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89

Universal acclaim - based on 46 Critics What's this?

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7.1

Generally favorable reviews- based on 300 Ratings

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  • Starring: , , , , , , , ,
  • Summary: In 1965, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (David Oyelowo) leads a dangerous campaign to secure equal voting rights in the face of violent opposition. The march from Selma to Montgomery culminates in President Johnson (Tom Wilkinson) signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965, one of the mostIn 1965, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (David Oyelowo) leads a dangerous campaign to secure equal voting rights in the face of violent opposition. The march from Selma to Montgomery culminates in President Johnson (Tom Wilkinson) signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965, one of the most significant victories for the civil rights movement. Expand
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Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 45 out of 46
  2. Negative: 0 out of 46
  1. Reviewed by: Calvin Wilson
    Jan 8, 2015
    100
    Oyelowo takes full advantage of his close physical resemblance to King, but he wisely avoids mere impersonation, delivering a performance that’s as sensitive as it is spellbinding.
  2. Reviewed by: Stephanie Zacharek
    Dec 23, 2014
    100
    With Selma, DuVernay has pulled off a tricky feat, a movie based on historical events that never feels dull, worthy, or lifeless; it hangs together as a story and not just part of a lesson plan. The movie is at once intimate and grand in scope.
  3. Reviewed by: A.O. Scott
    Dec 24, 2014
    100
    Even if you think you know what’s coming, Selma hums with suspense and surprise. Packed with incident and overflowing with fascinating characters, it is a triumph of efficient, emphatic cinematic storytelling. And much more than that, of course.
  4. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Jan 3, 2015
    88
    Like "Lincoln," written by Tony Kushner and directed by Steven Spielberg, DuVernay's Selma ushers us into the world of the backstage, back-room and back-scratching political process, dramatizing how the sausage was actually made.
  5. Reviewed by: Steven Rea
    Feb 2, 2015
    88
    Selma may be flawed, even spurious at points. But in its larger portrait of a man of dignity, purpose, and courage, and in Oyelowo's performance as that man, the film rings true.
  6. Reviewed by: Bob Mondello
    Dec 26, 2014
    80
    The film's timing, in short, could hardly be more resonant. And DuVernay's most remarkable accomplishment may be that with such passion inspiring material, she has made such a measured, resolute and levelheaded film.
  7. Reviewed by: Steve Rose
    Dec 8, 2014
    60
    Unimpeachably important, ambitious in its scope and handsomely presented, it has all the hallmarks of a trophy winner, for better and worse.

See all 46 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 61 out of 76
  2. Negative: 13 out of 76
  1. Dec 25, 2014
    10
    It was magnificent! Director Ava DuVernay, short film director, really outdone herself! David Oyelowo as MLK, everything about this film asIt was magnificent! Director Ava DuVernay, short film director, really outdone herself! David Oyelowo as MLK, everything about this film as great! Well done! Expand
  2. Feb 7, 2015
    10
    There are moments in “Selma” when I felt like I was watching Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (played brilliantly by David Oyelowo) himself speakingThere are moments in “Selma” when I felt like I was watching Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (played brilliantly by David Oyelowo) himself speaking on screen. Moments that made me want to clap my hands and stand up and cheer in approval of what he was saying. Moments when I was having to hold tears back. And these moments have stayed with me a couple of days after watching the film. These moments prove how timeless the story and issues are that “Selma” presents to us and although it would be difficult not to get these across, “Selma” does so in a way unlike any other biopic.

    David Oyelowo, a British actor, is fantastic and it is an absolute scandal that he has not been nominated for the Best Actor Oscar this year. Perhaps the Academy is still tapping themselves on the back for giving “12 Years a Slave” the Best Picture Oscar last year. When Oyelowo is making those speeches that King made to the Selma black clergy it was like I was watching King in the flesh. Oyelowo looks and sounds like King, effortlessly capturing his manner, grace and style and arguably most importantly his faith. Oyelowo simply pioneers the film in regards to performances, obviously helped along by the fame of his real-life counterpart, the other actors and actresses in the film simply revolve around him. This is especially obvious in the scenes where we get to see King and his colleagues deciding how to proceed in Selma. These backstage scenes seem just like how they would have been, providing an interesting viewpoint considering there isn’t a lot of material detailing what happened. In these scenes King’s colleagues also shine through, Colman Domingo (playing Ralph Abernathy) and Wendell Pierce (playing the Rev. Hosea Williams) are both worth mentioning for their performances. These scenes though do not focus on King and thus do well to emphasise that he was both not alone nor was a God of sorts, but just simply a great man, making him even more relatable and deserved of my sympathy.

    Of course “Selma” is a true story and the film sticks to it throughout ultimately doing it a perfect kind of justice. The fact that the film chose Selma as what it was going to cover was a good choice. There was the “battleground” that King decided to use as a means by which to end the struggle blacks had experienced in regards to registering to vote. It’s ultimately the moments which have been well documented that are where the film thrives, “Bloody Sunday” for example. But where the film begins to waver is in its half-hearted commitment towards King’s personal life and I believe this comes from how we obviously know less about King’s personal life then what we know about him as leader of the Civil Rights Movement. It’s those scenes where we see King giving speeches or leading the marches through Selma which are the film’s best, whereas the hypothesised conversations between King and his wife, and meetings between the C.I.A. director J. Edgar Hoover and President Lyndon B. Johnson really bring the film out of focus.

    “Selma” though is ultimately the best biopic I have ever seen. Although I’ve mentioned that King’s personal life for me got in the way of the film, you have to see “Selma”, not only because of how, as critic Richard Roeper put it, it’s a film that provides a history lesson but certainly doesn’t feel like a history lecture, but also because of how the film finally grants King the cinematic justice he deserves with a brilliant performance by Oyelowo.
    Expand
  3. Jan 2, 2015
    9
    One of the best civil rights movies I've ever seen. Chilling, emotional and important. David Oyelowo is remarkable, as is Ava DuVernay in theOne of the best civil rights movies I've ever seen. Chilling, emotional and important. David Oyelowo is remarkable, as is Ava DuVernay in the director's chair. Expand
  4. Jan 17, 2015
    8
    "Selma" has strong performances and stands as a fascinating story rather than just a standard biopic. It's nice to see a film on such an"Selma" has strong performances and stands as a fascinating story rather than just a standard biopic. It's nice to see a film on such an important part of US history done in a way that avoided being worthy or over-sentimental. Very watchable and well worth it, especially for audiences that enjoy solid dramas. Expand
  5. Jan 12, 2015
    7
    The movie was not about the entire civil rights movement but about one specific period in Selma Alabama. Well acted but slow -- too muchThe movie was not about the entire civil rights movement but about one specific period in Selma Alabama. Well acted but slow -- too much detail. The movie could have been 30 minutes shorter. That being said it was a good movie to see -- entertaining and educational. Expand
  6. Jan 13, 2015
    6
    I was really looking forward to this film. While the facts may be correct, the story told drags. While some of the performances are good , itI was really looking forward to this film. While the facts may be correct, the story told drags. While some of the performances are good , it was more of an okay what's next. Expand
  7. Apr 19, 2015
    0
    Drivel... Terrible movie, Thelma and Louise is better. Bad directing, Bad acting, now I know why people didn't go see it. Another HollywoodDrivel... Terrible movie, Thelma and Louise is better. Bad directing, Bad acting, now I know why people didn't go see it. Another Hollywood libtard forced movie. Expand

See all 76 User Reviews

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