Selma. 2014. Rated PG-13. 128 Minutes. Starring David Oyelowo, Carmen Ejogo, Tom Wilkinson, Tim Roth, Common, Giovanni Ribisi, Oprah Winfrey, Niecy Nash, Lorraine Toussaint. Directed by Ava DuVernay.
Oscar Best Picture Nominee
A chronicle of Martin Luther King's campaign to secure equal voting rights via an epic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965. [IMDb]
Nicole: 1965. 2015. With recent events in Ferguson and Staten Island...one could say not all that much has changed in fifty years time. But, I must be careful in painting this picture with such a broad brush. For, in doing so, I dilute Dr. King's message...his hard work...his legacy. Still, I wonder what he would make of today's headlines after so many years of progress: one step forward, two steps back.
elizabeth: I think this country’s collective soul has to rise each day and ask how can they make the lives of all the people who live here better. I think that was the essence of Dr. King. Knock us down. We shall rise again. I think what resonated most with me is that we lost Martin Luther King decades too soon. Like an artist, he was not done with his masterpiece. If you were brought up with a B&W TV, you saw what was going on in this country in the South. You saw men and women being beaten and hosed, you saw the body of a young boy who whistled at a pretty girl and you heard the cries of the families whose little girls went to church but never came home. It was a very scary time in this country, but we had the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. leading us out of the darkness.
Nicole: Selma begins with MLK receiving the Nobel Peace Prize juxtaposed with the horrific church bombing that took the lives of several black children. MLK may have won the prize for peace, but came home to an America that was anything but peaceful. Selma depicts King's efforts to make change in the blockage of black voter registration in a small Alabama town. A series of small civil disobedience measures lead to an eventually successful march from Selma to Montgomery, the seat of hate manger George Wallace's governance. It is a chilling retelling of one of the most important civil rights movements in American history.
elizabeth: Two things haunted me while I watched Selma. The first thing was that I was ashamed to be white. I know I didn’t do anything to the people of Selma, but my race was so repugnant in their behavior to people who just wanted to live their lives and raise their families. I was ashamed. The second thing was the creative telling of the relationship between King and LBJ. I know it made for more tension (like living in Selma and surroundings areas weren’t stressful enough), but Lyndon Johnson was on board for the Voting Rights Act and he worked to see it pass. An opportunity was lost to show two powerful men; one black, one white, coming together to foster change. I love the idea that corporations are paying for kids to see this very important movie, but they will grow up believing a Hollywood distortion.
Nicole: Personally, I'm no fan of President Johnson. He deserves credit for passing the Voting Rights Act (which they reference in the film) and for making an impassioned speech that helped progress the Civil Rights Movement, but he was a horrible and notorious bigot who played politics to his own advantage. He was no Kennedy; that's for sure. Regarding the performances, Oyelowo is remarkable as Dr. King. Not a trace of his English accent can be detected. His cadence and delivery is so very like King's, it's a wonder he didn't snag an Oscar nomination...a tremendous oversight on the part of the Academy. So, too is Ejogo's performance as Coretta Scott King captivating. At times, her likeness was so uncanny, it was jarring. Hers was a tempered, quiet, yet strong portrayal that deserved recognition. I'm really perplexed by the decisions made this year.
elizabeth: Who cares who gets nominated for an Oscar? Okay, I do. But, we make it seem that a performance is diminished because of a bunch of old white men who voted for the nominations. Let’s just be glad that Oyelowo and Ejogo brought the Kings to life on the screen. I want to thank David Oyelowo for bringing Dr. King to all who see this movie. I want kids to want to be like this man of quiet courage. I want them to work for peace and equality. Screw the Oscars.
Nicole: This movie is required viewing... As a people, we seem doomed to repeat history. Perhaps the more we educate ourselves, the less complacent we will become...and just maybe refuse to make the same mistakes.
elizabeth: Maybe if we stop killing the peacemakers we can talk about real change.
The Film Fatales give SELMA