LOS ANGELES – “Selma,” the critically acclaimed movie starring David Oyelowo, Carmen Ejogo, Oprah Winfrey and directed by Ava DuVernay was not recognized as Best Picture, it did go home with at least one prize.
“Glory” from “Selma” won the Academy Award for best original song.
Performed and written by Common and John Legend, it also won the Golden Globe for Best Original Song.
The Edmund Pettus Bridge stood center stage in both the performance and acceptance speeches by John Legend and Common for their Oscar-winning song.
The site where some 600 civil rights protesters were first attacked by law enforcement as they left Selma, Alabama 50 years ago to march and returned in larger numbers led by Martin Luther King Jr. to journey to Montgomery, Alabama, was visually recreated onstage Sunday with a chorus marching through it.
“This bridge was once a landmark of a divided nation but is now a symbol for change,” Common said while accepting the award. “This bridge was built on hope, welded with compassion.”
The award was given to composers Legend and Common under their legal names, John Stephens and Lonnie Lynn.
“Nina Simone said it’s an artist’s duty to reflect the times they live,” Legend said, referring to the singer and activist. “Selma is now because the struggle for justice is right now.”
Legend cited voting rights and the incarceration rates of black men.
Backstage, he said there was still a lot to be done.
“When you think about equality and freedom and justice, we’ve got more work to do,” he said.
Common, who also had an acting role in the film based on the historic 1965 march from Selma, Alabama to Montgomery led by Martin Luther King Jr., said it was their duty to speak out, given the stage and setting of the Oscars.
“How could you not say anything, especially representing a film like ‘Selma’,” he said.
Tears covered the face of actor David Oyelowo who starred in “Selma” as Martin Luther King Jr. and stood with the rest of the crowd for a standing ovation after the pair’s performance.
Common credited Oyelowo with ensuring “Selma” was made by getting director Ava DuVernay on board and involving Oprah. The singer said he had called up Legend while he was on tour in London inquiring about collaborating.
“That word really inspired me,” Legend said of “Glory”. “The song should sound triumphant.”
The biggest winner of the night was Mexican filmmaker Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, director of Best Picture “Birdman” starring Michael Keaton. The movie also won best original screenplay and best cinematography. Best Supporting Actor winner was J.K Simmons as a sadistic music teacher in “Whiplash,” Best Supporting Actress was.
Julianne Moore won for Best Actress for her role in “Still Alice” about a college professor with early onset Alzheimer’s disease and in a slight surprise, British actor Eddie Redmayne won for his portrayal of scientist Stephen Hawking in “The Theory of Everything.” Patricia Arquette was named Best Supporting Actress for her role in Boyhood which was shot over 12 years. During her acceptance speech, she advocated equal pay for women.
The full list of Oscar winners is HERE.