Oscar nominations: Atlanta-filmed “Hidden Figures” is up for best picture

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Photo: 20th Century Fox


Atlanta-filmed “Hidden Figures” is up for a best-picture Academy Award and one of its stars, Octavia Spencer, picked up a best supporting actress nomination for her role in the movie, based on the book by Margot Lee Shetterly.

“Hidden Figures” also is up for best adapted screenplay. The full list of nominations is below.

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In a recent interview with the AJC, Atlanta recording artist and actress Janelle Monae recalled how thrilled she was with the script – but how unfamiliar she was with the story. The character she was reading for, Mary Jackson, was complex and compelling. A skilled mathematician and aerospace engineer, Jackson worked alongside her equally brilliant friends, Katherine Johnson and Dorothy Vaughan, who, like other African-American women in the 1960s, were employed in a segregated wing of NASA as the United States raced to catch up with the Soviet Union’s outer space ambitions.

“When I was reading the script, I was just excited that someone was portraying an African-American woman in a different light — not just a maid,” Monae said. She paused for a second and added, “I thought it was fiction.”

The movie is set in Hampton, Va., but was filmed in metro Atlanta, at locations including downtown Canton, East Point and the Morehouse College campus.

“Our family grew up in Hampton,” said Shetterly. “We knew a lot of the people in the community who worked at NASA. It was sort of no big deal. In Hampton, there is NASA, there are the shipyards, the military. It was just kind of a normal thing that a lot of those people were African-American, and a lot were women, and some were both.”

Shetterly studied finance at the University of Virginia and worked on Wall Street for a while before transitioning to various internet media projects. She and her husband were living in Mexico, where they ran an English language magazine, when the idea for the book blossomed during a trip back home several years ago. Talk turned to the “computers,” as the women were known back then, whose meticulous calculations were vital in sending astronaut John Glenn, who died in early December at age 95, into orbit.

“How did I not know about this?” Shetterly recalled wondering. “My mom was like, ‘Hey, let’s call up Katherine Johnson and go over to her house.’ That’s where I heard the name Dorothy Vaughan. (Johnson) said she was the smartest person she ever met. I was like, I need to check out this Dorothy Vaughan, whose name I’d never heard.”

The book and movie projects took off at a joint gallop ending with today’s Oscar nomination (and perhaps a trophy next month? Stay tuned).

Other Atlanta connections in this year’s crop of nominees: “Sully,” the movie about heroic pilot Sully Sullenberger starring Tom Hanks and directed by Clint Eastwood, was nominated for sound editing; and “Passengers,” the sci-fi romance with Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt, was nominated for production design and best original score.

This year’s slate of nominees is far more diverse than the past two years’ when #OscarsSoWhite trended to reflect the all-white actor/actress nominations. Viola Davis earned a best supporting actress nomination for “Fences” (she won a Golden Globe in the same category) and Naomie Harris picked up the same nomination for “Moonlight.” Mahershala Ali and Dev Patel each picked up a supporting actor nod – for “Moonlight” and “Lion” –  and Denzel Washington earned a best actor nomination for “Fences.” Ruth Negga earned a best actress nod for “Loving.” “Moonlight” director Barry Jenkins was nominated for best director.

And “Fences” and “Moonlight,” which like “Hidden Figures” stars mostly African American casts, are also up for best picture.

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More than 600 new voting members, many of them artists of color, were added to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences’ roster after last year’s repeat of an all-white slate of actor/actress nominations.

“We’re proud to welcome these new members to the Academy, and know they view this as an opportunity and not just an invitation, a mission and not just a membership,” said Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs at the time. “This class continues our long-term commitment to welcoming extraordinary talent reflective of those working in film today. We encourage the larger creative community to open its doors wider, and create opportunities for anyone interested in working in this incredible and storied industry.”

New members include Ice Cube, whose “Straight Outta Compton” was among the projects and casts seen as snubbed in the past; Tessa Thompson and her “Creed” co-star Michael B. Jordan (Sylvester Stallone won a best-supporting Golden Globe and was nominated for an Oscar for his role in “Creed”); Chadwick Boseman, who portrayed James Brown in “Get On Up” and is now filming “Blank Panther” in Atlanta; Vivica A. Fox, Gabrielle Union, whose BET series “Being Mary Jane” films in Atlanta; Anika Noni Rose, Damon Wayans, Jr., “Moonlight” star Mahershala Ali, Anthony Anderson, Loretta Devine and John Boyega.

