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  • We had to see this movie after so many conflicting things were said about it. I did not go in with high expectations and was surprised to find that everything about the movie was excellent, from the casting, costumes, and sets, to the filming, script, directing, lighting effects and music. It all worked for me. I was moved and upset in all the right places, from the shocking beginning to the triumphant, and also foreboding end. The cutting in of actual film footage towards the end was welcome and not overdone or trivialized. Kind of like, let's slip the audience back into reality now. This was real. It really happened and people kept on fighting and dying for civil rights in America after the events of this movie.

    I loved it. It should have gotten more Academy Award nominations than it did. Especially for the actors who played Martin and Coretta King. I can't believe they are not even Amerian actors. Nicely done accents. The actor who played LBJ was also very good, but being from Texas I was not as convinced by his accent. If I was on the Board for the Academy Awards I definitely would nominate this movie for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress - at minimum.
  • Selma tells the story of Martin Luther King as he organizes the infamous marches during the height of the civil rights movement. To be fair, Selma is a good film. It isn't a great film, but it is good. David Oyelowo gives a great performance as MLK despite feeling like a bit of a miscast but it isn't enough to sustain interest in his character, which is shameful considering the great and brilliant man that he is portraying. All in all, Oyelowo doesn't pack the punch that we all want to see out of a MLK based film. At 122 minutes, this film wallows in cheap drama surrounded by some serious heavyweight performances, it creates an uneven balance between what is great and what is mediocre. Actor Tim Roth does great work here in portraying the ruthless and racist George Wallace. Roth delivers an evil performance that will turn your stomach with every syllable that spews out of his mouth. Roth does a great, outstanding job in making you hate him and I definitely give him high praise in this film. Another stand out performance is Carmen Ejogo, who portrays Coretta Scott King with such honesty and velocity that she's hard to ignore. Ejogo's performance is one that I continuously am thinking about even as I'm writing this. The supporting cast is huge in this film, featuring Tom Wilkinson, Cuba Gooding Jr, Giovanni Ribisi, Common and Oprah Winfrey. But just because the star power is here, doesn't mean they're all good. Honestly, the supporting cast outside of Tim Roth and Common are mediocre at best. Oprah Winfrey delivers a performance that we've seen multiple times over the course of her acting career. It is nothing new, especially because it feels she is just rehashing the same performance from last year's The Butler or from the much superior The Color Purple. Winfrey serves as more of a distraction than anything else. Common is awesome in this film in a small but crucial role to what Oyelowo's King wants to achieve. Common proved before that he can act, but here, he proves that he isn't just another rapper turned actor, he really delivers force to this film with blunt and swift justice. The screenplay here is Selma's downfall. Written by first time screenwriter, Paul Webb, it really feels like Webb's first rodeo, making classic first time mistakes between cheesy dialog and long drawn out scenes that, in retrospect, serve little purpose to the film as a whole. Despite these issues with the screenplay, it was in the most capable hands possible for this film...Ava DuVernay. While there are major pacing issues with the film, DuVernay directs this with a determined efficiency that oozes out of every second of the film. While this can't save Selma from falling casualty to a lot of cliché scenes and cheesy dialog, she does make up for all of what's wrong with the film with a handful of great performances and awesome cinematography. Overall, Selma is nowhere near the Oscar contender that I wanted it to be nor is it the biopic that a man as great as Martin Luther King, Jr deserves but Selma is a decent film that reminds me more of Spike Lee's "Malcolm X" or Lee Daniels' "The Butler" rather than last year's instant classic "12 Years a Slave". It's a good movie, nothing more, nothing less.
  • The words I best describe this movie are "profound" and "intense." From what I've learned since my school days, equal rights among race was a very touchy subject when it came to American history.

    David Oyelowo's portrayal of Martin Luther King Jr. was so spot-on that I was immediately drawn in to see every detail of the film play out. I was disturbed and further curious at the same time amongst every scene that unfolded during the key moments of the film.

    Basically, it featured how much King sacrificed and went through in the 1960s to maintain blacks rights to vote and eliminate segregation from all states. I couldn't believe how much violent injustice and racial discrimination were used to intimidate innocent people who were trying to have the same rights like many in America.

    Oprah Winfrey, Cuba Gooding Jr, and rapper-actor Common brought out great performances as the individuals who stood up for what they truly believe in and they wouldn't let hate stand in their way. Tom Wilkinson's portrayal of President Lyndon B. Johnson was rather physically uncanny and his scenes brought out the angst of what he had to face at a time when violence was further escalating during the Civil Rights Movement. Tim Roth as Governor George Wallace made me feel to hate the man for his segregationist beliefs, but when confronted by President Johnson himself, it just got real.

    The juxtaposition of real-life archive footage in the movie gave a nice touch to how very genuine these people of Selma endured plenty of horrible confrontations. Whether these usually ended in violence or even death, they just kept growing in numbers and overcome all who stood against their true beliefs in racial equality.

    My only nitpick was that of President Johnson's confrontations with Martin Luther King himself. I've learned in the history books that they've had their fair share of disagreements, but nothing this intense as shown on screen. Nevertheless, it proved that being an American President was no easy feat at a very difficult time. Overall, this is a film that didn't require lengthy (moving) MLK speeches, instead it focused on tense confrontations black people had to endure and how one individual stood tall and fought back not with violence, but with powerful words and strong beliefs. I applaud David Oyelowo and director Ava DuVernay for providing a glimpse into how racism was overcome by one profound man whose legacy still reverberates to this day.
  • Film critic Richard Roeper said it best. Selma is a film that provides a history lesson, but doesn't feel like a history lecture. Not one bit.

    I foresee a bright future for the director Ava DuVernay and actor David Oyelowo. For DuVernay's second or third effort, it's quite an achievement what she manages to do with this film. For nearly fifteen years she's been working in studio marketing and publicity and her film speaks for itself. She directs the film with flare and keeps the film emotionally grounded. Even though at times you think you know whats coming, DuVernay keeps us at bay and also provides us with some neat surprises. Also give Paul Webb some credit with his sharp screenplay.

