The chronicles of the Civil Rights Movement in “Selma” are a perfect example of historical drama done right in film. An epic and not overly rose-tinted portrayal of Martin Luther King is played brilliantly by David Oyelowo. There aren’t any weak links to be found in the rest of the cast performances of activists or government officials, each of whom the audience is coaxed into adoration or absolute disgust for.
Last years Oscar Best Picture winner “12 years a Slave” (my review for that here: http://wp.me/p2EM0A-xa ), didn’t impress me as much as “Selma” did, because the latter has what the former does not: Driving purpose, relatable thematic elements, and hints of dark humor which can be so effective for somber topical films such as these.
There is a timeliness that hangs heavy, given the events of Ferguson, Staten Island, and general debate on race relations in the U.S. The incredible direction of director Ava DuVernay brings life and rawness to the history of the events in Selma and the political landscape of the Lyndon Johnson administration which carry meaning into today. The deep emotional energy has consistency through the film, which gives precision to its message, and does so within a reasonable run time that does not drag or wane in purpose.
There has been controversy over the historical accuracy of the film, which given the genre is rather important. But I don’t know if the disputed points would be major enough to warrant a downgrading of the films quality. I leave such debates for historians of the era.
“Powerful” is the best word to describe the incredible work that “Selma” is, and it is easily the front-runner for Best Picture this year.