FULL LIST OF 2017 NOMINATIONS

Best Picture

“Arrival”

“Fences”

“Hacksaw Ridge”

“Hidden Figures”

“La La Land”

“Lion”

“Manchester By The Sea”

“Moonlight”

Best Actor

Casey Affleck, “Manchester By The Sea”

Andrew Garfield, “Hacksaw Ridge”

Ryan Gosling, “La La Land”

Viggo Mortensen, “Captain Fantastic”

Denzel Washington, “Fences”

Best Actress

Isabelle Huppert, “Elle”

Ruth Negga, “Loving”

Natalie Portman, “Jackie”

Emma Stone, “La La Land”

Meryl Streep, “Florence Foster Jenkins”

Best Supporting Actor

Mahershala Ali, “Moonlight”

Jeff Bridges, “Hell Or High Water”

Lucas Hedges, “Manchester By The Sea”

Dev Patel, “Lion”

Michael Shannon, “Nocturnal Animals”

Best Supporting Actress

Viola Davis, “Fences”

Naomie Harris, “Moonlight”

Nicole Kidman, “Lion”

Octavia Spencer, “Hidden Figures”

Michelle Williams, “Manchester By The Sea”

Directing

Denis Villeneuve, “Arrival”

Mel Gibson, “Hacksaw Ridge”

Damien Chazelle, “La La Land”

Kenneth Lonergan, “Manchester By The Sea”

Barry Jenkins, “Moonlight”

Film Editing

“Arrival”

“Hacksaw Ridge”

“Hell Or High Water”

“La La Land”

“Moonlight”

Foreign Language Film

“Land Of Mine”

“A Man Called Ove”

“The Salesman”

“Tanna”

“Toni Erdmannn”

Original Score

“Jackie”

“La La Land”

“Lion”

“Moonlight”

“Passenger”

Production Design

“Arrival”

“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”

“Hail, Caesar”

“La La Land”

“Passengers”

Visual Effects

“Deepwater Horizon”

“Doctor Strange”

“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”

“The Jungle Book”

“Kubo And The Two Strings”

Adapted Screenplay

“Arrival”

“Fences”

“Hidden Figures”

“Lion”

“Moonlight”

Original Screenplay

“Hell Or High Water”

“La La Land”

“The Lobster”

“Manchester By The Sea”

“20th Century Women”

Animated Feature Film

“Kubo and the Two Strings,”  Travis Knight and Arianne Sutner

“Moana,” John Musker, Ron Clements and Osnat Shurer

“My Life as a Zucchini,” Claude Barras and Max Karli

“The Red Turtle,” Michael Dudok de Wit and Toshio Suzuki

“Zootopia,” Byron Howard, Rich Moore and Clark Spencer

Cinematography

“Arrival,” Bradford Young

“La La Land,” Linus Sandgren

“Lion,” Greig Fraser

“Moonlight,” James Laxton

“Silence,” Rodrigo Prieto

Costume Design

“Allied,” Joanna Johnston

“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” Colleen Atwood

“Florence Foster Jenkins,” Consolata Boyle

“Jackie,” Madeline Fontaine

“La La Land,” Mary Zophres

Documentary Feature

“Fire at Sea,” Gianfranco Rosi and Donatella Palermo

“I am not your Negro,” Raoul Peck, Rémi Grellety and Hébert Peck

“Life, Animated,” Roger Ross Williams and Julie Goldman

“O.J.: Made in America,” Ezra Edelman and Caroline Waterlow

“13th,” Ava DuVernay, Spencer Averick and Howard Barish

Documentary Short Subject

“Extremis”

“4.1 Miles”

“Joe’s Violin”

“Watani: My Homeland”

“The White Helmets”

Makeup and Hairstyling

“A Man Called Ove”

“Star Trek Beyond”

“Suicide Squad”

Original Song

“Audition,” “La La Land”

“Can’t Stop The Feeling,” “Trolls”

“City Of Stars,” “La La Land”

“The Empty Chair,” “Jim: The James Foley Story”

“How Far I’ll Go,” “Moana”

Animated Short Film

“Blind Vaysha”

“Borrowed Time”

“Pear Cider And Cigarettes”

“Pearl”

“Piper”

Live Action Short Film

“Ennemis Interieurs”

“La Femme et le TGV”

“Silent Nights”

“Sing”

“Timecode”

Sound Editing

“Arrival”

“Deepwater Horizon”

“Hacksaw Ridge”

“La La Land”

“Sully”

Sound Mixing

“Arrival”

“Hacksaw”

“La La Land”

“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”

“13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi”


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