‘Selma’ Misses PGA Nomination After Another Screener Lapse


There were two big takeaways from this year’s Producers Guild of America nominations: The 2015 Oscar nominees should include a few major surprises, and screeners are ever so critical during awards season.

The biggest shock was the omission of the Ava DuVernay-directed “Selma” from the PGA’s 10 contenders list. But it turns out that Paramount sent DVD screeners to Academy voters in December, but not to the guilds. The film was also shut out from SAG Awards noms last month, again because voters hadn’t received screeners.

When Oscar moved its awards show a month earlier a decade ago, other kudos events also shifted — meaning studios since then have often run up against deadlines with their year-end openers. Paramount was waiting for final masters while PGA voting was held Dec. 1-Jan. 2. SAG voting was even earlier, Nov. 19-Dec. 8.

The Martin Luther King Jr. drama is one of the frontrunners in this year’s Oscar race and has already received feature nods from critics, the Golden Globes and Spirit Awards, among others. It’s possible “Selma” simply didn’t score enough PGA votes. But the screener factor seems a more likely explanation. It’s hard to avoid a cause-and-effect connection: Screeners were sent out for Warner Bros.’ “American Sniper,” which also opened Dec. 25, and and that film did score a nom.

In 1993 Steven Spielberg declined to make “Schindler’s List” available for screeners, wanting people to see the film on the bigscreen. But times have changed since then, and few filmmakers or studios want to eschew screeners. But timing is always crucial.

Ever since videocassettes were sent out in the late 1980s, execs at the Academy and studios have emphasized that they hope voters will see films on the bigscreen, saying that’s how they were intended to be seen. But voters have increasingly come to rely on screeners to catch up with contenders.

Aside from “Selma,” MIA titles include “Unbroken,” “Interstellar” and “Into the Woods.” But it’s not over yet. Last year, “Philomena” scored an Oscar nom for best picture even though it was ignored by PGA.

All those films feature strong artisan work, and that’s always a factor in the Academy Awards, since below-the-line branches account for one-third of Oscar voters (2,067 this year). Oscar ballots are due Jan. 8, with noms announced Jan. 15.

In general, PGA is a good omen for Oscar. Last year, eight of the PGA’s 10 nominees ended up with Academy Award nominations. “12 Years a Slave” and “Gravity” tied for the top prize before Steve McQueen’s slavery drama went on to take best picture at the Oscars. Prior to that, the last six PGA winners won the top prize at the Academy Awards.

Several films got good news Monday, with “Nightcrawler” a key example of the topsy-turvy year in which the alpha dogs and the underdogs have traded places.

Could the Open Road film score an Oscar nomination for best picture? Four months ago, the idea seemed far-fetched. When the film debuted in Toronto, awards talk was tentative and focused on Jake Gyllenhaal and the screenplay by Dan Gilroy (who also directed). But support has persisted and broadened for the film, including nominations for the Producers Guild, Art Directors, SAG and Ace Eddie award from American Cinema Editors. So the answer is yes, it could.

Of course, there were plenty of familiar titles in Monday’s PGA and Art Directors Guild voting, including such frequently cited films as “Birdman,” “Boyhood,” “Foxcatcher,” “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” “The Imitation Game” and “The Theory of Everything.” And Monday’s PGA announcements confirmed that “Whiplash,” “Gone Girl” and “American Sniper” — a quintessential “little” film and two high-profile Hollywood hits — are very much a part of the awards race.




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  1. Cecil B Da Mill says:

    Fury, selma what the hells the difference if your the producer you paid the frieght so it’s your point of view that’s doing the re write of history…you find out Oprahs name is at the top of Selma what do you expect but an evil racist LBJ….Maybe all this revisionist garbage will drive people back to books.

  2. steve barr says:

    Screeners are important . If Marion Cotilard is not nominated for The Immigrant and if the cinematography doesn’t get a nomination it will be because Harvey Weinstein didn’t send any.Since he didn.t rerelease the film at the end of the year to remind voters or take out ads in the trades the only way people would be able to see the film is through screeners.

  3. Susan says:

    Don’t see Selma. In an intentional, deliberate and antisemetic act, the filmmakers intentionally digitally removed all Jews from all images of the film. Even though the Civil Rights movement was assisted by Jews from the very beginning and Jews even gave their lives for the cause. See Mississippi Burning and Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner most famously gave up their lives for the Cause. Boycott Selma, its anitsemetic. http://forward.com/articles/212000/selma-distorts-history-by-airbrushing-out-jewish-c/?utm_content=DailyNewsletter_TopArea_Position-2_Headline&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_term=The%20Forward%20Today%20%28Monday-Friday%29&utm_campaign=Daily_Newsletter_Mon_Thurs%202015-01-06

  4. Just goes to show that the guilds don’t care about a film unless they get to see it for free.

  5. Films like “Selma” routinely write-out the contributions of good white people to the cause of black liberation. That is offensive. This film takes this disgusting habit and turns it into a pathology, pathetically attempting to rewrite history and impugn the character of a good and friendly president. When Lyndon Johnson fought for Civil Rights, the Democratic Party was the party of organized Racism in the United States, particularly in the old Confederacy. As politician from a southern state, his performance was brave and good. “Selma” is neither.