    David Oyelowo truly embodies MLK. More often than not Selma tends to focus on something not many people tend to expect in a movie about MLK. The script showcases his doubts and insecurities. Oyelowo comes through with a deeply felt and compelling performance. He also nails Dr. King's speech patterns, voice, even his posture and shows that Dr. King has his flaws, but is a compassionate person. I find it hard that anyone will be able to take their eyes off him. What a performance. Shame that it was overlooked by the Academy.

    Everyone in the cast brings their "A-game." I liked Carmen Ejogo as Coretta Scott King, but I wanted just a little more of her character, but she makes up the most of what she has. Oprah Winfrey is solid as Annie Lee Cooper. She has a very substantial role and has a nice subplot. Other particular standouts are Tom Wilkinson as President Lyndon B. Johnson, Tim Roth as George Wallace.

    Selma takes itself very seriously, there isn't much humor to be found, and any break from documenting its events are often downbeat character moments. However DuVernay's talent is in full blaze. This film is very heavy, but it always grabs your attention, often in the hands of Oyelowo's performance. The March 7th, "Bloody Sunday" sequence is brutal to watch, but DuVernay and cinematographer Bradford Young achieve and deliver quite an intense and impactful set piece. Literally, it hits you in the gut as we watch history forged in flesh and blood.

    I am still shocked that this film received so little recognition by the Academy. Oyelowo and DuVernay should have been nominated at the very least. I believe you can blame that to Paramount Pictures as I heard that they did not deliver the screeners on time for the Academy voters. It's a pity.

    By the time we arrive at the film's postscript, revealing the fates of several people chronicled by Selma, it's almost impossible not to be moved by their courage and sacrifice. Selma to me, is not just a biopic, but rather a film that celebrates a community action through the eyes of Martin Luther King Jr. This movie sadly, could not be more relevant right now.

    9.3/10
  • Selma is a movie-of-the-week that didn't have to be. That an African-American woman, Ava DuVernay, directed this story is surely praiseworthy and a long time coming, but one wishes she'd realized the picture with more subtle strokes. Yes, there are a handful of beautifully poignant moments, some unspoken, but those are nearly neutralized by scenes where the dialog is so stilted with the weight of self-importance that ordinary folks sound like they're making speeches during private conversations.

    Visually, the desaturated sepia look of the picture confuses. Are we watching a historical document, or are we present in the moment of 1965 with its arguably more vibrant palette? Superimposed FBI logbook entries (as scene headers) cheapen the movie and bring to mind 1970s televised crime drama. In these and other production decisions, DuVernay undermines her own noble effort.

    Nevertheless, the story does move, and the inevitable violence that pushes forward the Voting Rights Act is brutal and affecting. The film's best moments come from Henry G. Sanders as Cager Lee, and between David Oyelowo and Tom Wilkinson as MLK and LBJ.
  • Last year's "Pride" brilliantly demonstrated how far gay rights have come in the UK in 30 years. Selma does an equally superb job in showing how far racial equality has come in the US in 50 years.

    The year is 1964 and racial tension is rife in the Southern states, with attacks and murders of black citizens going unpunished by the combination of a white-majority policing and legal system. Enter Martin Luthor King (English actor David Oyelowo) at the point of receiving his Nobel Peace prize. King insists at a Presidential level (with Tom Wilkinson playing Lyndon Johnson) that black citizens be allowed unfettered rights to vote in elections, with the aim of securing a more just and balanced society. Looking for a suitable location to mount a media-led stand, in an age before social networking and 'Arab-Springs', King centres his attention on the Alabama town of Selma, mounting a series of non-violent (at least on their side) protests and marches. The local redneck police chief, Wilson Baker (David Dwyer), and the state governor, George Wallis (Tim Roth), are not going to stand for this and the tinder-box reaches ignition point during a march from Selma to the state capital of Montgomery.

    Nominated for the Oscar for Best Picture (but only that in the major awards, so winning chances are probably near-zero), Selma is primarily an excellent example of an ensemble cast that works particularly well together. There are a wealth of outstanding performances: Tom Wilkinson's Lyndon Johnson comes across as a surprisingly sympathetic character (jerking me out of my natural Vietnam-coloured perception of the politician); Oprah Winfrey (also a co-producer) provides a text-book example of acting without acting, her expressions doing all of the work; Dylan Baker (so fantastic in "The Good Wife") is chillingly sinister as J. Edgar Hoover; English-born Carmen Ejogo plays (extremely well) a similar role to Sienna Miller's in "American Sniper" as the wife alienated by her husband's calling; and Giovanni Ribisi ("Saving Private Ryan", "Friends"), Cuba Gooding Jnr and (a bizarrely uncredited) Martin Sheen turn up in great cameo performances.

    But towering over all of this great acting is Oyelowo's performance which is simply outstanding: every death and injury is etched on his face. This is a Martin Luthor King that you can really believe in. I would have personally bounced Bradley Cooper in the nomination list for him, and it is astonishing (given his English background) that he was also overlooked at the BAFTAs. He must be feeling pretty aggrieved right now. Mr Oyelowo – if you are reading this – this critic thanks you for an outstanding performance.

    As a relative newcomer to direction, at least for a movie of this scale, Ava Duvernay does a great job with some of the action scenes (with particularly the shocking opening to the film showing enormous style). Paul Webb (apparently with this as a screen writing debut – – how on earth did he get THIS job?) does a creditable job, with lots of memorable sound-bites that stick in the mind. Where the film ran into soft mud for me however was in the personal scenes between the married couple: they don't really provide enough insight into the stresses of King's serial adultery, and the plotting becomes slow and dull…. I personally lost interest in most of these scenes and was desperate for the film to get back to the 'action' in Selma.

