As we dive deeper into the awards season, many Focus films are receiving acclaim by ending up on “Best-of” lists and being nominated for year-end awards. Two movies in particular stood out when the Academy announced its nominees for the 91st Academy Awards last week. Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman was nominated for six Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director (Spike Lee), Best Supporting Actor (Adam Driver), Best Adapted Screenplay (Charlie Wachtel & David Rabinowitz and Kevin Willmott & Spike Lee), Best Original Score (Terence Blanchard), and Best Film Editing (Barry Alexander Brown). Josie Rourke’s Mary Queen of Scots earned two nominations for Costume Design (Alexandra Byrne) and Makeup and Hairstyling (Jenny Shircore, Marc Pilcher, and Jessica Brooks).
We extend our congratulations to all the nominees, many who generously shared their reactions to being nominated.
BlacKkKlansman celebrates its director
Sean McKittrick, Jason Blum, Raymond Mansfield, Jordan Peele, who were nominated for Best Picture as the film's producers, all pointed to their fellow producer, director Spike Lee, as a reason to celebrate the nomination. “More than 40 years later, this story of courage in the face of hatred is sadly still relevant today,” exclaimed McKittrick, Blum, Mansfield, and Peele in a joint statement. “Because of this, we knew from the very beginning that there was only one person who could helm this film: Spike Lee. It’s hard to believe this is the first time Spike’s brilliant work has been nominated for directing and best picture, but at this moment in our history, it seems fitting the spotlight is on Spike Lee.”
Adam Driver receives his first nomination
In BlacKkKlansman, Adam Driver plays Detective "Flip" Zimmerman, the white police officer who stands in for Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) during Klan meetings. After many notable roles in both blockbuster and independent films, Driver receives his first Academy Award® nomination for his outstanding work here. “It’s surreal to say the least,” exclaims Driver. “I’m so grateful to the crew, the cast, especially my friend John David Washington, and Spike for giving me the opportunity to be a part of a film that is equal parts joy and primal scream. Getting to work with people you admire and respect is a miracle in and of itself, but when it connects on a larger scale like this it’s hard to articulate.”
Terrence Blanchard gets his due
Terrence Blanchard, who has collaborated with Lee on 22 projects, has created some of the most iconic soundtracks of recent time. Surprisingly this is his first nomination for Original Score. “Today is a humbling moment in time for me,” Blanchard commented after hearing the news. “To be recognized by your peers with an Oscar nomination and to share that blessing with family and friends is moving beyond belief. I'm so grateful to my brother Spike Lee for having faith and giving me the chance to expand and grow as an artist.” Learn more about Blanchard’s work on BlacKkKlansman in our special interview with him.
The look of Mary Queen of Scots
The Academy recognized the remarkable craft of Mary Queen of Scots by nominating it both for Costume Design and Makeup and Hairstyling. Costume designer Alexandra Byrne, who now has been nominated five times and won an Oscar for Elizabeth: The Golden Age, thanked the Academy and added a gesture of appreciation to her fellow designers and colleagues: “I am thrilled to share this with Sandy, Mary and Ruth, and for the recognition it brings to my team for their talent and stamina!” Learn more about her unique concept and design for the film in our special interview with her.