Ava DuVarney’s ‘Selma’ to Make Oscar Qualifying Run on Christmas Day

selma image

selma_imageHere’s a last minute Oscar contender to hit our doorsteps.  Ava DuVarney’s anticipated film Selma, which tells the story of Martin Luther King, Jr. and his historic struggle to secure voting rights.  David Oyelowo will star as Dr. King as if anything, is a huge possibility for Best Actor if all hits well.  Oprah Winfrey has joined the cast as Annie Lee Cooper, which also puts her back in the running just one year following her shocking Oscar omission for Lee Daniels’ The Butler.  I’d also keep an eye on Academy Award nominee Tom Wilkinson who will play Lyndon B. Johnson.

Read the full press release below:

HOLLYWOOD, CA (June 20, 2014) – Paramount Pictures and Pathé today announced that the feature film “SELMA” will have a limited release in the U.S. on Christmas day and will open wide on January 9, 2015. Directed by Ava DuVernay (“MIDDLE OF NOWHERE”), the film is being produced by Oprah Winfrey, Plan B, the producers of the Academy Award®-winning “TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE,” and Cloud Eight Films’ Academy Award®-winning Christian Colson (“127 HOURS,” “SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE”).

Academy Award® nominee Oprah Winfrey joins the film’s cast as Annie Lee Cooper, an elderly woman and visible leader amongst the civil rights protesters in Selma who tried to register to vote and was unfairly denied by the sheriff.

The film is currently shooting in Atlanta, Georgia, and Montgomery and Selma, Alabama.

“SELMA” is the story of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s historic struggle to secure voting rights for all people – a dangerous and terrifying campaign that culminated with the epic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, and led to President Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The film’s release will celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the landmark legislation.

The film stars David Oyelowo (“INTERSTELLAR,” “LEE DANIEL’S THE BUTLER”) as Martin Luther King Jr., Tom Wilkinson (“THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL,” “MICHAEL CLAYTON”) as Lyndon Baines Johnson, Carmen Ejogo (“ALEX CROSS,” “PRIDE AND GLORY”) as Coretta Scott King, Andre Holland (“42,” “1600 Penn”) as Andrew Young, Omar J. Dorsey (“DJANGO UNCHAINED,” “THE BLIND SIDE”) as James Orange, Alessandro Nivola (“A MOST VIOLENT YEAR,” “AMERICAN HUSTLE”) as John Doar, Dylan Baker (“The Good Wife,” “Damages”) as J. Edgar Hoover, Giovanni Ribisi (“My Name is Earl,” “AVATAR”) as Lee White, Tessa Thompson (“Heroes,” “Veronica Mars”) as Diane Nash, Colman Domingo (“LEE DANIELS’ THE BUTLER,” “42”) as Ralph Abernathy, Stephen Root (“Justified,” “Boardwalk Empire”) as Al Lingo, Jeremy Strong (“The Good Wife,” “ZERO DARK THIRTY”) as James Reeb, with Tim Roth (“Lie to Me,” “THE INCREDIBLE HULK”) as George Wallace, and Oprah Winfrey (“LEE DANIELS’ THE BUTLER,” “THE COLOR PURPLE”) as Annie Lee Cooper.

Paramount is handling the film’s domestic distribution, Pathé is distributing in the UK and France and Pathé International will handle sales to the rest of the world.

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About Paramount Pictures Corporation

Paramount Pictures Corporation (PPC), a global producer and distributor of filmed entertainment, is a unit of Viacom (NASDAQ: VIAB, VIA), a leading content company with prominent and respected film, television and digital entertainment brands. Paramount controls a collection of some of the most powerful brands in filmed entertainment, including Paramount Pictures, Paramount Animation, ParamountVantage, Paramount Classics, Insurge Pictures, MTV Films, and Nickelodeon Movies. PPC operations also include Paramount Home Media Distribution, Paramount Pictures International, Paramount Licensing Inc., and Paramount Studio Group.

About Pathé

Pathé is one of the leading European film production and distribution companies with offices in both Paris and London.  It is involved in all aspects of filmmaking, from development and production through to international sales and distribution. Films produced/distributed by Pathé range from THE QUEEN to SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE and from THE IRON LADY to PHILOMENA.  Pathé’s upcoming releases include Matthew Warchus’ PRIDE starring Bill Nighy and Imelda Staunton; and Sarah Gavron’s SUFFRAGETTE starring Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham-Carter, Brendan Gleeson and Meryl Streep.

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Written by Clayton Davis

Clayton Davis is the esteemed Editor and Owner of Born in Bronx, NY to a Puerto Rican mother and Black father, he’s been criticizing film and television for over a decade. Clayton is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association where he votes and attends the kick off to the awards season, the Critics Choice Awards. He also founded the Latino Entertainment Journalists Association, the first Latino-based critics’ organization in the United States. He’s also an active member of the African-American Film Critics Association, New York Film Critics Online, International Press Academy, Black Reel Awards, and the Broadcast Television Journalists Association. Clayton has been quoted and appeared in various outlets that include The New York Times,, Variety, Deadline, Los Angeles Times, FOX 5, Bloomberg Television, AOL, Huffington Post, Bloomberg Radio, The Wrap, Slash Film, and the Hollywood Reporter.


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Geez Christmas is going to be an Oscar-massacre. Exodus, Big Eyes, the Cameron Crowe project, Into the Woods, Unbroken, Paddington and this all on the same day? I wouldn’t be surprised if a couple of those got the boot to the first quarter, because yikes! If I remember right, premiering that late in the season isn’t even all that desirable and hasn’t been successful in ages. I almost want to ask Paramount if they’re sure they want to rush a project like this that badly! I think they only started filming one month ago and are still casting now. This… Read more »


So, I take it “A Most Violent Year” will be pushed back to 2015?


This, The Imitation Game and AMVY are now in the 9th spot (“probably a good BP shot, but not going to get totally in yet, and can’t be considered one of my locks”). Here’s my predictions for BP, sorted in various ways:


“Gone Girl”
“Inherent Vice”
“Big Eyes”

Either “The Imitation Game”, “A Most Violent Year” (if it’s released in 2014) or “Selma”

Jamie Teller

I’m going to be VERY wary about this one, especially as an Oscar contender. Super last-minute releases are a dicey bet, the Academy has not really embraced female directors since they gave it to Bigelow, and 12 Years notwithstanding, they are still a long ways from truly embracing black filmmakers. So I’m going to need a trailer at the VERY least.

Also, why hasn’t Middle of Nowhere ever made it to DVD?

Austin Kemprowski

If two female directors are (finally) recognized in the same year, the Academy might explode

Sam Coff

IMDb has both Oprah and Brad Pitt listed as producers on this movie. I ain’t gonna pretend like their clout ain’t gonna influence some people.


Where should this rank on your Oscar radar? This seems to have tons of pedigree, with Winfrey producing it, and Plan B coming off a Oscar win. The release date shows a lot of confidence in the picture, and this could be a real awards juggernaut if it done right.


So, how much of a Oscar chance does this have?


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Venus in Fur (★★)

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