    Also of note is the end title song – "Glory" by John Legend and Common (who also stars in the film) – which is also nominated for an Oscar and won the Golden Globe.

    Both gay rights and racial equality undoubtedly still have much further to go, but this does make you proud that as US and UK societies we have come so far within my own lifetime. A recommended watch, particularly for those with an interest in sociology and/or American history.

    (If you enjoyed this review, please see the multi-media version together with more reviews at bob-the-movie-man.com and enter your email address to subscribe. Thanks.)
  • David Oyelowo played a spectacular MLK. The drama was good and it kept me entertained...like The Expendables. The movie was strongly fictionalized, unfortunately tarnishing its historical accuracy. This would have been a great movie even if it had stuck to the historical record but for Hollywood reasons (sensationalism; promoting racial discord; etc) the writer actively "reimagined" LBJs relationship with MLK to promote the idea of MLK fighting on all fronts - even against the all-powerful President who stands in his way. In fact (with plenty of recorded phone conversations, and MLKs words to back it up) LBJ and MLK worked closely in tandem to orchestrate the Civil Rights Act in '64 and Voting Rights Act in '65. This is not even debated - it's known and well recorded and understood. The fact that the film presented the opposite of the truth in this regard - for box office sales no less - is unfortunate indeed. For those who turn to Hollywood for history lessons they will see an entertaining movie but learn very little.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Director Ava DuVernay has mainly been criticized for her depiction of President Johnson as being a reluctant or obstructionist political actor. DuVernay was quoted as saying that she wasn't interested in making a "white savior movie," perhaps implying that Johnson has been given too much credit for his role in the civil rights movement. DuVernay admits that not everything in "Selma" is historically accurate, but she's entitled to fictionalize events under the rubric of "dramatic license."

    Indeed, the most compelling scenes in the film appear to be those involving Johnson's political machinations. DuVernay would like to us to believe that King and Johnson's relationship was much more confrontational than it was. Joseph Califano Jr., a former LBJ top assistant for domestic affairs, points to a recorded phone conversation between King and LBJ on January 15, 1965 in which LBJ appeared to be much more constructive than confrontational.

    However, DuVernay attempted to justify her portrayal of LBJ as a reluctant actor, citing a 2013 article by Louis Menand in "The New Yorker." Menand maintained that Johnson was not proactive after progress toward getting the Voting Rights Act passed had slowed: "Johnson had the most ambitious legislative agenda of any President since F.D.R. (his idol), and he explained to King that he was worried that Southern opposition to more civil-rights legislation would drain support from the War on Poverty and hold up bills on Medicare, immigration reform, and aid to education. He asked King to wait. King thought that if you waited for the right time for direct action (as nonviolent protests were called) you would never act."

    In DuVernay's best scene, LBJ finally "comes around" and tells off George Wallace face to face. What's so great about this scene is how LBJ attempts to appeal to Wallace on his level, even employing the "N" word to show Wallace that he's just a "good old boy" at heart. But when Wallace won't listen to reason, LBJ makes it clear that the days of the Old South are numbered.

    DuVernay undoubtedly would have liked Johnson to come around sooner and attempts to slightly steal his thunder in his famous "We Shall Overcome" speech by having him speak before a sparsely populated House of Representatives (Bill Moyers insists that the chamber was completely packed and LBJ's speech was "electric").

    The rest of "Selma" is pretty much in part, a by the numbers hagiography. DuVernay chose David Oyelowo, a British actor who starred in her earlier feature, "Middle of Nowhere," to play Martin Luther King Jr. Oyelowo is sadly miscast playing King as a grim-faced, stoic preacher, failing to convey a shred of King's warmth or humanity. For those who wish to see the definitive portrait of King, they can find it by viewing the 1978 TV Miniseries: "King", starring the sensational Paul Winfield. There is no comparison between the two performances and one can find the entire Winfield miniseries on Youtube under the films of Paul Winfield.

    DuVernay is more successful when she sticks to straightforward historical events. There's a compelling scene when Oprah Winfrey as Annie Lee Cooper is rebuffed by a racist clerk when she attempts to register to vote at the county courthouse. Coretta Scott King has little to do in "Selma" so I suppose her meeting with a seemingly muted Malcolm X proves to be her character's most exciting scene. The revelation that King was still miffed by Malcolm X's earlier claim that he was an "Uncle Tom," also proves to be quite fascinating. The two confrontations with the racist police in Selma are competently done, but I can't help once again recommending the Winfield miniseries, as the police-protester clashes there, seem more realistic.

    Except for a memorable confrontation where Andrew Young talks down a vengeful crowd of dispirited King demonstrators, the "supporting players" simply don't stand out. This is particularly evident when King is greeted by his staff at the safe house in Selma (by the way, this is about the only time you see Oyelowo smile during the entire movie).

    Eschewing a "warts and all" approach, DuVernay puts her MLK on a pedestal. There's little hint of the "family man" or charismatic leader. DuVernay unfortunately was hampered (stymied if you will) by the King family, who always demand financial remuneration whenever any of his speeches are used in fictional portraits such as "Selma." DuVernay paraphrased King's speeches, but little of it sounds spoken by the great man!

    Adolph Reed Jr. of the University of Pennsylvania implies that DuVernay "inscribes a monolithic and trans-historical racism as the fundamental obstacle confronting, and thus uniting, all black Americans." One can't but help note that DuVernay believes that there's a continuity between the protests of the civil rights era and the recent protests in Ferguson. While the Civil Rights Era was a monumental and seminal part of American history, to equate Martin Luther King's non-violent movement with the events that occurred in Ferguson, seems absurd. To my mind, MLK probably would have rolled over in his grave had he seen the pathetic and self-destructive acts by those who were caught on camera rioting in Ferguson.

