Oscars: Historic Wins for Mahershala Ali, Hannah Beachler and More

9:26 PM 2/24/2019

by Allison Crist and Annie Howard

'Roma' and 'Black Panther' made history during a diverse 91st Academy Awards.

Mahershala Ali
Mahershala Ali
Matt Petit - Handout/A.M.P.A.S. via Getty Images

After years of criticism and #OscarsSoWhite controversy, the 2019 Oscars saw a number of historic wins Sunday night.

Before the show even crossed the one-hour mark, the number of black women who have ever won non-acting Oscars went from one to three. As the show went on, Green Book's Mahershala Ali, Black Panther's Ruth E. Carter and Hannah Beachler, and Alfonso Cuaron's Roma and Spike Lee all notched firsts with their wins.

Overall, the Motion Picture Academy seemed to embrace diversity and inclusiveness, though representation will likely continue to be an issue at the awards show and the industry as a whole.

Below, The Hollywood Reporter takes a look at the historic wins from the 91st Academy Awards.

  • Hannah Beachler and Ruth E. Carter's 'Black Panther' Wins

    Hannah Beachler and Ruth E. Carter both took home Oscars for their respective work on Black Panther: Beachler for production design and Carter for costume design — making them the first black women to win in either category. 

    The wins were also the first non-acting awards for any black women since 1984, when Irene Cara won best original song for "Flashdance... What a Feeling."

  • 'Roma' Win Gives Mexico First Foreign-Language Honor

    Despite eight nominations prior to this year, Alfonso Cuaron's Roma won Mexico its first-ever foreign-language Oscar. The film, which draws on Cuaron's memories of growing up in Mexico City in the 1970s, follows last year winner, Sebastian Lelio's A Fantastic Woman, which scored Chile its first-ever honor.

    With his Roma nominations for the 2019 Oscars, the director tied the record for the most personal nominations for one film. The director already made history in 2014 when he became the first Mexico-born filmmaker to win a directing Oscar for Gravity

  • First-Ever Dual Wins in Cinematography and Directing

    Alfonso Cuarón became the first person ever to win both best cinematography and best director in the same year for Roma. The awards come just five years after Cuarón became the first Mexico-born filmmaker to ever win a directing Oscar.

    Roma was also the best picture favorite heading into Sunday night, but the film lost to Green Book. Had it taken home the top prize, Roma would have been the first to win the coveted category for Netflix or any streamer.

  • Mahershala Ali's Best Supporting Actor Win

    Mahershala Ali became the first black actor to win two best supporting Oscars after he won the category for his role of pianist Don Shirley in Green Book. He won the same award two years ago for Barry Jenkins' Moonlight.

    The win also makes Ali the second black actor to win more than one Oscar for acting, allowing him to follow in the footsteps of Denzel Washington.

  • Spike Lee's First Competitive Oscar

    Prior to the 2019 Oscars, Spike Lee had never won a competitive Oscar; instead, only claiming an honorary Oscar in 2015. This year, Lee took home the Oscar for best adapted screenplay for BlacKkKlansman

    While accepting the award, Lee gave a powerful speech about slavery and racism in America that eventually turned towards the 2020 presidential election, which is "around the corner. Let us all mobilize. Let us all be on the right side of history. Make the moral choice between love versus hate."

  • Female Directors Sweep Short Film Categories

    While female directors were shut out of the the best directing category at the 2019 Oscars, women took home all three Oscars for best short films for the first time in history, including live-action, animated and documentary. Directors Rayka Zehtabchi and Melissa Berton won best documentary short for their film Period. End of Sentence.

    Domee Shi and Becky Neiman-Cobb's won best animated short for Bao, and two other animated shorts to earn nominations, Animal Behaviour and Late Afternoon, had at least one female director at the helm. Four of the five live action short nominees had co-ed directing duos (Fauve, Marguerite, Mother) with the Oscar going to Jaime Ray Newman and her co-director Guy Nattiv for Skin.

  • Marvel Universe Wins First Oscar

    'Black Panther'
    'Black Panther'
    Courtesy of Marvel Studios

    Black Panther's triple Oscar win mark the first Oscars for the Marvel Universe. Panther picked up wins in best costume design, best production design and best original score. DC was the first superhero universe to win an Oscar for best makeup and hairstyling for Suicide Squad.