I love movies. I love writing about them. Hope you like reading what I write.
So many people, including myself, have been making fun of the old formula for Academy Award success in the acting category, in recent years. What you need is a story about a dead, famous underdog who stood up for some form of conviction despite difficulties coming from their inner demons and the society they hope to challenge. If the lead could change their appearance and/or voice, the statue is guaranteed.
And yet, this movie about the attempts of Dr Martin Luther King Jr to perform a march with his followers in the town of Selma, Alabama in 1965, while it ticks all the criteria, has been refused nods for its acting.
This is especially confusing here, considering David Oyelowo gives the best performance I have seen this year. Don’t misconstrue me. Eddie Redmayne, Channing Tatum, Michael Keaton, Benedict Cumberbatch and Bradley Cooper* were wonderful in their respective performances (I have not yet seen Mr Turner). But Oyelowo takes it to a whole new level here. I am not the greatest expert on the man he plays, but I saw Dr King in his every breath.
King is portrayed in what feels like a very real light. The man, by all accounts was a humble, decent human being who believed that enough was enough and the concept that all men are created equal was a very real concept. On the other hand, he was still a man and he did not always hold the entire situation under control. This film makes all this strength and weakness abundantly clear.
Selma is not Martin Luther King: The Movie, however. This is a showcase of the immense bravery and pride of the black community of America. It is a testament to the gall they had to show during a major turning point of the movement that they spent years fighting for. A far more powerful message than could be shared by going through Dr King’s entire life.
The movie shows that this struggle was and continues to be very much an uphill climb and that there can never be one single victory that would make everything fine in the country. This message comes at the most appropriate of times, when a black man is in the White House and yet there are reports of police officers still practising discrimination on the streets.
An extremely touching aspect of this gorgeously shot movie is the focus on the people in this situation who never made headlines. The best scene in the entire picture focusses entirely on this very thing.
Another strong point is the portrayal of Coretta Scott King by Carmen Ejogo. She gets across the pain of being in love with an occasionally hurtful man who is putting both their lives and their children, at risk for their right to self-determinate. This is a strong female character. I finally got one this week!
All in all, this is an excellently written, wonderfully acted, beautifully shot and superbly realised film about standing up and being counted.
*Interestingly enough, all these men portrayed real people, arguably including Michael Keaton playing himself!
Recommended Scenario: When you want to learn about the true heart of an extremely important moment in relatively recent history.
If what I have written tells you that you would like this film, you can book tickets to see it at your local Cineworld here.