    Even though murders of blacks by police are statistically extremely low, media exposure has convinced many people that this happens all the time. While African-Americans were true victims of endemic racism until the Civil Rights Movement of the 60s, the cries of victimhood today, especially in regards to "police brutality." are not clear-cut. Some police may be outwardly racist as well as "heavy-handed" or "insensitive." But recent events have also proved that some African- Americans intentionally provoke the police, leading to tragic overreactions.
  • Something, hard to define, is missing in this important film. This film takes the viewer on a journey to Selma Alabama at the crucial time of the Civil Rights movement that took place during the life of Martin Luther King. It covers the important facts, describing clearly the sad situation that people of color faced in trying to register to vote in the segregated south. Even today, the efforts by white-dominated election boards make it more and more difficult for people of color to register and make their votes in the old south. The actor playing Dr. King, in my view, is one of the serious problems this film has. He seems to do a good job, but something serious is missing. The fact that he is not an American is part of this problem. There is something artificial about his acting. It is technically sound, yet lacks some deeper presentation of the driven, inspiring personality that defined Dr. King. Perhaps the problem is in the context. We don't really see any sense of the history that lead to this confrontation. The beat down on the bridge is, in my view, poorly filmed and does very little to capture the full outrage, violence and terror of that event. Certainly this is a difficult scene to set up and record, but Hollywood is very well-equipped to do things like this. A lot has been made of the so-called snubbing of Oprah in this film. She has a small part in the beginning of the film, a scene that could have been played by anyone. The scene where she tries to register to vote, while being questioned and intimidated by a series of crazy questions from the voter registrar is very helpful in telling us what this film is about. There is nothing exceptional about her small part, so I see no cause at all for her to imagine that for such a small part she should be nominated for an Academy Award. The very idea seems really childish. A lot of facts were left out, or glossed over; so an enormous opportunity seems to have been lost. Selma is a good film about the civil rights movement, but not a great film. It is flat, the lead actors are not very interesting and the script, in particular, seems half- finished. It comes across as a rough draft of an idea for a film rather than a finished product. I was very disappointed in this film. In particular I did not like the actors playing Doctor King or President Johnson. The photography, the camera work, as well was not very good...flat and dry. Perhaps we all have inflated expectations. This is such an important and dramatic story; yet it was created and presented in a very un-inspired form with to many missing parts. The part I absolutely did not like at all in any way is the "song" that closes the film. The semi-rap composition was very disrespectful and tried much to hard to be "relevant". And the fact that it is one of the few points on which it was nominated by the Academy, as "best song" is just sad.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I went away from the screening feeling empowered to write an inspiring review of, "Selma." I was deeply moved by the image of marchers from diverse religions, black and white, standing together against injustice and inhumanity. These people risked their lives for the rights we enjoy today. And the themes are still so relevant in this time of racial discord and disillusionment with those in power.

    Then there was the controversy around the accuracy of the film's depiction of President Lyndon Johnson as a deterrent to the march at Selma. Director Ava DuVernay explained that it was her artistic vision. She suggested that people research it for themselves. After doing my own research, I found that President Johnson's involvement was not black and white. He was first and foremost a Southern politician. I believe that, "Selma," is DuVernay's honest take on the events. Her vision is to invite the audience into the spirit of the movement from the point of view of its black protagonists. It was greater than just one man. It was a community coming together to figure out the best way to accomplish their civil rights objectives.

    The movie shows how African-Americans were humiliated, threatened with losing their jobs, beaten or even killed for attempting to vote in the South. A group of civil rights activists, including Martin Luther King (David Oyelowo), decide that the best course of action is to fight for the unobstructed right to vote. King meets with President Johnson (Tom Wilkinson) to request that he pass the Voting Rights Act. But the president's goal is to keep a handle on the civil rights movement and he is only interested in uncovering King's next course of action. He claims that there is too much on his plate, including fighting poverty, to pass a Voting Rights Act.

    The activists decide to bring attention to the issue by holding a non-violent demonstration in Selma, Alabama. As the protesters kneel down before Sheriff Jim Clark, a police officer strikes an elderly man who has difficulty kneeling. When two protesters intervene to protect the man, the police respond with a vicious attack. The protesters flee, but the policemen are unrelenting in their pursuit. One young man helps his family escape into a restaurant, where they pretend to be eating. The policemen track them down and shoot the young man in cold blood. Spurred on by this tragedy, the community rallies together. They organize a non-violent march from Selma.

    When the peaceful marchers reach the end of a bridge, Sheriff Jim Clark is waiting for them. He sics his armed state troopers on the marchers. The nation watches, horrified, as the marchers are savagely beaten as white citizens cheer. Martian Luther King sends out a call to his fellow clergy to stand with him as they march again. Moved by the inhumanity, they come to show their support. It is inspiring to see black and white people from all religions joining arms and standing together.

    The reason I wanted to include the excerpt from his Montgomery speech is that it still rings true today. Martin Luther King educates the nation on how after the emancipation, the Southern aristocracy was afraid of the freed slaves organizing with the poor whites for better working conditions, so they passed the Jim Crow segregation laws to separate them. The inherent message was no matter how low the white man was, the blacks were lower. (Not unlike how our current politicians use undocumented immigrants as scapegoats, blaming them for causing the recession by taking the poor man's jobs.)

    Witnessing the inhumane treatment of the blacks at the march in Selma created more understanding of the plight of African Americans - which allowed President Lyndon Johnson to finally pass the Voting Rights Act in 1965. I hope witnessing these events will remind us of the difficult battle that was waged to achieve these rights, so we won't allow them to be taken away.

    Movie blessings! Reel Inspiration dot blogspot dot com

    I will be writing about Director Ava DuVernay in an upcoming Reel Inspiration post on "Women Directors."
  • Sploich18 February 2015
    As Cinemark's Oscar Movie Week reaches its midway point, we come to possibly the most controversial film in the running for Best Picture this year. A lot of people are confused as to why Selma was only nominated for Best Picture and Best Original Song. Frankly, I don't think it should have been nominated for either.

