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12 surprising records and milestones from the 2018 Oscar nominations

The Oscars used to feel predictable — but this year, it seems like all bets are off.

Christopher Plummer, Jordan Peele, and Greta Gerwig
Christopher Plummer, Jordan Peele, and Greta Gerwig were all nominated for Oscars.
Michael Tran; Getty Images; STX Entertainment
Alissa Wilkinson covers film and culture for Vox. Alissa is a member of the New York Film Critics Circle and the National Society of Film Critics.

The Oscars used to feel predictable — but this year, it seems like all bets are off. Every time a new round of nominations is announced, there are a few surprises. But 2018 may be one of the most surprising on record.

There are a few reasons for this, but one is simply that the business of Hollywood is changing. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which hands out the awards, is composed of people who work or have recently worked in the film industry, and as of 2014, the makeup of the group was fairly monolithic: 94 percent white, 76 percent male, and an average age of 63.

But the Academy has been actively working to diversify its membership in a way that would better reflect the people who work in the industry and movie audiences, rather than skewing to the tastes of older white men. And that’s meant that some fresh picks have snuck onto the once-predictable lists of nominations and eventual winners (including Moonlight’s big win last year and Spotlight’s the year before).

Even by those standards, though, the 2018 nominations are rife with records and milestones. Here are the 11 most notable examples:

  • Mudbound’s Rachel Morrison became the first woman cinematographer ever to be nominated for an Oscar.
  • Mudbound also earned a Best Adapted Screenplay nod for Dee Rees, who directed the film as well. She became the second black woman to be nominated by the Academy for screenwriting, after Suzanne de Passe for Lady Sings the Blues in 1972.
  • Mudbound’s Mary J. Blige became the first person ever to be nominated for both a performance and an original song in the same year.
  • Christopher Nolan picked up his first Best Director nomination for Dunkirk.
  • Get Out’s Jordan Peele became the first black filmmaker ever nominated for directing, writing, and producing in the same year. He’s also only the fifth black person to be nominated for Best Director.
  • Get Out became the first February release to be nominated for an Oscar since The Silence of the Lambs in 1991.
  • Lady Bird’s Greta Gerwig picked up several nominations, most notably Best Director, for which she became only the fifth woman to be nominated in that category.
  • All the Money in the World’s Christopher Plummer, who was hastily swapped in for Kevin Spacey mere weeks before the film premiered in December, became the oldest nominee for acting in the Academy’s history at age 88.
  • And at 22, Call Me by Your Name’s Timothée Chalamet became the youngest Best Actor nominee in nearly 80 years.
  • Logan scored a nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay, becoming the first live-action superhero film to do so in the Academy’s history (even The Dark Knight didn’t pull off that honor).
  • Octavia Spencer is now tied with Viola Davis as the most nominated black actress of all time. She’s also the only black actress to be nominated again following an Oscar win: After winning for The Help in 2012, she was nominated for Hidden Figures last year, and for The Shape of Water this year.
  • Yance Ford is the now first transgender director ever to be nominated, with a nod in the Best Documentary category for Strong Island.

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