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'Selma' stands tall in the Golden Globes race

The highly-anticipated Martin Luther King, Jr. biopic "Selma" made a strong showing in Thursday's Golden Globe nominations.
AFI FEST 2014 Presented By Audi \"Selma\" First Look - Red Carpet
Producer/actor Oprah (L) and actor David Oyelowo attend the \"Selma\" first look during the AFI FEST 2014 presented by Audi at...

The highly anticipated Martin Luther King, Jr. biopic "Selma" made a strong showing in Thursday's Golden Globe nominations, scoring nods in the best actor, director and motion picture drama categories.

The film, directed by rising star Ava DuVernay, portrays the iconic civil rights leader's ultimately successful campaign for voting rights in 1965. It stars black British actor David Oyelowo ("The Butler," "Lincoln") as King. The success of "Selma" at the Globes will surely give the film a boost in the Oscar race, following a setback of being snubbed by the Screen Actors Guild Awards.

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"Selma" is Paramount Pictures' biggest awards contender this year, according to the The New York Times. And it has also made history, because DuVernay is the first African-American woman to be nominated for a best director Golden Globe by the Hollywood Foreign Press, the body that determines the winners. Should DuVernay be nominated for a best director Oscar, she will also be the first black female filmmaker (and only the fifth woman ever) to be receive such an honor.

DuVernay believes that her period film could potentially resonate with advocates for social justice today. “In so many ways [the movie] could be foundational for people who are in the streets, who are resisting, who are amplifying their voices and making their concerns heard, to just understand what was done before and to elongate their vision about what we should be doing now,” the director told Boston's NPR affiliate WBUR.

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Still, "Selma" is not the favorite to take the Golden Globe or the Academy Award when they are awarded early next year. The Hollywood satire "Birdman," which has served as comeback vehicle for beloved character actor Michael Keaton, had the best showing in the film categories, scoring seven nominations. And in the drama race, "Selma" will have to fend off the inspirational Stephen Hawking biopic "The Theory of Everything,"  the brooding character study "Foxcatcher," the acclaimed coming-of-age epic "Boyhood," and the WWII thriller "The Imitation Game."

As if the case every awards season, some well-regarded films failed to get recognized. Actress Angelia Jolie's first foray in directing, "Unbroken," a war film based on a true story, did not get nominated in a major category and veteran actor-director Clint Eastwood's well-reviewed drama "American Sniper" also missed the cut.

"Selma," which has already been named the best film of the year by the African-American Film Critics Association, opens in select cities on Christmas Day before it expands nationwide in January.