    First of all, from what I understand, the reason it was "snubbed" (I really hate that word, by the way) is because the studio was late in releasing its screeners to voters. It seems that most people just never saw the movie because of this and the fact that it had a sparse release in the first place. So how did it get nominated for Best Picture? I can only imagine it was word-of-mouth. People said it deserved it, so maybe voters wrote it in to give it a chance, and it just so happened to knock Gone Girl and Foxcatcher out to edge its way in.

    Selma may be the first major studio production depicting the life of Martin Luther King Jr., but there is nothing original or even remarkable about this film. It has the production value of a made- for-TV movie and the acting to match. It's better than something as abysmally idiotic as The Butler, and it's not as politically manipulative as something like Fruitvale Station.

    On the other hand, Selma is to the civil rights movement what countless religious movies are to religion. Even if it has heart and its intentions are pure, which I do believe they are, the production quality just isn't enough to make it relative or persuasive. The politicians are flat and their interactions are repetitive. The movie follows a pattern of King arguing with President Johnson (Tom Wilkinson), followed by King talking to his wife, followed by a protest, followed by King returning to Johnson. It just goes on and on like that for the duration of the film with not a whole lot being accomplished or progressing.

    David Oyelowo is not a bad actor, but he does not make an inspirational King, and virtually nothing King does in the film has any bearing on the story. The plot only moves forward when outside forces effect the situation. I feel like that's an injustice to King, to not make it more clear and apparent that what he was doing and saying was an important factor in getting to where we are today.

    Personally, I would have made a film that ended with King getting his Nobel Prize rather than opening with it. The fact is that the Selma story just isn't very interesting. If it had been the climax to a story of the entire journey, it could have made for an epic, emotional conclusion. Instead, the movie is just a drawn out mess of repetitious preaching.
  • debwen21539 January 2015
    Warning: Spoilers
    Was excited to see this movie after seeing coming attractions. The movie was sad, but way to long. The movie was also boring. The acting was good I must say. But that was it. The movie just dragged on and it was hard not to fall asleep. I couldn't wait for it to end. I wasted my money. I don't even believe it was truthful. I think Johnson supported civil rights, but the movie didn't show it that way. I didn't want to see because it was a Harpo production...but I gave in. I should have listened to my instincts. I couldn't believe the ending rap song!!!! Do they really expect people to believe this is why the idiots demonstrating in Fergosun said "hands up don't shoot"???? We are not stupid people, the truth about this movie needs to get out. That was a sad period of time, but the movie was pathetic.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    It's no doubt that Martin Luther King Jr. was one of the most influential people in the world. He fought for basic human rights, received a Nobel Peace Prize, and not only changed a nation for good, but changed the world. This film is not necessarily a biopic on iconic man, but rather a glimpse on a short period of time that focuses on the 1965 voting marches from Selma, Alabama to Montgomery, Alabama, that was to ensure that anyone, no matter your race, color, creed, or religion, could have the right to vote.

    These marches and peaceful demonstrations were well documented by the press back then and eventually led to President Lyndon B. Johnson changing the law so that everyone had to right to vote in any election without hassle. And this film 'Selma' shows us the hardships, violence, brilliance, and struggles of Martin and his followers and believers for a better place to live. It's an emotional roller coaster for sure, but with its award winning performance by David Oyelowo ('Interstellar') and great camera work, 'Selma' hits all the right notes, despite a few pacing problems.

    We start out with Martin receiving his Nobel Peace Prize, as the master of ceremonies tells us and him that the world knows and loves the work he is doing. Once back in the states, Martin heads to the White House again to talk with President Lyndon B. Johnson (Tom Wilkinson) about singing a law into effect to allow the black voters the right to vote without hassle, which Johnson doesn't do. Concurrently, while it is legal for the black population to vote, the law enforcement and people who work at the voter booths are not allowing them to vote for prejudice reasons, particularly in the South. That is when Martin and his people head to Selma to stage a demonstration until the law is passed.

    Martin picks Selma, because he knows their law enforcement are violent assholes who have no love for human life, but are blinded by hatred for something they don't know. Knowing that his followers will show peaceful demonstrations and marches, he is willing to bet that the white law enforcement will show brutal violence with the hopes of these acts of chaos will be shown on live TV for the world to see, forcing the President to make a move. His strategy worked, but not without some pain and sorrow.

    Director Ava Duvernay shows us just how horrible and violent these marches were, and it's hard to watch in certain moments as we ask ourselves, "Were we really capable of this?" And we quickly think, "Yes, and it still goes on today." The main issue I had with 'Selma' was that were too many moments that slowed the film down due to a long shot of someone looking intense into the camera or into the wide open. I get why these moments were there, but it seemed to happen after each scene. But it's a minor complaint in an otherwise excellent film.

    David Oyelowo plays Martin Luther King Jr. flawlessly. Not only do we see his strengths in speeches and rallying people for good, but we also see his internal struggle with his family and own willingness to carry out his life's work. Oyelowo definitely deserves some awards for this role. Thee rest of the cast including, Tom Wilkinson, Tim Roth, Common, Carmen Ejogo, Giovanni Ribisi, Oprah Winfrey, Keith Stanfield, Wendell Pierce, Martin Sheen, and Cuba Gooding Jr. all turn in amazing performances. 'Selma' is a powerhouse of a film and stays with you long after you see it. Don't miss this film.
  • DavidSherwyn8 December 2014
    Many times, films of a historical nature are hard to appreciate, as in most cases one knows the story and the outcome. All our lives we have read, heard of and some even experienced the efforts of Dr. Martin Luther King. There are many hours of footage, countless recounts of his modus operandi and volumes of writings that give insight into his minds. However, this film delves deeper than the King Jr. of Black History month, and gives you an experience with his humanity as a man.

