Saturday, March 2, 2024

Celebrating The 2024 Oscar-Nominated Black Artists Behind The Camera For Black History Month

Black History Month is underway, and with the Oscars airing on March 10th, most of the focus tends to be paid toward the nominated actors. It makes sense. They’re the most visible people for the common person to recognize. The performances of Da’vine Joy Randolph, Danielle Brooks, Sterling K. Brown, Colman Domingo, and Jeffery Wright all deserve their nominations, all of them first-time Oscar Nominees. Jeffery Wright and Sterling K. Brown made history as the first Black Lead and Supporting Actor nominated for the same film, “American Fiction.” And Colman Domingo is only the second openly gay man to earn an Oscar nomination for playing a gay character in “Rustin.” While we deserve to celebrate these achievements, let’s not forget the nominees who work tirelessly behind the scenes and may not get the same level of recognition. While celebrating Black History Month, let’s take a moment to celebrate the wonderful, talented Black artists who are Oscar-nominated in other categories.

Cord Jefferson (“American Fiction”) – Best Adapted Screenplay & Best PictureJefferson has worked primarily on television, writing for shows such as “The Nightly Show with Larry Willmore,” Netflix’s “Master of None,” and “The Good Place.” He won an Emmy Award for writing the “Watchman” episode “This Extraordinary being.” He also worked as a consultant for the hit show “Succession.” He made his directorial debut with “American Fiction” and is up for a DGA Award for Best First-time Director. He will be producing a comedy set to come out later this year.

Andrew Roberts (“The Creator”) – Best Visual EffectsWith over 25 years of experience, Roberts has worked in film, television, and commercials. His credits include “Black Panther,” “Godzilla vs. Kong,” and current Best Picture nominee, “Killers of the Flower Moon.” In television, he’s received Emmy awards for his contributions to Super Bowl 36 and Super Bowl 39 specials. His visual effects work on “The Creator” marks his first Oscar nomination. His next project will be working as the Visual Effects Supervisor in the upcoming film “Rez Ball,” which is in post-production.

Willie D. Burton (“Oppenheimer”) – Best SoundWith a career spanning five decades, Burton is one of five African-Americans who have won two Oscars. The other four are sound mixer Russell Williams II, costume designer Ruth E. Carter, and actors Marhershala Ali and Denzel Washington. His first big break was working with Sidney Potier in “Let’s Do It Again.” His work on “Oppenheimer” marks his eighth nomination, tying Denzel Washington with the most nominations by an African American. His upcoming projects include “Captain American: Brave New World” and “Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F.”

Misan Harriman (“The After”) – Best Live-Action Short FilmHarriman has mostly worked in photography, which includes taking photographs of Rihanna, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, and Tom Cruise. He is the first Black man to shoot a cover for British Vogue magazine in its 104-year history. “The After” represents his first Oscar nomination.

Jon Batiste (“American Symphony”) – Best Original SongAmerican SymphonyBatiste has worked as a singer, songwriter, bandleader, and composer. He’s worked with artists such as Stevie Wonder, Ed Sheeran, Willie Nelson, Lenny Kravitz, and Lana Del Ray. Currently, he performs on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” with his band, Stay Human, comprised of New York City’s most creative young musicians. He has previously won an Oscar for Best Original Score for the Pixar animated film “Soul.” Writing the original song “It Never Went Away” for “American Symphony” is his second Oscar nomination.

Kris Bowers (“The Last Repair Shop”) – Best Documentary Short FilmBowers has worked mainly as a composer and pianist. His work includes scoring for films such as “The Color Purple,” “King Richard,” and “Green Book.” He has also worked in television, which includes “Bridgerton,” “Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story,” and Marvel’s “Secret Invasion.” He previously won an Emmy for music for the short film “A Snowy Day.” He has most recently worked on “Bob Marley: One Love,” which comes to theaters on February 14th.

Christine Turner (“The Barber Of Little Rock”) – Best Documentary Short FilmTurner has directed short films that deal with social landscapes dealing with Black communities. “The Barber of Little Rock” is her first Oscar nomination. She has previously won an NAACP Image award for her short film “Lynching Postcards: Token of a Great Day” and has also worked on the series “The 1619 Project” and “Art in the 21st Century.”

Moses Bwayo (“Bobi Wine: The People’s President”) – Best Documentary Feature FilmBobi WineBwayo makes his directorial debut with this harrowing documentary about activist and musical star Bobi Wine. A Uganda native, he has worked as a sound recordist and cinematographer for ABC, BBC, and VICE news. He started his own production company in 2016, Jajja Productions, where he oversees commercial, documentary, and feature film work. “Bobi Wine: The People’s President” is Bwayo’s first Oscar nomination.

Kemp Powers (“Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse”) – Best Animated Feature FilmSPIDER-MAN: ACROSS THE SPIDER-VERSEAs a writer and director, Powers has worked on “Soul,” “One Night in Miami,” and the television series “Star Trek: Discovery.” He wrote “One Night in Miami” as a play in 2013, and then Regina King adapted it for a feature film, which Powers received an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay in 2020. In March 2023, he premiered his play “The XIXth,” the story behind the two Black sprinters who raised their fists during the 1968 Summer Olympics. He is currently working as a co-director on the follow-up film to his second Oscar nomination for “Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse” with “Spider-Man: Beyond The Spider-Verse.”

Jermaine Johnson (“American Fiction”) – Best PictureA first-time Oscar nominee, Jermaine Johnson has worked alongside writer Cord Jefferson to produce the film, “American Fiction.” He won the Black Reel Award for Best Film for “American Fiction” and is also up for the Independent Spirit Award for producing the film. He is currently producing a television series, “Waiting To Exhale,” based on the movie.

Who are some of your favorite Black creatives working behind the camera today? Do you think any of these Oscar nominees will win at the Academy Awards next month? Please let us know in the comments section below or on Next Best Picture’s Twitter account. Also, please check out their latest Oscar winner predictions here and the 2023 precursor awards tally here.

You can follow Monique and hear more of his thoughts on the Oscars & Film on Twitter at @MoCJones

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