With my annual Oscar predictions, I make it my mission to watch all of the current year’s nominees for Best Picture and then write a review on it. Unfortunately, I was unable to see Selma before the Oscars. Which is a shame since this was one of the best picture nominees I wanted to see the most. But over the weekend, I was finally able to see a matinee of the film. Though I couldn’t review the movie before the Oscars, I will still keep the promise of writing a review of the film. So here is my review of Selma, the biopic of civil rights activist Martin Luther King.
As the film begins, King (David Oyelowo) is receiving the Nobel Peace Prize for his non-violent campaign for civil rights. It’s 1965, and President Lyndon B. Johnson (Tom Wilkinson) has signed the Civil Rights Act. Johnson wants King’s help to promote his war on poverty campaign. But King isn’t done yet. Even though segregation is illegal, the south is still depriving African American of basic dignities, especially the right to vote. So King will begin a campaign for equal voting rights. With a group of fellow civil rights activists, He sets up his campaign in Selma, Alabama where there was a bombing. Of course he meets with violent opposition, especially from Alabama Governor George Wallace (Tim Roth), who’s attitude toward civil rights can be perfectly sums up with his “Segregation Forever” speech. King also has FBI head J. Edgar Hoover (Dylan Baker) spying on him and listening to his phone calls.
To be more accurate, this is a biopic that only focuses on King’s equal rights campaign. There seems to be a growing trend of biopics only focusing on one moment of the subjects’ life. While previous biopics try to bring as many of the person’s highlights as possible, there are a few biopics that take place on one major event in the person’s life. While it has been successful in films like Lincoln, it has mostly been a major disaster with films like Diana, Grace and Hyde Park in Hudson. Fortunately, Selma fits in the former category. The problem with the bad biopics is that the events aren’t that interesting.