posted at 04:50
Author: Josh Dickey
Selma, American Sniper crash the Oscar race on the same night
LOS ANGELES - It'd been roughly two months since a sure-fire new Oscar hopeful hit the scene, and right on the heels of Interstellar come two more - Selma and American Sniper, which landed on the same night Tuesday at AFI Fest. On the night of Veteran's Day, Selma, the Dr. Martin Luther King biopic covering the 1965 voting-rights marches in Alabama, and Clint Eastwood's American Sniper, the story of Navy SEAL and "Most lethal sniper in American military history" Christopher Kyle, debuted in back-to-back screenings at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood. Paramount Pictures was only planning to show 30 minutes of Selma, but Oprah Winfrey, a producer with a small role in the film, and director Ava DuVernay let it be known in a Twitter back-and-forth on Sunday that the edit got done just in time - they'd be showing the whole thing. Selma's big wave had barely crested when it was time to clear the Egyptian's boxy room; the footage-peek-turned-screening had used up its time in front of American Sniper, AFI's "Surprise" screening that was introduced by Eastwood himself. Reactions weren't as universally resounding for Sniper, which Warner Bros. Is screening just in time for awards season but will hold until January for a wider audience. Still, it's clear that Eastwood has re-inserted himself into the awards conversation for the first time since 2011, when J. Edgar topped out with a Golden Globe nomination for best drama. AFI Fest is shaping up to be a critical awards-season showcase; because it comes several months after Telluride, the Venice Film Fest and Toronto, it gives late-entry films a high-profile showcase on the eve of hard-core campaigning time.

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