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"BlacKkKlansman," "Roma" bring diversity, historic firsts to the Oscars

2019 Oscar nominations full of firsts

The nominations for the 2019 Academy Awards were filled with historic firsts and recognition of diverse films. While several people of color were nominated, most of the nominees for the acting categories are white.

Yalitza Aparicio received a best actress nomination for "Roma," becoming the second Mexican woman to receive such recognition. The first was Salma Hayek for the film "Frida" in 2003.

Only a handful of women of color have been nominated for best actress. Halle Berry famously became the first black woman to win a best actress award in 2002. She remains the only black woman to receive the honor. That same year, Denzel Washington became the second black man to win an Oscar for best actor.

Another nominee from "Roma" is Mexican actress Marina de Tavira, who is up for best supporting actress. Also in that category, Regina King, who is black, received her first Oscar nomination for her performance in "If Beale Street Could Talk."

For best actor, Rami Malek, who is Egyptian-American, was nominated for his portrayal of Freddie Mercury in "Bohemian Rhapsody." Mahershala Ali, who is black, was nominated for best supporting actor for his performance in "Green Book."

First best picture nomination for a streaming service

Netflix's "Roma" made history as the streaming service's first film to receive a best picture nomination. Director Alfonso Cuarón was also nominated for best director, best original screenplay and best cinematography. The Mexican director took home two Academy Awards in 2014 for "Gravity."

In all, the Netflix film received 10 nominations – tied with "The Favourite" for most nominations this year.

ROMA
Marco Graf, Daniela Demesa, Yalitza Aparicio, Marina De Tavira, Diego Cortina Autrey, and Carlos Peralta Jacobson in "Roma," written and directed by Alfonso Cuarón.  Carlos Somonte/Netflix

First best director nomination for Spike Lee

After directing for decades, Spike Lee received his first best director nomination. Lee has directed 30 feature films and has been nominated for best original screenplay and best documentary feature, but did not win. He has one honorary Academy Award and may take home his first best director award for "BlacKkKlansman."

Only five other black men have been nominated for best director. In 2016, "Moonlight" famously won best picture after an on-stage mix-up with "La La Land," but Barry Jenkins did not win for best director. In 2014, "12 Years A Slave" director Steve McQueen took home the award for best picture, but not best director.

Lee has a chance to take home the trophy for best director, best picture and best adapted screenplay for "BlacKkKlansman," which was nominated in three other categories. Lee famously boycotted the Oscars in 2016, joining Jada Pinkett Smith and the #OscarsSoWhite protest.

"BlacKkKlansman" Photocall - The 71st Annual Cannes Film Festival
Spike Lee attends the photocall for "BlacKkKlansman" during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Palais des Festivals on May 15, 2018 in Cannes, France. Tristan Fewings/Getty Images

First best picture nomination for a superhero film

"Black Panther" raked in seven nominations. The film is nominated for best picture – a first for a superhero film.

It also scored a nomination for best original song – "All the Stars" performed by Kendrick Lamar and SZA – and a nomination for best original score. The diverse cast, however, was snubbed in the acting categories. Some feel the film's star, Michael B. Jordan, deserved a best actor nomination, but he did not make the list.

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Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) and T'Challa/Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) in "Black Panther," the first superhero film to ever be nominated for an Academy Award. Matt Kennedy ©Marvel Studios 2018