Rachel Morrison Becomes First Woman Ever Oscar-Nominated for Best Cinematography

Rachel Morrison
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Rachel Morrison just made history.

The Mudbound cinematographer became the first woman ever nominated for the Best Cinematography Oscar when the contenders were announced on Tuesday. It also marks the last of any non-gender specific categories to nominate a woman in the awards show’s 90-year history.

“While it’s hard to believe that this ceiling has taken so long to break, I am absolutely humbled and thrilled to receive this great honor. I hope this nomination serves to encourage more women to throw a camera over their shoulder or to follow their dream no matter how distant it might appear.” Morrison said in a statement to ET. On the competition jury at the Sundance Film Festival this week, she heard about her nomination as she was about to board a flight from Los Angeles to Utah.

The recognition for the film, which was directed by Dee Rees and featured women in key roles behind the camera, follows a breakout year for female filmmakers.

Patty Jenkins broke records with Wonder Woman, while Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird became a front-runner at this year’s Oscars. Female storytellers dominated the 2017 Emmys, with Reed Morano, and Ava DuVernay taking home directing awards. After her 1991 film Daughters of Dust was heavily sourced in Beyonce’s Lemonade, Julie Dash re-emerged with an episode of DuVernay’s Queen Sugar. As for DuVernay, she finished production of Disney’s upcoming A Wrinkle in Time, becoming the first woman of color to helm a $100 million movie. Sofia Coppola became the second woman ever to win the Cannes Film Festival prize for Best Director for The Beguiled.

“It’s very empowering. I feel like I’m part of something so incredible right now because we’re taking our place in the world,” Mudbound star Mary J. Blige told ET about working on a set led by women.

Morrison, who previously worked on The Hills, has since handled cinematography for Fruitvale Station, Cake, Dope and HBO’s Confirmation. She was nominated for a News and Documentary Emmy in 2005 for Rikers High and a 2016 Primetime Emmy for What Happened, Miss Simone? The Oscar nomination for Mudbound kicks off a high-profile year for Morrison, whose next film is Marvel’s Black Panther.

Mudbound was also nominated for three other awards, including Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Song and Best Supporting Actress. 

The 90th annual Academy Awards will be hosted live by Jimmy Kimmel at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on Sunday, March 4 starting at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT on ABC.


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