A doozy. This shows the life and times of the great Martin Luther King Jr. (David Oyelowo), and how he inspired an entire race of people to stand up for themselves and march from Selma to Montgomery for equal voting rights. I’m writing this well after the Oscars have already come and gone, but I actually watched this before they aired. Obviously, we all know the end results, but even before February 22nd, I foresaw the outcome for Selma at the Oscars, given that this got snubbed for best director and, much more egregiously, best actor. David Oyelowo transforms for this role; if you close your eyes, he has the voice and speech patterns down, and when you open them, he is not an actor, he is Dr. King himself, but Oyelowo still manages to own it and put his own personal stamp on his committed performance. He manages to capture everything you know about MLK and more. He is so good at delivering speeches, and it is not hard to see how this man was one of the most inspirational people to ever walk this Earth.
The fact that he wasn’t nominated is robbery, and he deserved to be there over Bradley Cooper.
What is so great about Selma is how notably relevant it is. There is so much brutal, violent racial crime today that is still occurring today against the black community, and you would think that more progress would been made these past 50 years, but you’d be surprised. Trayvon Martin. Michael Brown in Ferguson. The list goes on, and events like this are going to continue to happen until another great influential person can come along to instigate change. Even if you are Caucasian, this is going to make you really mad at white people at the beginning, although this does show people of all races standing up for what is right in the end. It really makes you irked with the South, and speaking as somebody who has lived in Florida for twelve years, I think I can go the rest of my life without going to Alabama.
But if you have to visit, don’t forget to set your watch back six decades.
Selma is an effective, emotionally charged movie. It will upset you, and it is very easy to get invested in because the film does a great job of constantly reminding you just how high the stakes are. Also, there are these real life logs from FBI communication that periodically pop up throughout, and it gives you a weird feeling about the government; was it really absolutely imperative to monitor and spy on a person just trying to stand up for his civil rights? For a movie about race that is noticeably apropos, Selma is a very important film.
Selma (2014) ****
– Critic for Hire
Want to see where this fell in my list of best films of the 2014? See for yourself here.