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LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 18, 2015: Two wooden stand-in Oscar statuettes are ready to be taken on

Source: Al Seib / Getty

@kwellscomm @PraiseIndy PraiseIndy.com Entertainment News  —

Tinseltown’s most luxurious award night is fast approaching. The 89th Academy Awards will be presented on Sunday night. “La La Land” is the break-out leader with a record 14 nominations, including Best Picture. Other films vying for the coveted award are “Moonlight,” “Lion,” “Hidden Figures,” “Arrival,” “Hell or High Water,” “Manchester by the Sea,” “Fences,” and “Hacksaw Ridge.”

2016 Toronto International Film Festival - 'The Magnificent Seven' Premiere - Red Carpet

Denzel Washington  “Fences”  Source:  George Pimentel / Getty

26th Annual Gotham Independent Film Awards

Ruth Negga  “Loving” Source: Jim Spellman / Getty

In the coveted Lead Actor category, nominees include: Casey Affleck for “Manchester by the Sea,” Ryan Gosling for “La La Land,” Denzel Washington for “Fences,” Andrew Garfield for “Hacksaw Ridge” and Viggo Mortensen in “Captain Fantastic.” The nominees for the coveted Lead Actress category include: Emma Stone for “La La Land,” Natalie Portman for “Jackie,” Isabelle Huppert for “Elle,” Ruth Negga for “Loving” and Meryl Streep for “Florence Foster Jenkins.” Streep is the first star to be nominated for 20 Oscars in her career. Washington and Negga are black actors.

After last year’s #OscarsSoWhite controversy where the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences received a lot of criticism noting the lack of diversity in their awards and who they chose to recognize through the nomination process for achievement, the awards have made strides in several areas–they diversified those who became voting members and in something more obvious the films and actors receiving nominations are more diverse.

2016 Critics Choice Awards - Portraits

Moonlight cast Source: Robby Klein / Getty

Hidden Figures

Source: Hidden Figures cast / Hidden Figures

"Fences"

Denzel Washington & Viola Davis in “Fences”  Source: Courtesy: Paramount Pictures / Courtesy: Paramount Pictures

For example three of the Best Picture films have diverse casts and tell stories of the diverse black experience in America. Those films, previously mentioned are “Moonlight,” “Hidden Figures,” and “Fences.” In the Best Supporting Actor category two men of color Mahershala Ali for “Moonlight” and Dev Patel for “Lion” are nominated in the field with their peers that include Michael Shannon for “Nocturnal Animals,” Jeff Bridges for “Hell or High Water,” and Lucas Hedges for “Manchester by the Sea.” Even more diverse is the category for Best Supporting Actress where three black women are nominees Naomie Harris for “Moonlight,” Viola Davis for “Fences,” and Octavia Spencer for “Hidden Figures” along with their peers Michelle Williams for “Manchester by the Sea” and Nicole Kidman for “Lion.”

The diversity continues as well in the Best Documentary Feature category where three films featuring African-Americans or themes that directly impact African Americans are vying for a golden statuette for it’s black director(s). They are “I Am Not Your Negro” by *Raoul Peck, *Hébert Peck, and Rémi Grellety; “O.J.: Made in America” by *Ezra Edelman and Caroline Waterlow; “Life, Animated” by *Roger Ross Williams and Julie Goldman; and “13th” by *Ava DuVernay, Spencer Averick, and Howard Barish. These documentaries are nominated along with another contender “Fire at Sea” by Gianfranco Rosi and Donatella Palermo.

Kobe Up Close Hosted By Jimmy Kimmel

Jimmy Kimmel  Source: Allen Berezovsky / Getty

Late night host and comedian, Jimmy Kimmel, hosts the Oscars telecast this Sunday, February 26 on ABC. Festivities begin on-air at 5 p.m. with “On the Red Carpet at the Oscars,” at 6 p.m. the “Oscars Opening Ceremony: Live From the Red Carpet” begins and Kimmel takes over at 7:30 p.m. live from Los Angeles’ Dolby Theatre. All times are Eastern.

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