At the end of the day, or more precisely on the morning of Thursday, January 15, Selma might squeak by with a Best Picture nomination. Perhaps a last-minute sympathy surge will manifest from Academy members who were shocked it didn’t make the PGA’s Zanuck nominee list. But after this morning’s stunning PGA exclusion, I think the game is pretty much over. Selma screeners were slow in arriving when they arrived at all, the “disparagement of LBJ’s role” meme stuck to the wall, and some people apparently decided that they didn’t want to do the African-American suffering thing two years in a row after 12 Years A Slave. The current situation, in the wake of the PGA snub, is that Selma has no chance to win the Best Picture Oscar, and is apparently in some kind of struggle to even be nominated. But it might slip in. Who knows?
How long does it take a DVD duplication facility to crank out thousands of discs and pop them into jackets, and how time-consuming is the mailing process after that? It shouldn’t take that long, should it? I’m hearing it was pretty much DuVernay’s fault for taking a long while to finish post-production despite a nearly complete version (sans closing credits) showing at AFI Fest on November 11th. (On 12.5 Paramount’s Lea Yardum told BFCA members that Selma “has just recently been finalized…therefore we are unable to send you screeners.”) And I don’t know whose responsibility it would be except Paramount’s for taking as long as it did to send out Selma screeners, and for sending them only to Academy members when they were finally ready.
Balloting for Academy nominations closes on Thursday at 5 pm so DuVernay snagging (or not snagging) a DGA nomination on Tuesday, 1.13, won’t mean a thing in terms of Oscar noms. What matters, as In Contention‘s Kris Tapley pointed out this morning, is that four industry groups have announced nominations so far this year: SAG, ACE, ADG (i.e., Art Directors Guild) and the PGA. And only five films have been recognized by all four — Birdman, Gone Girl, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game and Nightcrawler. Selma has been hyped to heaven by its Oscar-blogging friends, but when push has come to shove it has not been cutting the mustard.
Ava DuVernay‘s film has one final chance to counter a growing impression that it’s a bird with a broken wing. And that’s if DuVernay lands one of the five DGA feature-film nominations next Tuesday morning (1.13). That will at least keep Selma on some kind of life support. Is David Oyelowo‘s performance as Martin Luther King still likely to be Best Actor-nominated? Yes, but even he, no doubt still beaming from Brad Pitt‘s sing-a-long tribute at last Saturday night’s Palm Springs Film festival tribute, has taken a slight hit this morning.
During yesterday’s [1.4] chat with Deadline‘s Mike Fleming, former Variety editor Peter Bart said this about news stories that Selma had misrepresented LBJ’s role in the fight for the Voing Rights Act of 1965: “I am pretty good about filtering out this stuff but the 11th-hour comments about Lyndon Johnson’s role in Selma were persuasive and relevant to someone (like myself) with a journalistic background. Did the movie slight his immense role in the civil rights movement? Movies should be ‘true’ as well as dramatic.”
This morning I asked some colleagues to comment or explain the PGA’s Selma snub. Most of what they said came down to screeners:
Pete Hammond: “Selma didn’t send screeners [in time]. But then Unbroken did. So who knows?”
Tom O’Neil: “Unbroken screeners arrived after Xmas, so how much time did PGA members really have to watch it? Paramount didn’t send Interstellar DVDs to PGA either. I wonder if it would’ve gotten in. Those money-chasing producers love commercial pix so much that, remember, PGA nominated Skyfall, Star Trek and Bridesmaids for Best Picture. Guild voters love Nolan’s work so much that they nominated Dark Knight (unlike the Oscars) and Inception. If everybody had their act together this year, sent screeners and sent them early, it’d be fascinating to see how the race unfolded.”
Kris Tapley (excerpt from column): “Let’s talk screeners, and specifically about Selma first. A lot will be made of its miss today with the PGA. What I think it reveals, as will a DGA snub of Ava DuVernay, is that voting bodies are far too dependent on screeners. Granted, this is a very late-breaking film. DVDs could not be made until mid-December and then, only a select number were sent: to the Academy. It’s hard to get out to the theater over the holiday. Etc. But we’re seeing an interesting test case here, because at the end of the day, I’ll still be shocked if the film doesn’t land in a number of key Oscar categories.”