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Mayes C. Rubeo, Sandy Powell Lead Below-the-Line Surge in Women Oscar Noms

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences was quick to point out on Jan. 13 as the Oscar nominations were announced, that “A record 62 women were nominated, almost one-third of this year’s nominees.” Twenty of those below-the-line nominations were for women and minorities, including Sandy Powell, who secured her 15th nomination for “The Irishman,” and “Jojo Rabbit” costume designer Mayes C. Rubeo, who landed her inaugural Oscar nomination and entered the history books as the first Latina to be nominated in the category.

Rubeo wanted to create a world filled with vibrant colors to reflect the idea that the film was shot from the perspective of a 10-year-old boy. Similarly, when she was re-creating Hitler’s uniform, Rubeo dressed Taika Waititi (who also adapted the screenplay and directed) in baggy riding pants because he was, after all, a figment of the boy’s imagination.

Barbara Ling also landed her first Oscar nomination for Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” The production designer, who has worked on more than 20 films, was one of the 25% of female production designers who worked on the top 100-grossing films of 2019.

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Ling turned Hollywood streets and locations into iconic 1969 versions for Tarantino’s love letter to film and the city.
Some 92% of 2019’s 500 top-grossing films did not have any female department supervisors, but Rachael Tate, working with Oliver Tarney, scored a sound editing nomination. Tate is the only woman to be nominated in the sound category.
So it’s small steps in below-the-line awards categories for both women and people of color.

The last woman, and a woman of color, to be nominated in the editing field was Joi McMillon, who shared a 2016 nom with Nat Sanders for “Moonlight.”

On the other hand, “Parasite’s” six Oscar nominations were all historic, as the film earned South Korea its first best picture and international film noms as well as debut nominations for Lee Ha Jun (production design) and Yang Jinmo (editing).
Yang is the only person of color nominated in editing. Scorsese collaborator Thelma Schoonmaker, whose partnership with the director goes back to “Raging Bull,” earned a nomination, making her the only woman to earn an editing nom.

Meanwhile Kazu Hiro was the first artist of Japanese birth to win an Academy Award in the makeup/hair category with “Darkest Hour,” and he scored a nom for “Bombshell.”

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