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Ava DuVernay's 'Selma' Enters Oscar Race, Sets Christmas Day Release

Photo of Kevin Jagernauth By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist June 20, 2014 at 2:06PM

Earlier this year, we got a bit silly and dropped our feature, Premature Oscar Predictions: The 2015 Best Picture Contenders and while there are some informed guesses on there, we never would've thought—even now—that Ava DuVernay's "Selma" would be in the mix. Casting has been moving along here and there, but in general, news around the former Lee Daniels project has been mostly quiet. But today the drama made its presence known as an Oscar contender and one of the big fall films to keep an eye on.
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Selma Martin Luther King Ava DuVernay

Earlier this year, we got a bit silly and dropped our feature, Premature Oscar Predictions: The 2015 Best Picture Contenders and while there are some informed guesses on there, we never would've thought—even now—that Ava DuVernay's "Selma" would be in the mix. Casting has been moving along here and there, but in general, news around the former Lee Daniels project has been mostly quiet. But today the drama made its presence known as an Oscar contender and one of the big fall films to keep an eye on.

Paramount Pictures and Pathé announced today that "Selma," now filming, will open on Christmas Day in limited release, going wide on January 9, 2015. It's an interesting move, with the Martin Luther King pic clearly seen from the outset as a major awards player. It will see DuVernay stepping into the big leagues with one big jump following indie efforts like "Middle Of Nowhere." And we can now probably add David Oyelowo to the Best Actor race too. But here's the interesting thing: the film probably won't be done in time for the major fall festivals, so it'll be interesting to see how Paramount pushes the movie out. Either way, adjust your Oscar rankings accordingly. Official 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.

This article is related to: Selma, Awards, Academy Awards


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