“Selma” is full of powerful imagery that we’d like to pretend never happened but have a responsibility to pass on from generation to generation. This film tackles this dark chapter in American history with tact and honesty. While it has been met with criticism for its inaccurate portrayal of Lyndon B. Johnson, director Ava DuVernay sends a powerful message of equality through this story. The single factor that makes this a great film is the acting of David Oyelowo. His portrayal of Martin Luther King, Jr. is magic. The tone of his voice is a bit higher than King’s but the cadence of his speaking is so accurate that you would think that it was King himself. It is hard to believe that this actor naturally has a British accent. It is unfortunate that Oyelowo was majorly snubbed by the Academy and I am positive that he would've earned an Oscar nomination (and probably won) in a less competitive year. His speeches after the death of Jimmie Lee Jackson and at the end are absolutely chilling. The other notable performance comes from Tom Wilkinson, portraying the tough position of the president when he’s caught in the middle of a very public debate. There are several other big names in the film but the sheer number of characters allows many of them to only appear for a scene and then disappear. I find the film’s nomination for Best Picture to be appropriate, but I also understand why it wasn’t nominated in any other major categories. Its script doesn’t stand out as being anything too special and the other aspects of the film recreate 1964 Alabama without being flashy, but the true magic of “Selma” is Oyelowo’s on-screen manifestation of Martin Luther King, Jr. It is as if King walked out of the history books and onto the screen to once again share his powerful message of equality.
[Pictured: You would think that David Oyelowo is a long-lost relative of King]