'Hidden Figures,' 'Arrival' Garner Oscar Nominations

A woman in an orange hazmat suit holds up a whiteboard with the word "human" written on it.
2016's "Arrival" depicted first contact with aliens and the struggle to understand and communicate with them. (Image credit: Jan Thijs/Paramount Pictures)

This year's Academy Awards may have an otherworldly bent: The sci-fi spectacle "Arrival" and the space history flick "Hidden Figures" were nominated for Best Picture, and space media made the list in other places as well.

"Arrival" is a thoughtful story of alien contact based on a short story by Ted Chiang that was released in November of last year. In addition to receiving the nomination for Best Picture, the  film was nominated for Best Directing, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing and Best Sound Mixing.

"Hidden Figures," a film that follows black women who performed calculations at NASA's Langley Research Center in Virginia leading up to John Glenn's orbit around the Earth, was also nominated for Best Picture. In addition, Octavia Spencer was nominated for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for portraying pioneering programmer Dorothy Vaughan. The film also scored a nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay; it was based on a new historical narrative by Margot Shetterly. The movie debuted in a limited number of theaters on Dec. 25, 2016, and was released more widely on Jan. 6, 2017. [On 'Hidden Figures' Set, NASA's Early Years Take Center Stage]

Besides the two Best Picture nominees, a few franchise favorites got recognized as well: "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" was nominated for Best Sound Mixing and Best Visual Effects, and "Star Trek Beyond" was nominated for Best Makeup and Hairstyling. Marvel's "Doctor Strange" was also nominated for Best Visual Effects. (Read our interview with astrophysicist Adam Frank on the film's mind-bending science.)

So, if you tune in for the 89th Academy Awards on Feb. 26 (airing at 5:30 pm PST, or 8:30 pm EST), you're sure to spot a few things that are out of this world

Email Sarah Lewin at slewin@space.com or follow her @SarahExplains. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Google+. Original article on Space.com.

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Sarah Lewin
Associate Editor

Sarah Lewin started writing for Space.com in June of 2015 as a Staff Writer and became Associate Editor in 2019 . Her work has been featured by Scientific American, IEEE Spectrum, Quanta Magazine, Wired, The Scientist, Science Friday and WGBH's Inside NOVA. Sarah has an MA from NYU's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program and an AB in mathematics from Brown University. When not writing, reading or thinking about space, Sarah enjoys musical theatre and mathematical papercraft. She is currently Assistant News Editor at Scientific American. You can follow her on Twitter @SarahExplains.