    Selma is quite possibly, the most powerful film ever to be made. It is very hard to describe with words, however, after leaving the theater I was obviously affected greatly by the depiction of the story behind the march from Selma to Montgomery. Director, Ava Duvernay, does an amazing job of capturing, what she refers to as, "small moments" that allows you to connect to the King Jr. character on a very intimate level. During a screening of the film, she spoke to this saying, "I knew that by doing a movie on King, we would have to do speeches, and early on I obsessed about the speeches. However, when I got on set, I began to focus on how to best capture the small moments that showed King's humanity."

    In the film, King Jr., portrayed by David Oyelowo, experiences many emotions, not generally associated with the civil rights activist, including guilt, shame and defeat. Oyelowo does a masterful job of bringing these emotions to light in the most subtle way. When asked about his preparation for the role, he responded, "I always knew I would portray King Jr. I studied him, read and watched all of the video I could. I had been fortunate enough to play opposite of one of my acting idols, Daniel Day Lewis in Lincoln and see him take on the role as he did, so I did the same for King Jr. For three months, I became him. So much so that one night while looking in the mirror, I only saw King Jr., this may sound crazy, but I could not see myself."

    Other strong performances include Oprah Winfrey as civil rights activist, Annie Lee Cooper. Carmen Ejogo as Coretta Scott King, Andre Holland as Andrew Young, Lorraine Toussaint as civil rights activist, Amelia Boynton, Stephan James as John Lewis and Trai Byers as James Forman.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Selma, might not be in the running for any 2015 Academy Award categories, but the snubbing, wouldn't stop the film from being a captivating portrayal of the Selma to Montgomery march of 1965, when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (David Oyelowo) led a dangerous campaign to secure equal voting rights in the face of violent opposition. Seeing this play out on film was indeed a great watch. With an array of wide shots and gliding camera-work, under gospel and melancholy score, director Ava DuVernay delivers. You really get how the admired leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and his followers prompted change. Oyelowo really digs deep in the role of M.L.K. He play King with a wide acting range; from being grand speaker of sermons, to him, playing the quiet defeatism when it come to confronted by his wife, Coretta (Carmen Ejogo) about his infidelity or his misjudgment when it comes to how the Civil Rights, should be run. A scene where the lively group sits down for a home-cooked meal even show a charming human side of Martin Luther King Jr, that's rare to see. It was great to see, Oyelowo overcome, years of being typecast as the over the top angry black man in these racial dealing movies. I was really glad, that Oyelowo fought very hard for 7 years to get the role of King, and found a way to get his biggest critic, Lee Daniels, the original director attached, off the project, because, in my opinion, I found Lee Daniels to be a really horrible director. Most of the supporting characters were pretty great in their roles. This movie allows Carmen Ejogo to play Coretta Scott King, a second time and she just as good as her performance in 2001's TV Movie, 'Boycott'. The historical accuracy of the film's story has been the subject of controversy, particularly with regard to Tom Wilkinson as President Lyndon B. Johnson and his relationship with King. The film portrayal of Johnson is indeed, less flattering than it should be, accusing the president for being a time-wasting political leader that allow the FBI to monitor and harass King, on his watch. Maybe, there is some truth to that, but I really like how Tom Wilkinson portray him as a very complex character with way too much political problems to handled, at one time. Tim Roth as Governor George Wallace was wonderful. I love the tense scene between him and LBJ. Still, there were some characters that didn't get much of film time. In Depth examine of characters like Viola Liuzzo (Tara Ochs), seem to missing. The movie end credits, makes it seem like she was a big character in the film, but you rarely see that. I like Oprah Winfrey's bit part in the film as Annie Lee Cooper. It seems like she was a big part of the film, but she rarely mention, toward the end. Other mainstream actors like Cuba Gooding Jr. as Fred Gray and Dylan Baker as J. Edgar Hoover should had been cut out of the film, because they couldn't act, even in their short scenes. Even big historical characters like Malcolm X (Nigel Thatch), seem lost in the odd pacing of the film. We see him, talking to Coretta, about joining the movement, and its leads to nothing. Later in the film, King mention that he was assassinate, a few weeks early, but there was no scene with him, getting whacked off. There was little to no reason, why he was brought in the story, because his character play so little to the Selma movement success. DuVernay's movie structure is indeed, bit off. The movie make it seem that the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing of 1963, happen during King receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. I know, Ava DuVernay did this for a story telling stand-forth, and it kinda works, but for anybody that know history. These small changes can be, a bit jarring. While, the movie isn't a documentary, and I'm willing to take artistic license. I just thought, maybe they could had patch up, some of these gaping holes and make it a lot focus driven film. Racism is difficult to depict on screen. Even at its most realistic, it can seem cartoonish in modern context. At times, the movie seem a bit harsh when portraying White Southerners. I really doubt, that they're all racists. The film makes it seem like the good whites folks came from the North, all to support, the Civil Rights movement, after seeing the brutal attacks at that Bridge. That's hardly the truth. There were a lot of White Southerners followers within MLK's group even before that event. Overall: Some people think this film was just create to stir the already tense race issue, since recent events like the Trayvon Martin, Oscar Grant and Michael Brown's shootings have put people already on the edge. Because of movies like this is why there is so much racism in society because animosity never goes away. Certain black groups will be always eyeful and paranoia. White people will feel unwanted, and feel with guilt. We get it already. Racism is bad. Yes, a lot of movies feature black actors, focus way too much on the race card. There are other issues, black people go through. The subject that's never brought up which is more relevant is class. Racism is tied to classism. I think the movie kinda hints at that. So, it get some credit. While, this movie on the surface, seems like throwing fuel in the racial-tensions fire. I glad that films like this exist. Even if it's not teaching you anything new that you don't already know. They help people know, about their history and encourage them to more positively impact their future through an attitude of compassion and a reverence for change and progress towards equality in a peaceful matter. This is one of the movie's greatest strengths and why it's a must-watch.
  • If you are looking for entertainment about the civil rights era (a real challenge if you know anything about the civil rights period), and you have no problems with the historical revisionism of the movie, then this is a film you might like. Although I find the idea of making an entertaining film about one of the ugliest periods of American history a fool's errand, I guess the director is entitled to make the attempt to entertain us. . On the other hand, given that the subject matter of the film is the pivotal, dramatic, and violent clashes involving the racist political structures of Selma and Alabama, and the key players of the civil rights movement, one would think that the directory and screen play would capitalize on these dramatic historical events in a compelling retelling of this part of American history. They failed to tell history truthfully. . I had heard about the problems in the portrayal of LBJ in the film, but I didn't realize that historical time lines were also tinkered with for dramatic effect.

