In the ongoing story of the Selma awards snub, the SAG Awards are an interesting outlier. No, the film wasn't nominated there either, but there is a reason why, and this one's on Paramount Pictures. They totally bungled the release and distribution of awards show screeners. The cut of the film came in late, as reported by The Hollywood Reporter, so they weren't able to process screeners in time to head out to the guilds. So the Directors, Writers, and Actors Guilds weren't able to get the film for evaluation. The only voting body to receive screeners in time for nominations was the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which votes for the Oscars. It's a shame, because that's a pretty trivial reason for a great film to not be considered. I'd go as far as to say it's a full-on stupid reason for it not to be considered, especially because it houses some incredible performances, led by David Oyelowo, who wasn't doing a mere impression of MLK, but managed to duplicate his unique speaking style.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, voters have begun relying on the film screeners. So if they have every film but one, the movie that didn't make the cut is more likely to be ignored, especially if it just hit wide release a few weeks ago. Movies like Boyhood and The Imitation Game have been out for so long there are plenty of avenues, including in some cases at-home VOD, to watch them. Want to see Selma? You have to either pay for a limited release screening, know someone who's a critic, or be a member of the Academy.
Word of mouth on Selma is almost universally positive, but also very quiet, mostly fueled by critics and a few outspoken industry people like Spike Lee. But people like Bradley Cooper got A-list support from Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, and Ben Affleck, in addition to punctually delivered DVDs.
The relatively minimal word of mouth among Hollywood circles may be contributing to Duvernay's film being underestimated. In a field filled with soft-focus biographies that gloss over the complicated pieces of their subjects' lives, hers manages to acknowledge the edges of King's life, like his infidelity. And not enough people know that credited screenwriter Paul Webb and Duvernay worked together to write totally original speeches because Dreamworks holds the film rights to Dr. King's work.
And the fact that nobody's even noticed? Another testament to the film's skill. It's a done deal now, there's no way the film will make a surprise Oscar-winning run. But it will go down as a historical disappointment.
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