A quick look at this year’s Academy Award nominees for Best Picture…
Synopsis: The first major film about Martin Luther King Jr. takes place in 1965 during the heated months leading up to the signing of the Voting Rights Act, when peaceful protests and marches in Alabama were met with violence and police brutality.
Total nominations: 2 (picture, original song)
Directed by: Ava DuVernay
Starring: David Oyelowo, Tom Wilkinson (two previous nominations), Tim Roth (one previous nomination), Carmen Ejogo
Why it deserves to win: Ava DuVernay’s drama is nicely paced, beautifully shot and impeccably acted. She managed to revive the musty biopic genre with a movie that’s as focused as it is emotionally charged, and that alone could give the movie an edge. But the fact that her subject is so historically important — not to mention overlooked by Hollywood — should make “Selma” the obvious choice. The Academy also owes her, considering she was egregiously overlooked for a best director nomination, and David Oyelowo, who plays King, also failed to get a nod.
Why it won’t win: Although all of the historically based best picture nominees have come under fire for playing fast and loose with the facts,”Selma” (and “American Sniper”) received an inordinate amount of the backlash. The fact that the movie’s only other nomination is for best song also doesn’t help.
Ann Hornaday’s review: 4 stars
“‘Selma’ carries viewers along on a tide of breathtaking events so assuredly that they never drown in the details or the despair, but instead are left buoyed: The civil rights movement and its heroes aren’t artifacts from the distant past, but messengers sent on an urgent mission for today.”
Box office as of Feb. 17: $48.4 million domestic; N/A worldwide