    *** SPOILER ALERTS ***

    The film starts with Coretta and Martin just before his Nobel award in October of 1964, and then the second scene jumps back more than a year to September of 1963 and the "16th Street Baptist Church bombing" where 4 young girls were killed (there is no subtitle to clue in the audience that these scenes were more than a year earlier). They used his 1964 Nobel speech to juxtapose against events that appear to happen at the same time.

    It was clear right from the beginning that the writer and director were not interested in historical accuracy, they were interested in creating their own mythology around historical events. The historical inaccuracy characterizing LBJ as dead set against civil rights and voting rights for blacks is proof that the makers of this film have an agenda to lionize and then canonize MLK. The problem I with the film makers is that don't have to lie about the facts to convince us that MLK was a great man.

    In conclusion, if you are looking for entertainment, there are a lot of other popcorn films that are far better. For history on the civil rights era, better check out the PBS documentary series "Eyes on the Prize" (1987 six one hour episodes) and the follow up second season in 1990 of eight one hour episodes).
  • Warning: Spoilers
    While a powerful story on paper and having been told better in other films, Selma is well acted by all (although Common looked very awkward and out of place) this film had no umph to it. It was an equal plateau that never finds its peak and ends without power. A great example of a trailer creating an idea of a film being action packed and full of conflict while the actual film is heavy laden with dialogue and undeveloped relationships. It's not a wonder why it was 'snubbed' for Oscar nominations. The John legend/Common song is also ridiculous considering the rest of the film is properly set in its period while this song is so modern it takes you out of the movie. Entertaining film yes but not worth the rush to theatres.
  • clark-andy10 February 2015
    I saw some reviews of this movie that varied quite a bit, which should have been a warning. Have you noticed how, generally speaking, a movie's rating starts of as 'x' and then declines gradually before settling down? is this because a brand new movie is exciting but later when it isn't new the ratings become more accurate? This movie is difficult to rate as the subject matter is so interesting; I was about 18 when it all happened so remembered it pretty well. The problem is that so much of the content is a series of conversations set in a rather murky background (to make it look like 1960s?). Many/most of the conversations are frankly rather tedious... so much so that I actually fell asleep for short while, somewhere in the middle of the movie. I was never quite sure what they were trying to tell me about the relationship between MLK & his wife..some bits of the movie good, most of it not so good.

    To sum up, pretty disappointing.
  • The unforgettable true story chronicles the tumultuous three-month period in 1965, when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led a dangerous campaign to secure equal voting rights in the face of violent opposition.

    The epic march from Selma to Montgomery culminated in President Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965, one of the most significant victories for the civil rights movement.

    Director Ava DuVernay's "Selma" tells the story of how the revered leader and visionary Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and his brothers and sisters in the movement prompted change that forever altered history.

    Yeah. Only this is a history re-write.

    And it's not a very good movie. Nor is it main stream. It caters to the far left and black audience which means it won't make any money. And the fact that this movie was made despite it's eventual monetary loss to the studio. Isn't enough for the likes of Al Sharpton.

    This movies screens like a TV film.
  • Some of the darkest and saddest pieces of our history often make for the most compelling and powerful films of the year. Such is the case with Selma which takes us back to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960's led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, showing us the tragic strife that the African American community was put through. Selma focuses specifically on the voting rights movement where Dr. King and his followers led an historical march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama to peacefully protest Alabama's segregated voting rights in order to obtain equality across the voting board. It's a startlingly relevant film that explores a time in US history many would prefer to forget, and one that challenges us to look at our modern day society and draw some disturbing connections.

    Admittedly it is a little bit sad that a film about civil rights can still have so much relevance in 2015, but such is the way of prejudice and bigotry in all of its ever changing forms. Selma does a fantastic job at making this fight as real and accessible as possible, highlighting this struggle on a personal level for King and his associates. These events were well before my time, but as far as I know this film paints a very realistic picture of the time, from the look of the sets, the costumes, and the emotions and tensions filling the air.

    At the end of the day, though, it's the portrayal of Dr. King that drives this film home. David Oyelowo is a powerhouse that carries this film with a startlingly accurate representation of the reverend; one that is filled to the brim with passion and poise, while also breaking down the larger than life illusion that surrounds the man, and bringing him down to earth as the very real and very flawed human being he actually was. His controversial decisions are touched upon in the film, as well as his infidelities which truly bring him to the human level.

    It's a damn good thing that Oyelowo can carry this film, too, as the emotional prowess of the story relies solely on him. Selma is packed with a great supporting cast with everyone from Tom Wilkinson to Tim Roth to rapper Common, but there is no denying that all these supporting players play second fiddle to Oyelowo. If Oyelowo is at a 10 as the lead of the film the rest of the cast sits at an 8 across the board with no one character getting a lot of attention as the focus consistently remains on King. I would have liked to see some more attention turned towards the supporting cast, but with a biopic on one of the most influential names in American history you almost have to expect this.

