Selma does not need an Oscar


On January 13, the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences failed to nominate “Selma” director Ava DeVernay for Best Director.

DeVernay would have been the first African American woman to be nominated for this prestigious award. The decision not to nominate DeVarney has warranted accusations of racism and favoring male nominees over a more diverse selection.

Despite the protests, DeVarney’s “Selma” does not need an Academy Award to be an essential work of cinema. Yet, such accusations are not unwarranted. Academy membership is 94 percent white and 76 percent male. This year’s Academy Awards include the greatest amount of white nominees since 1998. However, many critics of the Academy seem to overplay the role of race in regards to “Selma’s” low number of nominations.

Not to say that those angry that “Selma” gained two nominations should not be upset or continue to call for a more diverse Hollywood awards. However, the Academy has ignored many great films before such as The Shawshank Redemption, Fargo, Requiem for A Dream, and Do The Right Thing. “Selma” belongs with these films and others that have been considered important, defining films in the film industry.

DeVarney’s “Selma” breaks down the sanctified image of Martin Luther King; it shows King’s commitment to the civil rights movement, displays his shrewd political maneuvering in getting the 1965 voting rights act past, exposes the truth about his extramarital affairs and allows the audience to see him as a complex leader and person.

The script, the cinematography and the performances are all beyond scrutiny.

Teaming with African-American business leaders across the country, Paramount Pictures — the studio that produced “Selma” — offers free screenings of the feature to middle school and high school students. These screenings will familiarize over 275,000 students to bear witness to an important moment in history.

The time and money spent arranging these screenings could’ve been used for an Oscar campaign; however, the makers of “Selma” have made a film that is more important than any award will ever be.