Selma’s biggest problems are two-fold: its pacing, which is a little on the slow side, and that much of the film feels like it’s lacking a memorable score – it’s as if there are long periods of silence backing the scenes, sapping some of the life out of the historical drama. Trim a little fat and bring Hans Zimmer on board and you’ve got a Best Picture contender without question. The thing is, notwithstanding these, Selma already is nominated for Best Picture at the 87th Academy Awards!
That’s right, despite its issues, Selma, a retelling of Martin Luther King’s determined campaign to march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965 to secure equal voting rights, is a gripping, soulful and occasionally brutally confronting true story that’s as topical now as it was 50 years ago. Leading the film is David Oyelowo, who gives a grandstanding performance as the title character. Compelling from beginning to end, Selma, for better and worse, lacks the fanfare of more expansive (and expensive) biopics to bring in the masses. Selma instead focuses on a very specific event, giving it sharp focus on heavy subject matter. It’s therefore interesting in an academic and documentary sense, at its best eliciting an emotional response to the barbaric prejudice on display. One can’t help but wonder how far we’ve really come in the years since that epic march.