Atlanta-filmed ‘Selma’ earns best picture, best song Oscar nods

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Credit: Paramount Pictures

The powerful biopic “Selma,” much of which filmed in metro Atlanta, has earned Academy Awards nominations for best picture and best original song.

The ballad “Glory,” by John Legend and rapper-actor Common, who also portrays the Rev. James Bevel in the movie, also won a best song Golden Globe on Sunday. The movie also had been Golden Globe-nominated for best picture, best director (Ava DuVernay) and best actor/drama (David Oyelowo) but did not repeat the actor and director nominations when Oscar nods were announced Thursday morning.

The film tells the story of the Selma-to-Montgomery march movement led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Atlanta civil rights heroes including U.S. Rep. John Lewis, former Atlanta Mayor and U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young, the Rev. C.T. Vivian and the late Revs. Hosea Williams and Ralph David Abernathy.

It’s a period piece complete with vintage wardrobes and historical artifacts like phone booths, but it feels timely, given the nation’s more recent racial strife.

“I think the film speaks to what is going on in the country right now,” DuVernay said during a recent interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “If it triggers conversation, that would be a beautiful thing.”

“Selma” filmed key scenes in the Alabama town that became notorious following the 1965 attack on peaceful marchers at the Edmund Pettus Bridge and also did quite a bit of filming in metro Atlanta. The Georgia state Capitol building, an intown Baptist church, the Marietta-Cobb Museum of Art and the Marietta Square are among the locations used for filming sites.

“Atlanta was a treasure trove of locations for this film,” DuVernay said. “We found all the places we needed.”

The first black woman to win best director honors at Sundance (for “Middle of Nowhere”), DuVernay noted the timing of Thursday’s nominations. It would have been King’s 86th birthday.

“Happy Birthday, Dr. King,” DuVernay tweeted shortly after the announcement. “An Oscar gift for you. To ‘Selma’ cast and crew led by our miracle David Oyelowo! To Common and Legend! Kudos! March on!”