribution rights to "Manchester by the Sea," an investment that certainly paid off -- on Tuesday, Amazon became the first streaming service ever to produce a film nominated for best picture.
Netflix, which tried to break through last year with "Beasts of No Nation," once again had a documentary nomination in Ava DuVernay's "13th," but "Manchester's" six nominations -- best picture, actor (Casey Affleck, who won the Golden Globe), actress (Michelle Williams), supporting actor (Lucas Hedges), director and original screenplay (Kenneth Lonergan) -- mark streaming's first foray into features.
Garnering critical acclaim for her work in both Paul Verhoeven's "Elle" and Mia Hansen-Løve's "Things to Come," 2016 was already a banner year for French actress Isabelle Huppert.
After earning her first Academy Award nomination for her performance in Verhoeven's film about a woman's complicated journey post-assault, Huppert spoke to The Times about what gives her nomination for "Elle" special resonance and what lies ahead in her storied career.
Where were you when you learned about your nomination?
Andrew Garfield has been busy this past year, delivering performances in two of the year's best movies, "Silence" and "Hacksaw Ridge." The critical acclaim of his turn in the Mel Gibson-directed picture nabbed him an Oscar nomination Tuesday morning for best actor.
Shortly after the announcement, Garfield spoke with The Times from London about the recognition:
If you're both an avid reader and a committed movie buff, you can pass the time before the 89th Academy Awards ceremony on Feb. 26 by dipping into the sources of the adapted screenplay nominees. But you won’t be reading any novels.
Two nonfiction books, two plays and one short story inspired the Oscar nominees for Adapted Screenplay: “Arrival,” “Fences,” “Hidden Figures,” “Lion” and “Moonlight.”
For the first time since 2013, none of the nominated screenplays this year is based on a novel. Here’s more about each of the nominees.
"Arrival" producer, Shawn Levy called in from the Upside Down while directing on the set of Netflix's "Stranger Things" to talk about the, ahem, arrival of the movie's many Oscar nominations.
This is a big day for “Arrival.” Did you see it coming?
It’s a good day! Given the ride we’ve been on since our festival premieres in the fall, we certainly hoped that it might all lead to a day like today. It was never something we contemplated over the past five years that it took to get this movie made, but seeing the reaction to our film, both commercially and critically, it definitely stoked the flames of hope. And today has us over the moon happy.