  6. Goodbyenoway says:

    @dex: you’re living in a fantasy claiming things that didnt happen. Nothing could have crossed LBJ’s desk for 20 years as he was a legislator not an executive. You continue to compare apples and oranges. It’s not about adhering to the facts. It’s about changing a character’s fundamentals to make them completely false. That’s what Selma does to LBJ. I’ve seen the film twice, I won’t be voting for it. How many times have you seen it?

    • Dex says:

      “Claiming things that didn’t happen” couldn’t be a more appropriate phrase for you. Though you claim to have seen “Selma” twice, you’ve inadvertently tipped your hand, which reveals that you actually haven’t seen the film at all. It’s up to you to figure out where veracity failed you.

      In the meantime, here’s something for you to gnaw: legislators vote on bills and every civil rights measure that crossed LBJ’s desk during the first 20 years of his Congressional stint was opposed by him. So again, he wasn’t the saint you imagine him to be. And while the Voting Rights bill was one of his signature presidential achievements, the truth behind it is that LBJ was initially reluctant to move forward. It was the actions of King and the civil rights activists–black and white–who bravely put their lives on the line in Selma that pushed Johnson to act far more swiftly than he wanted to. The collective result of their efforts shaped a significant moment in American history and despite the transparently desperate attempts of you and those of your ilk to undermine the film, it’s an important story that needed to be told.

  7. J.E. Vizzusi says:

    This is completely outragious! Members of PGA that cannot fit a Film of this magnitude into their schedules to screen on the big screen should be thrown out of said guild! We know who are the frontrunners.. we don’t need screeners. My favorite Film of 2014 “IDA” is not being screened anywhere! The only way a true vote is screening a film with a big audience.. but we don’t do that anymore, so we can sit in our hotubs and watch and vote.

  8. skyeknightdent says:

    Years ago when I was just starting out in the industry and was working as a temp sec in Universal Studio’s marketing department, I came up with the idea of sending out cassette tapes of the music to Cry Freedom. That was never done before. The score to Cry Freedom won big.

  9. RAL says:

    Hey Tim Gray – how about some objective journalism rather than the publicity kool aid. I know you’re a fan of the film, but maybe it just didn’t make the cut with the pga. Do you really think with all the hype that Selma was a catch up movie for the pga members???

    • timgray2013 says:

      I said in the story it’s possible the film didn’t get enough votes. I don’t know every member of the PGA, but I talk to a lot of voters. And they either didn’t see it or liked it a lot. But the bigger issue is that nearly every voter I talk with relies on screeners.

  10. Goodbyenoway says:

    Neither American Sniper nor Imitation Game takes a major historical figure and turns him from a hero to a villain. So the comparison with Selma is ridiculous. Making LBJ an obstructor of civil rights would be the same as making MLK a member of the KKK. Would you be okay with that?

    • Dex says:

      While claiming to like the “truth,” you conveniently dismiss the fact that neither “American Sniper” nor “The Imitation Game” adhere to the facts. The facts are these: For the first two decades that LBJ was in Congress, he voted against every civil rights measure that crossed his desk, including the one that banned lynching. In addition, he vehemently clashed with Truman over his civil rights agenda. So Johnson–while deserving of praise for the sweeping legislation he devoted himself to later in his political career–is certainly no “hero.” But he’s also no “villain” and according to those who have actually seen “Selma,” (which doesn’t include you), he’s not portrayed as such.

  11. The movie made LBJ to be a bad guy? Don’t the filmmakers know it was he who signed the Civil Rights Act?

  12. Goodbyenoway says:

    You are absolutely clueless. It’s not hagiography, it’s facts. There would have been no Civil Rights Act without LBJ. That’s a fact. It would be like producing a movie about Lincoln and claiming he had nothing to do with ending slavery. It’s factually wrong. This movie turned LBJ into an opponent of civil rights. This is a lie and a dangerous one. The filmmakers should be ashamed. And I don’t even like LBJ. But I do like the truth.

