Oscars Not So White: Barry Jenkins makes history with nominations

Last Updated Jan 27, 2017 4:52 PM EST

“Moonlight” director Barry Jenkins made history Tuesday morning by earning a very important trio of Oscar nominations

Prior to this year, no African-American filmmaker had been nominated for both Best Director and one of the screenplay titles -- in this case, Best Adapted Screenplay -- for the a film that was also nominated for Best Picture. (Jenkins was not a producer on “Moonlight,” so he is not listed in that category.)

“Moonlight” earned nods in all three of those categories -- and picked up eight nominations in total, including Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress, for this year’s Academy Awards.

There are more opportunities for Jenkins to make Oscar history, too. Should he walk away from the Academy Awards next month with the directing trophy, he would be the first black man to win in that category. 

Jenkins is only the fourth African-American man to be nominated for Best Director in the Academy’s history. No African-American woman has ever been nominated for Best Director.

Jenkins, who was in Amsterdam Tuesday, responded to the news on Twitter. “So much love, overwhelmed. Literally and figuratively,” he wrote. 

The Oscars also made history in the acting categories this year, with six nominations for African-American actors and actresses, including “Moonlight” star Mahershala Ali and Naomie Harris. The previous record was five, set in 2005 and matched in 2007. 

Viola Davis and Denzel Washington (“Fences”), Octavia Spencer (“Hidden Figures”) and Ruth Negga (“Loving”) were also nominated.

“2017 will go down as a historic year for black actors in film,” Fandango correspondent Chris Witherspoon told CBS News. “It’s remarkable to see the Academy voters embracing diversity like never before.” 

With “Lion” star Dev Patel also up for Best Supporting Actor, the 2017 nominations stand in stark contrast to 2016’s, which sparked the #OscarsSoWhite backlash.