Selma’s snubs speak volumes about Hollywood and the Oscars

Looks like it wasn’t the screeners. Conventional wisdom as to why Selma was shut out of the SAG, PGA, DGA, and BAFTA awards held that Paramount failed to send advanced screeners to guild members before voting began. Coupled with a late December release, pundits argued Selma just didn’t have time to build much buzz before guild nominations were announced. Some predicted the film would fare much better at the Academy Awards, whose members did receive their screeners in time. Yet Thursday’s Oscar nominations saw a virtual Selma shut-out (on Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday no less). The film was nominated only for Best Song and Best Picture, although with no other major nominations it has little chance of winning the latter category. The film received no technical awards, no Best Actor nod for its stunning lead David Oyelowo, and no Best Director nomination for Ava DuVernay, who would have been the first black woman ever nominated for the Best Director Oscar.

It would have been understandable had Selma not won every major award this year. It’s inconceivable it wasn’t nominated for them.


Yes we should get angry about Selma’s awards season snubs. Yes we should question why Selma is called out for historical inaccuracies when other historical dramas aren’t. Yes we should call these snubs racist and sexist, even though others will offer less controversial assessments. But along the way, we shouldn’t forget that Selma is also a great piece of cinema. And that legacy can last well after this embarrassing chapter of Oscar history fades.

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2015 VMA Nominations:
  • Best Collaboration - Bad Blood
  • Best Pop Video - Blank Space
  • Best Female Video - Blank Space
  • Best Art Direction - Bad Blood (Charles Infante)
  • Best Cinematography - Bad Blood (Christopher Probst)
  • Best Direction - Bad Blood (Joseph Kahn)
  • Best Editing - Bad Blood (Chancler Haynes at Cosmo Street)
  • Best Visual Effects - Bad Blood (Ingenuity Studios)
  • Video of the Year - Bad Blood

Interviews with Oscar voters reveal they are kind of awful, vaguely racist

While we at The A.V. Club can only discuss the Oscar race, make predictions, and complain about snubs, The Hollywood Reporter is running a new series of “brutally honest” interviews with the people who actually pick the Oscar winners. So far two interviews have been released, and under the protection of anonymity these Academy members are very honest about who they’re voting for and why, not to mention very defensive about perceived insults to the Academy.

“I didn’t think Selma was a particularly good film, apart from the main actor [David Oyelowo], and I think the outcry about the Academy being racists for not nominating it for more awards is offensive,” explained one male member of the Academy’s animation branch. A female member of the public relations branch (who is hopefully more tactful in her day job) adds:

“What no one wants to say out loud is that Selma is a well-crafted movie, but there’s no art to it. If the movie had been directed by a 60-year-old white male, I don’t think that people would have been carrying on about it to the level that they were. And as far as the accusations about the Academy being racist? Yes, most members are white males, but they are not the cast of Deliverance—they had to get into the Academy to begin with, so they’re not cretinous, snaggletoothed hillbillies. When a movie about black people is good, members vote for it. But if the movie isn’t that good, am I supposed to vote for it just because it has black people in it? I’ve got to tell you, having the cast show up in T-shirts saying “I can’t breathe” [at their New York premiere]—I thought that stuff was offensive. Did they want to be known for making the best movie of the year or for stirring up shit?”

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