Selma is one of the most critically-acclaimed movies of this awards season. It was recently nominated for four Golden Globes, and won for Best Original Song. But a series of guild award snubs have led some to question whether Selma is the victim of racism, sexism, or its studio’s failure to send out the movie to voters on time.
Selma failed to receive award nominations from the Screen Actors Guild, the Directors Guild, and the Producers Guild of America. Due to its high profile and favorable reviews, the movie’s absence is conspicuous. Time noted that had Ava DuVernay received a director’s nod, she would have been the only woman on the list of nominees.
The DGA snub got some on Twitter talking about whether the lack of recognition was justified.
If a movie directed by a woman about a male historical figure that got the reviews that Selma did still cannot get a DGA nomination who can?
— Melissa Silverstein (@melsil) January 13, 2015
Just saw the excellent Selma and I fully echo the confusion over Ava DuVernay’s DGA snub. How many more awards does Clint Eastwood need? — Noah Redfield (@MysterNoah) January 14, 2015
If you think SELMA’s DGA snub caused a ruckus, wait tilyou hear all the angry Christopher Nolan fans tomorrow morning.
— Jaime N. Christley(@j_christley) January 14, 2015
But there may have been a more practical reason why Selma was shut out of the guilds: voters simply didn’t see the film. As Variety reports, voters are always encouraged to see movies in theaters, but usually end up relying on DVD copies sent to them by the studios. Paramount did not send Selma screeners to the guilds, only to the Academy. In addition to Selma, other notables that did not have screeners sent included Unbroken, Interstellar, and Into the Woods.
The reason for the selective screener distribution apparently had to do with a time crunch, since Selma was finished on November 26 and the voting periods for various awards was only weeks later. The production of screeners is more complicated than a regular run of DVDs, since each copy is watermarked to prevent piracy and online leaks.
Paramount awards consultant Lea Yardum said the studio absolutely supports Selma.
“[The selective screener distribution] was not a ‘strategy’; it’s what we were able to do with this movie within the timeline of when it was finalized and received. We love this movie, and we’re supporting it with every ounce of our beings.”
Oscar nominations are due to be announced in the early morning of January 15. If Selma receives a nomination and eventually takes home the Best Picture Academy Award, it will be the first time since 1995 that the Best Picture winner has not been on the list of PGA nominees. On the other hand, since the Academy increased its Best Picture nominee list from five to 10, there has always been at least one nominee that was not on the PGA list.