Selma is the best picture nominated true story of Martin Luther King Jr. (David Oyelowo). The film is set in 1965 and tells the story of his fight against the government and his attempt at bringing equal rights to people of every race and nationality. To do this, he goes to a town called Selma. It is in this town that he convinces the people to stand up for what they believe is right and just, and in doing so, they collectively gather to face the police, most of whom are retaliating in violent measures. It's a powerful and ultimately important movie that deserves more recognition than it's getting.
Right from the start, Selma is David Oyelowo's movie, through and through. Oyelowo doesn't just play Martin Luther King Jr., he inhabits the character. His performance is beyond excellent, giving us, the audience, more than we deserve. Oyelowo is an actor I struggle to recall seeing in other films, although according to IMDb I've seen quite a few. Tell me his name again in ten years and I can assure you, I will be able to name several of his movies. At 38 years old, Oyelowo's career is just getting started, proving to us all that he can act. Snubbed of an Oscar? Perhaps, but so many people and movies were this year that it's hard to keep track of who's who.
But guess what? It seems Oyelowo wasn't the only person involved with Selma who got snubbed this year as director Ava DuVernay was too. She is just as deserving, if not more deserving than most of the other nominees, but I'm not here to talk about the Oscars. I'm here for Selma. Ava DuVernay is extremely powerful and confident in the way she directs. She understands the subject matter and how important it is, and she conveys it on screen brilliantly, although in part thanks to first time screenwriter, Paul Webb.
His screenplay, like most of the components of this film, is undeniably brilliant. Much like the directing, it's powerful stuff. Although certain scenes do tend to drag on a little during the first act, once the film gets going there's no stopping it. The time begins to fly by and my enjoyment levels begin to soar, which is especially impressive for a film featuring so many horrific and depressing situations.
However, one of the most shocking and horrifying scenes in the entire film is the scene in which the people of Selma partake in their first march, only to be stopped, brutalised and killed by the police. It's a scene that's challenging to watch, yet hard to turn away from, but it's handled in a mature approach. It's brutal, intense and wrong, but it's needed. And that could be used to describe pretty much all of this movie, really. It's just that sort of movie, but it's a damn good one too.
To sum up, Selma is a powerful, important and occasionally challenging to watch movie, but it's oh-so-brilliant as well. With confident direction from Ava DuVerynay, a brilliant first-time screenplay by Paul Webb and an utterly perfect performance from David Oyelowo, Selma is a must see.
4 1/2 Stars