BLACK VOICES
01/24/2017 12:29 pm ET Updated Feb 01, 2017

Cinematographer Bradford Young Makes History With Oscar Nomination

He is the first black American to be nominated in the Best Cinematography category.

Bradford Young earned an Academy Awards nomination on Tuesday for his work on “Arrival,” making him the first black American to be nominated for the Best Cinematography award.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the nominees for the 89th annual Oscar awards on Tuesday morning. “Arrival,” a science-fiction drama starring Amy Adams, was nominated for seven other awards, including Best Picture and Best Director.  

Young, 39, is the second black man to ever be nominated in the cinematography category. He follows in the footsteps of Britain’s Remi Adefarasin, who was nominated for “Elizabeth” in 1998.

Young’s history-making nomination comes amidst a more diverse field of nominees than usual, with films like “Fences,” “Hidden Figures” and Moonlight” vying for top awards. Viola Davis earned a Best Supporting Actress nomination for “Fences,” making her the first black woman to be nominated for an Oscar three times.

The Academy has faced serious criticism over the last couple of years for lacking diversity in its nominees and its voting members. Following the viral #OscarsSoWhite social media campaign, the Academy made a push to invite hundreds of new members. 

Young’s nomination follows years of making critically acclaimed work. He has won the cinematography award for U.S. dramatic feature at the Sundance Film Festival for three films: “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints” and “Mother of George” in 2013 and “Pariah” in 2011. He was the director of photography for Ava DuVernay’s celebrated film “Selma” and is working on the forthcoming “Star Wars” spinoff about Han Solo.

Young previously collaborated with DuVernay on “Middle of Nowhere.” In a 2012 New York Times interview about Young’s work on the movie, she described his visual style as “lush” and “full.”

“When I watch people of color in most films, the image is so often flat or partial,” DuVernay told the Times. “Nothing about what Bradford does is partial. Every frame is full-bodied and potent and robust. It’s so exciting because it’s so rare.”

Young is up against the cinematographers for “La La Land,” “Lion,” “Moonlight” and “Science” for the Oscar.

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