AFTER two straight years of all-white acting nominees and an overhauling of the motion picture academy, the Oscars have moved in a different direction.
Barry Jenkin's luminous coming-of-age tale Moonlight, the African-American mathematician drama Hidden Figures and Denzel Washington's fiery Fences all received Academy Award nominations overnight.
Leading the Aussie charge was Nicole Kidman, nabbing a Best Supporting Actress nomination for her understated performance in the critically-acclaimed Lion. It was Kidman's fourth career nomination. (She won for The Hours in 2003.)
And Mel Gibson's return to Hollywood's good graces is complete with the Aussie scoring a Best Director nod for Hacksaw Ridge.
Gibson's Second World War drama was nominated for Best Picture and Best Actor (Andrew Garfield), while Aussies Andy Wright, Robert MacKenzie and Peter Grace were all nominated for their work in Sound Editing and Sound Mixing on the film.
Lion, the story of lost Indian boy separated from his family who is adopted by an Australian couple, also scored nods for Best Film, and nominations for Aussies Emile Sherman and Angie Fielder (Best Picture, producers) Luke Davies and Grieg Fraser (Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Cinematography) as well as Best Original Score for American Dustin O'Halloran.
Kidman, whose co-star Dev Patel also picked up a Best Supporting Actor nomination, said: "I want to thank the Academy for all of the acknowledgments you have given this heartfelt film. But, most importantly, I want to thank the Brierley family for putting themselves in such a vulnerable place and sharing their story with the world."
Australia also nabbed it's first ever nomination in the best foreign-language film race at the Oscars with Tanna, a Nauvhal-language film directed by Melburnians Bentley Dean and Martin Butler on the island of Vanuatu.
As expected, La La Land, Damien Chazelle's exuberant love letter to musicals, rode a wave of love with 14 nominations, tying the record previously set by All About Eve in 1951 and Titanic in 1991.
It has already set a Golden Globes record with seven wins.
Rounding out the Best Actor nominations were Casey Affleck for the bleak Manchester By The Sea, Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic) and Denzel Washington (Fences).
In the Best Actress category, Meryl Streep beat her own record with a 20th nomination (the most ever for any actress or actor) for her leading role as a tone-deaf opera singer in Florence Foster Jenkins.
Rounding out the category, along with Streep and Stone, was Isabelle Hupert (Elle), Ruth Negga (Loving), and Natalie Portman (Jackie).
There were a number of notable snubs and surprises. Aussie Joel Edgerton (Loving), Annette Bening (20th Century Women) Hugh Grant (Florence Foster Jenkins), Tom Hanks (Sully), and Amy Adams (Arrival) had been expected to pick up nods, but failed to get the call.
The Oscars will be broadcast on February 26.
Major 2017 Academy Award nominations
Hell or High Water
La La Land
Manchester By the Sea
Denis Villeneuve (Arrival)
Mel Gibson (Hacksaw Ridge)
Damien Chazelle (La La Land)
Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester by the Sea)
Barry Jenkins (Moonlight)
Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea)
Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge)
Ryan Gosling (La La Land)
Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic)
Denzel Washington (Fences)
Isabelle Huppert (Elle)
Ruth Negga (Loving)
Emma Stone (La La Land)
Natalie Portman (Jackie)
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)
Best Adapted Screenplay
Arrival (Eric Heisserer)
Fences (August Wilson)
Hidden Figures (Allison Schroeder, Theodore Melfi)
Lion (Luke Davies)
Moonlight (Barry Jenkins, Tarell Alvin McRaney)
Arrival (Bradford Young)
La La Land (Linus Sandgren)
Lion (Grieg Fraser)
Moonlight (James Laxton)
Silence (Rodrigo Prieto)
Best Foreign Language Film
Land of Mine, Denmark, Martin Zandvliet, director
A Man Called Ove, Sweden, Hannes Holm, director
The Salesman, Iran, Asghar Farhadi, director
Tanna, Australia, Bentley Dean, Martin Butler, directors
Toni Erdmann, Germany, Maren Ade, director