Selma. 2014. USA. Directed by Ava DuVernay. 122 min.
Towering figures stand on the shoulders of many, and in Ava DuVernay’s remarkable second feature we witness a moment in history where one man’s greatness is lifted up by the courage and sacrifice of a community and, ultimately, a country. Though he is a pivotal figure in the history of the United States, there have been relatively few cinematic explorations of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life and work. David Oyelowo’s breathtaking incarnation of King is a revelation, and no narrative film has so richly succeeded in illuminating the critical network of colleagues, activists, and admirers that enabled his successes. Highlighting the intimacies and heartbreaks of his marriage to Coretta Scott King (Carmen Ejogo) and the covert war waged by the U.S. government against the civil rights leader, Selma joins a short list of essential films about American history. Courtesy of Paramount Pictures.