Behind the scenes of ‘Selma’ with Oprah Winfrey, David Oyelowo, Ava DuVernay

Selma” is soaring up the ranks of our Best Picture contenders at the Oscars. It wasn’t even in our top 10 before it unspooled at the AFI filmfest on Nov. 11. Now, it is tied for second with “Birdman” behind perennial leader “Boyhood.” And four — Matt Atchity (Rotten Tomatoes), Edward Douglas (ComingSoon), Thom Geier and Christopher Rosen (HuffPo) — of our 27 Oscar Experts are predicting it to prevail. 

UPDATED: Experts’ Oscars predictions in 24 categories

The film focuses on those seminal events in Alabama in 1965 when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led thousands in marches from Selma to the state capitol in Montgomery to demand equal access to voting. Working from a script by rookie screenwriter Paul Webb, Ava DuVernay has crafted a film that has critics and audiences cheering. It has scored a perfect 100 at Rotten Tomatoes and a solid 91 at MetaCritic (that disparity is due to the former using a pass/fail system while the latter assigns specific scores to reviews). 

DuVernay is tipped to become just the fifth woman ever to earn a Best Director bid at the Oscars; only one of the previous four — Kathryn Bigelow — prevailed with her win in 2009 for helming Best Picture champ “The Hurt Locker.” And British thespian David Oyelowo is likely to contend for Best Actor for his uncanny portrayal of King. 

Among those working behind the scenes on “Selma” was Brad Pitt, whose Plan B company produced the picture, as it did with last year’s Oscar champ “12 Years a Slave.” Oprah Winfrey, who lent her star power to that film and executive produces this one, also appears in “Selma” as Annie Lee Cooper, an activist who took a defiant stand when denied the right to vote. 

Winfrey is profiled in one of three fascinating featurettes on “Selma” that have just been posted on the Paramount website. 

1. Oprah Winfrey as Annie Lee Cooper: Click here to watch

2. The women of “Selma”: Click here to watch

3. An early look at “Selma”: Click here to watch

See latest Oscar rankings when the Experts’ predictions are combined

Do you think “Selma” will win Best Picture? Click here to enter your own predictions for this category and all of Oscar’s top races, or use our easy drag-and-drop menu at the bottom of this post to get started. Your predictions determine our racetrack odds and you can keep editing them right up until the morning of Jan. 15, the day Oscar nominations are announced. Top score wins $1,000. You score points based on how accurately you predict the nominees (you get more points if you correctly predict a long-shot candidate before anyone else does), and if you’re one of our most accurate predictors, you’ll be included next year among our elite Top 24 Users and have even greater influence over our odds.

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