The opinion that the famously white, wealthy and male Oscar committee are favourable towards historical films that might alleviate their guilt about being white, wealthy and male is a well trodden path. Martin Luther King biopic Selma obviously fits the bill perfectly.
In the past we have had the powerful (In the Name of the Father, Schindler’s List), the boring if well acted history lesson (Lincoln), the forgettable lead performance in an otherwise solid film (12 Years a Slave) and the downright Oscar bait shit (The Help). So in which camp does Selma fall? Unfortunately there are arguments for all of them.
There is no doubting that their are powerful moments throughout Selma, but considering the subject matter that is par for the course. There are also long stretches where not much is happening. As with 12 Years A Slave, the support cast is good, particularly Tom Wilkinson as president Lyndon Johnson, but aside from the admittedly electrifying speeches, I found David Oyelowo as MLK a little bland and lacking in emotion. I am sorry to add as well, that director Ava DuVernay, chooses to forego letting the gravitas of the story provide the emotional wallop, in favour of a completely out of place and totally rubbish power ballad for the climatic scene. It is cringe inducing and quite frankly embarrassing.
Selma is by no means a bad film but it’s two Oscar nominations are perhaps generous.