head head head
Home Contact RSS Feed
Movie Review: Selma
Adam Frazier   |  @   |  

Selma movie review

Director: Ava DuVernay
Screenwriter: Paul Webb
Cast: David Oyelowo, Tom Wilkinson, Carmen Ejogo, Tim Roth, Oprah Winfrey, Common, Lorraine Toussaint, Wendell Pierce
Paramount Pictures
Rated PG-13 | 127 Minutes
Release Date: January 9, 2015

Directed by Ava DuVernay (Middle of Nowhere, I Will Follow), Selma is the story of a movement. The film chronicles the explosive three-month period in 1965 when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (David Oyelowo) led a campaign to secure equal voting rights in the face of violent opposition. The march from Selma to Montgomery culminated in President Johnson (Tom Wilkinson) signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965, one of the most significant victories for the civil rights movement.

Selma isn’t the first film about the civil rights movement, nor is it the first to feature Dr. King. What makes DuVernay’s film special, however, is that it doesn’t depend on the stereotypical white savior to rescue people of color from their plight. Films like Mississippi Burning, Ghosts of Mississippi, and To Kill a Mockingbird explore segregation, racism, and injustice for African Americans, but always with the help of an idealistic white person.

Selma is the first major Hollywood movie to focus on the blood, sweat, and tears of the African Americans that made the movement happen. Finally, blacks are the heroes in their own story. Yes, there are white people – like James Reeb and Viola Liuzzo – who make the journey to Selma to support King’s cause, but the triumph of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 is a direct result of the sacrifices made by Black Americans.

Selma Movie Review by Adam Frazier

Annie Lee Cooper (Oprah Winfrey), James Bevel (Common), Bayard Rustin (Ruben Santiago-Hudson), Hosea Williams (Wendell Pierce), James Orange (Omar Dorsey), and Amelia Boynton Robinson (Lorraine Toussaint) were instrumental in the movement – and for the first time on film, we are seeing their influence.

There’s been a lot of controversy about DuVernay’s film – that it plays fast and loose with the facts – but it’s all blown out of proportion. If there’s a villain in Selma, it isn’t LBJ – it’s Sheriff Jim Clark (Stan Houston), Governor George Wallace (Tim Roth), and the countless ignorant white folks who stood in the way of progress. Wilkinson’s Johnson is just another savvy politician who doesn’t share King’s sense of urgency on the voting issue. He’s got other fish to fry – like Vietnam – but he isn’t portrayed as a monster.

This whole “controversy” is nothing more than a smear campaign – an attempt to knock Selma out of contention for Oscars so Harvey Weinstein can shove another stiff, not-so-great British biopic (The Imitation Game, aka 2014’s The King’s Speech) down our throats. Before you feign outrage at the so-called “historical inaccuracy” of Selma, witness its power – its boldness – and its remarkable performances.

Selma is one of the best pictures of 2014. It is without question the most powerful film of the year, and an extremely relevant work that shows how far we’ve come, and how far we still have to go in order to live in a society that fully embodies King’s ideals. Oyelowo is captivating – a performance that deserves Best Actor and belongs alongside the great portrayals of historical figures in cinema.

Forget the controversy – see Ava DuVernay’s gripping, challenging movie because it takes a historical icon and makes him a real man with flaws and faults. After the screening I attended, blacks and whites gathered in the theater lobby to comfort each other – everyone was in tears. What a commanding and potent film that it could inspire actual catharsis – it shows just how important and powerful cinema can be at the times we need it most.

Selma opens nationwide on Friday, January 9th.


Follow Me on Twitter!


  1. The reason there are whites in these films that give crucial help to the plight of black americans is that it was fundamental to have the help of the so called white devil in a so called white devil dominated country.

    To suggest otherwise is to… Ummm Demonize the White Devil.

    Some white people just don’t get it.

    Comment by Midas68 — January 10, 2015 @ 8:55 pm

  2. Ironically, Johnson’s policies and initiatives did more to erode and destroy black family structure than anything, and worked to create many of the pathologies that haunt African-American life today. There are “civil rights” factions around today who, I am convinced, actually long for there to be a contemporary Jim Clark or Bull Conner. They need these as justification for their race-baiting lives.

    Comment by ratonis — January 18, 2015 @ 10:00 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment

Previous Article
Next Article
You may have noticed that we're now AD FREE! Please support Geeks of Doom by using the Amazon Affiliate link above. All of our proceeds from the program go toward maintaining this site.
Geeks of Doom on Twitter Geeks of Doom on Facebook Geeks of Doom on Instagram Follow Geeks of Doom on Tumblr Geeks of Doom on YouTube Geeks of Doom Email Digest Geeks of Doom RSS Feed
The Drill Down Podcast TARDISblend Podcast Westworld Podcast
2023  ·   2022  ·   2021  ·   2020  ·   2019  ·   2018  ·   2017  ·   2016  ·   2015  ·   2014  ·  
2013  ·   2012  ·   2011  ·   2010  ·   2009  ·   2008  ·   2007  ·   2006  ·   2005
Geeks of Doom is proudly powered by WordPress.

Students of the Unusual™ comic cover used with permission of 3BoysProductions
The Mercuri Bros.™ comic cover used with permission of Prodigal Son Press

Geeks of Doom is designed and maintained by our geeky webmaster
All original content copyright ©2005-2023 Geeks of Doom
All external content copyright of its respective owner, except where noted
Creative Commons License
This website is licensed under
a Creative Commons License.
About | Privacy Policy | Contact