  13. Sean Moran says:

    SCREENERS FOLKS…many of us depend on these to vote, many of us are working and just can’t get to the theater – so why cut your noce to spite your face- SEND THEM……

  14. Cecil B Da Mill says:

    LBJ’s family has got to be pissed at the outright lies

  15. Cecil B Da Mill says:

    Maybe the twisted re write of the truth to prove a racist agenda

  16. Goodbyenoway says:

    Did you ever think they didnt like this lie of a movie? You create a film about an important event in US history and lie about it? Why? Perhaps the guild was just as appalled by that as other thinking people.

    • Dex says:

      @Cecil B Da Mill and Goodbyenoway
      Your manufactured outrage over “Selma” is laughable if only because both “American Sniper” and “The Imitation Game” have been accused of distorting the truth. Yet, while parroting talking points that have been spoon fed to you about “Selma,” you both remain hypocritically silent on all else.

    • BigPicture says:

      In your mind it seems that the truth is only truth if it conforms to the narrative as told by the friends and historians who wish to produce a hagiography of LBJ. Sadly, that is not the way to gain a full and accurate view of the the Civil Rights Movement throughout that period. Social change comes about when there is pressure from people making their voices heard on the streets. MLK was a key figure in organizing those masses into a potent social force – and the result was effective change in government policy. Politicians respond to the pressures generated when social forces converge in a powerful way, and if they are fortunate, they find themselves still enthroned as the putative leader when all is said and done. LBJ didn’t make the Civil Rights Movement happen – he let it happen by not doing too much to stop it. That is what happened in Selma, and that is what has happened over and over again throughout the course of history.

      • RAL says:

        Mr. Big Picture – if you think LBJ just passively sat back and let the landmark civil rights laws just happen … then you know nothing about LBJ, history or politics …. No president, other than maybe FDR, ,knew how to get difficult legislation passed as did LBJ. And the main reason was that he knew the House and the Senate like the back of his hand and had been a powerful Senate majority leader before becoming Kennedy’s vp. I suggest you read the multi volume biography of Johnson as well as the four book bio of Martin Luther King. Facts are facts and you do not know them.

  17. PETER JAY says:

    Maybe a problem is that SELMA got some bad press last week with the President Johnson/Martin Luther King controversy. What do you think? And also surprised that UNBROKEN, INTERSTELLAR, and INTO THE WOODS didn’t make the cut. How many films can be nominated by the PGA anyway?

    • timgray2013 says:

      PGA has 10 nominees for best film. The Academy says 5-10 films can be nominated for Oscar, but PGA’s numbers are always 10.

    • Mike says:

      Why are you surprised that Unbroken didn’t make the cut? It has a 49% rating on Rottentomatoes. Not exactly awards material. If Jolie hadn’t made it all about herself, maybe some of the actors could have gotten a nod. I hear the lead is great.

  18. dean says:

    I’m still in shock at how this film treated LBJ, whose efforts for racial equality was nothing short of heroic. The film portrayed him as another George Wallace.

    • Sean Moran says:

      GET OFF HER BACK- she got the pic made…and it was an excellent piece.

      • KB says:

        This isn ‘t going away. Julian Bond has now complained about the way LBJ is portrayed in the film, noting that LBJ was the greatest president ever for civil rights. So Julian Bond and Andrew Young (two black civil rights leaders) have criticised Du Vernay’s historical revisionism.

        Former a former publicist, she isn’t handling this too well.

  19. Andy says:

    What’s sort of odd is that the director is a former publicist. I would think she more than anyone would have been on top of this sort of stuff. Then again, that’s what her producers are for.

    • Mike says:

      Maybe Selma’s producer Brad Pitt wanted to make sure Fury and Unbroken had a better shot. Screeners were sent out for both of those films.

  20. MovieGeek says:

    I don’t understand why they keep on sending screeners so late in the day. In the last 2 weeks of December I must have received about 50 of them, if not more.
    How they expect us to watch all of them? What stops them to start sending them a bit earlier so that they can avoid the big “December Jam”?

    • timgray2013 says:

      Studios are often as frustrated as voters. They usually arrive late to voters because the studios get the final master late — and then the companies that produce the screeners are jammed. In the past, some screeners were so rushed that they were badly manufactured and unwatchable, so the companies try to rush it, but not rush it too much. It seems like every year there is a victim of the timing… Tim

  21. PGWho? says:

    The PGA continues to drift into the zone of ‘irrelevant’ organizations. It’s not even a ‘guild’ in the technical sense.

    • Ian says:

      The PGA has a great cross-section of membership, and possibly (along with ATAS) the best chance of leading the ongoing transition into ubiquitous multiplatform digital entertainment business models. All this is squandered, though, by a self-serving, overpaid, and out-of-touch executive leadership.

    • JK says:

      Well not irrelevant at all when the last seven PGA winners won the top prize at the Academy Awards.

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