    Selma highlights a grim portion of our history, one so grim that it needs to be immortalized in film so that we don't forget the troubled history we came from. This is an incredibly important film about an incredibly important man. It's not something you watch for entertainment value and not something you watch over and over again, but it is something you need to watch to gain some highly accurate perception of a crucial time in history it is imperative we never forget.
  • This movie had a great cast, great story, and was very entertaining and well written. David Oyelowo, although a tad inconsistent early on, elevated to another level when he transformed before your eyes to a dynamic and vulnerable Dr. Martin Luther King, JR. Toward the end of the movie, his performance was so strong, if he was not actually shown on the screen, you couldn't tell if if was an old recording of MLK or David Oyelowo himself.

    As for the story, yes, it was not "historicly accurate," but it flowed well and Ava DuVernay and Paul Webb did a wonderful job of making it family friendly, which is very hard to do with such a sensitive subject. I would compare it to Disney's "Remember The Titans" on how they changed the story to make it more entertaining and also family friendly.

    Overall, I would highly recommend this movie. It did a great job of showing me a bit of the past that was before my time and I am grateful for that experience.
  • Once one gets used to the fact that the film of the original events in Selma, Alabama, is more interesting than this fictionalized piece, it starts to become a disappointment. The young man who plays Martin Luther King, Jr., does a decent job, but there is something lacking. When we hear speeches by King, there is a power to his delivery. Something is missing here. While a British actor plays King and he does great with a southern American, his delivery lacks the punch. What makes the movie worthwhile is the portrayal of the marches, all three of them. The first is so graphic in its violence as those marshals block the area on the other side of the bridge. Also missing is lively dialogue among the leaders of the movement. They are so stiff where they should be fighting among each other, expressing their fears and bringing us into the process. Lyndon Johnson is seen as the bad guy (along with, of course, George Wallace), but his portrayal is stilted. Where is that Texas accent. He is so impressed in our minds. There should be more bluster and casual dominance in this figure. While this is a decent rendering of a major event in the development of man's quest for freedom, it falls a bit flat.
  • .. will call you racist.

    All kidding aside, the country is racial fatigued, between thugs like Trayvon, Michael Brown, the whole Ferguson riots, the thugs murdering of two innocent cops in new york, and so on.

    Now this movie comes out, as a yearly reminder that any bad behavior on the part of blacks is forgiven, excused, and condoned because of the ancient past...and even the song "Glory" has references to Ferguson. Really, Oprah? Tying Selma to Ferguson only lessen and cheapens the entire movie.

    I for one feel no guilt what so ever about the 50s and 60s, and neither should you. Think for yourself.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    WARNING SPOILERS BELOW!!!!

    The movie Selma has very little to do with Martin Luther King Jr., and more to do with Hollywood trying to orchestrate how Ferguson and other future protest should be carried out!

    And Oprah suggested this a week before Selma opened when she said that the Ferguson and U.S. wide spread protesting lacked leadership and a detailed plan as to what they wanted the outcome to be.

    Then, the movie Selma is released! Oprah is a part of the Hollywood, Government controlled media that wants to transport this country back to 1950's mentality.

    They want looting, cop killings, whites and blacks hating each other and fear! Movies like The Butler, 12 Years a Slave, The Help all have the racially tense material that takes one back to a time of hate and ignorance and racial intolerance.

    There are about 35 of these types of movies coming out between 2015-16. One has to wonder why we are going backwards. It is all intentional. Don't fall for it people! Selma was clearly an attempt to race bate.

    They didn't even bother trying to make Martin Luther King Jr. interesting in the movie! We learned nothing of his personal life, no humor, no depth of spirit, and there was absolutely NO chemistry between King and his wife in the movie.

    The movie also introduces important characters and never explains to the viewer who they were! And, the movie has no one in it portraying the Rev. Jesse Jackson!

    Why is this important? It is important because Jackson was a key part in Kings life and particularly his last days, up to the fatal shot on the balcony.

    The Rev. Jesse Jackson has said that while taking his last breath, Martin Luther King whispered to him to carry on for him and take his place.

    There are those who have researched Kings death and there is very credible proof that the Rev. Jesse Jackson was a part of the plot to kill King! The reader is urged to look up Steve Cokely, and his very detailed video research on the murder of Martin Luther King Jr.

    The movie also skips past the deaths of Kennedy and Malcolm X, no footage, nothing! It's as if the movie Selma was made strictly to capitalize off the racially tense times we are experiencing in the U.S. now, and to play that one line about Ferguson in the rap song as the movie credits begin to roll!

    I mean, as soon as the movie ends, we hear the word Ferguson! What kind of blatant mind control campaign was this!

    And all this talk about who should be nominated for Oscars for this is also campaigning. They want you to start parroting the mess so you feel like you're in with the in-crowd that thinks the movie is hot! Don't fall for it.

    A movie about the life of Selma Blair would be more interesting than Selma! And oh yes! When the viewer gets to the scene concerning the Selma march, you will be so angry at how they direct, wrote and act it out, you will want to scream!

    In the end, you realize, the movie Selma, had nothing to do with Selma, or King!!!!!!!

    It really will angry you off! If you want a superior, realistic, well acted, well written movie and performance about Martin Luther King, you need to get "King" staring Paul Winfield.

    And again, even in this superior version, there is NO Jesse Jackson!!!!! Why?
  • Sorry to sound negative when we are only a week away from black history month, but I'm about black history-ed out. Hollywood BS. I'd rather see a George Washington Carver documentary than the recent string of white- bashing movies. 12 years a slave, the help, selma, and on, and on. I don't care that your great-great-grand was treated unfairly by a rich white guy. We aren't all related and I really don't care, sorry. My ancestors probably weren't treated that great either, boo-hoo. It's like seeing Inglorious Bastards, Schindler's List, and Diary of Anne Frank all in one sitting. It's just TOO MUCH. Eventually, you're hoping Hitler wins just to stop the Hollywood BS.(not really but it is too much).
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