Starring: David Oyelowo, Tom Wilkinson, Carmen Ejogo, Wendell Pierce, Oprah Winfrey, Tim Roth, Giovanni Ribisi, Common, Cuba Gooding Jr, Tessa Thompson, Niecy Nash, Alessandro Nivola, Stephen Root, Dylan Baker, Martin Sheen
Directed By: Ava Duvernay
Selma had me from its explosive beginning through to the very end. Last year, 12 Years A Slave was the great historical epic about a real life black hero, and this year Selma is a great historical epic about a real life black hero. I’m giving Selma the edge, as I think it is a better film. I think 12 Years A Slave dealt with heavier issues, and also featured a few really stellar performances, but Selma is better directed and better written. It also, thanks to the issues arising in Ferguson, and increasingly across the country, feels timely. It features a message that seems even more urgent this year than it did last year.
Heading the film is David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King Jr. Not only does actually kind of look like King, but he really embodies him. I’ve never been a bigger fan of Oyelowo. I guess you could say I found him a bit overrated before. When he was getting “awards attention” for The Butler, I rolled my eyes. I get it now. Oyelowo has arrived. He absolutely deserved an Oscar nomination this year, and it’s a shame that he was left off the list.
The supporting cast, mainly Ejogo, Wilkinson, Winfrey, and Roth, really do keep the film afloat, along with just a fantastic direction from Ava Duvernay. Duvernay has a bright future ahead of her.
Only two Oscar nominations? This film deserved better. It’s an epic movie about hope, and about doing the right thing. It features a time in our lives when a lot of people weren’t sure what “the right thing” was, and a lot of white people were assholes. It’s also really the first MLK biopic, and therefore, an important cinematic achievement, and one that everyone should experience. In case you were confused by my rather short review, Selma is definitely one of the best films of the year.
FINAL GRADE: A