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2017 Oscar Nominees Celebrate Music and Diversity

Oscar nominated 'La La Land' and 'Fences'

Courtesy Lionsgate, Courtesy Paramount Pictures

Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling in “La La Land”, and Denzel Washington and Viola Davis in “Fences”

Damien Chazelle’s romantic musical, La La Land, staring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone as two struggling artists living in Los Angeles earned 14 nominations for the 2017 Academy Awards. That’s the biggest Academy Awards nomination earnings yet, tying with Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s All About Eve (1950) and James Cameron’s Titanic (1997).

La La Land also won Best Comedy/Musical for AARP’s Movies for Grownups Awards in 2016. Yesterday’s announcement of the 2017 Oscar nominees revealed some other overlapping films with AARP’s 16th annual Movies for Grownups Awards, such as Denzel Washington’s film adaption of August Wilson’s play Fences, which earned four Oscar nominations and Washington the Best Actor and Viola Davis the Best Supporting Actress Movies for Grownups Awards; Kenneth Lonergan’s tale of paralyzing grief and possible redemption, Manchester by the Sea, which garnered six nominations and Movies for Grownups’ Best Director and Best Screenwriter trophies; and Jeff Nichols’ poignant Loving, which tells the story of a pioneering Virginian interracial couple who fought the Supreme Court to legitimize their marriage and which netted Ruth Negga an Oscar nomination for Best Actress and won AARP’s Best Picture award.

After the Oscars withstood two consecutive years of criticism over racial diversity, 2017’s nominees include Fences, Theodore Melfi’s Hidden Figures and Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight — all of which featured prominently African-American casts — vying for Best Picture. And Ava DuVernay’s 13th, Raoul Peck’s I Am Not Your Negro and Ezra Edelman’s OJ: Made in America — all of which contain African-American subjects ­­— are among the Oscar nominees for Best Documentary, along with Gianfranco Rosi’s Fire at Sea, which chronicles the struggles of African and Middle Eastern refugees trying to reinvent their lives in Europe. Also noteworthy is the fact that English-Indian actor Dev Patel, who starred in Garth Davis’ Lion (also a Movies for Grownups winner), is among the Best Supporting Actor nominees.     

As noted by AARP CEO JoAnn Jenkins at a movie industry roundtable discussion hosted by Variety, ageism is another diversity issue that Hollywood needs to consider more. “The truth is that 70 percent of the disposable income in this country is in the possession of people 50 and older,” Jenkins said. “And 25 percent of people who are moviegoers are people over the age of 50. They are actually putting butts in the seats in the movie theaters. Yet we see across the board that the marketing industry is spending 75 to 80 percent of their dollars focusing on people who are under the age of 30, and mostly young males.”

Perhaps heeding to Jenkins’ argument, this year the Academy’s Oscar nominees also include a significant number of people over 50, including Mel Gibson, for directing Hacksaw Ridge; Jeff Bridges, for Best Supporting Actor in Hell or High Water; Viggo Mortensen, for Best Actor in a Leading Role in Matt Ross’ Captain Fantastic; and Meryl Streep and Isabelle Huppert, for Best Actress in a Leading Role in Stephen Frears’ Florence Foster Jenkins and Elle, respectively.

AARP’s 16th annual Movies for Grownups Awards ceremony will be held Feb. 6 in Los Angeles. Margo Martindale will host the event, and Morgan Freeman will receive this year’s Lifetime Achievement honor. There’s still time to vote for AARP’s Reader’s Choice Award. Click here to tell us your favorite movie.