Selma Solidifies Status as One of Best New Movies of 2015

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Alexandria Anderson, A&E Editor

Never in my life have I actually sought out a way to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. As the holiday rolled around each year, I enjoyed the fact that I had another day to procrastinate doing my homework, but rarely did I sit down and actually think about the reason I had the day off.

Like most people, when I think of Dr. King, the first thing that pops into my head in his famous, “I Have a Dream” speech. I see him as a man who gave one of the greatest speeches on equality in history; a man with a Nobel Peace Prize tucked under his belt. So often do I only think of his achievements that I sometimes forget about the characteristics that made him such a martyr for peace.

Selma, released on Jan. 9, does an outstanding job of portraying King as not only a humanitarian working towards equality, but as a real human being with human emotions that everyone can relate to, regardless of their race or class.

Set in Selma, Alabama, the movie opens up with King as he prepares to receive his Nobel Peace Prize. Instead of only focusing on his achievement of winning the award, the movie perfectly encapsulates the nervousness King feels as he prepares to accept the prize. This scene really resonated with me, as I, too have felt nervous before speaking in public. Granted, I was not giving a Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, but it was nice to be able to even slightly relate to  the emotions of a person who is regarded so highly in society.

After accepting his prize, the movie follows King as he plans a march from Selma to Montgomery in order to attain voting rights for African-Americans. Throughout the film, actor David Oyelowo beautifully breathes life back into King. A perfect embodiment of the Civil Rights activist, Oyelowo portrayed King so well that it made me feel as though it really was King on the screen, not an actor’s depiction of him.

Oprah Winfrey also makes an appearance in the movie as one of the film’s more recognized faces, adding to the plot an intensity and strength that could only come from Winfrey herself. Her character, as well as many others, gives an added air of human emotion to the struggles faced by the people willing to fight for the rights they deserve.

All in all, I could not recommend this movie highly enough. Despite the grandeur of the struggles King faces in the movie, he also goes through extremely personal hardships involving his family and his moral obligation as a leader of the Civil Rights Movement, truly giving a face and a name to the man behind the speech.

Well-liked by viewers and critics alike, Selma received an 88 percent approval rating from viewers and an overwhelming 99 percent approval from critics on Rotten Tomatoes. Although it was only nominated for one category in this year’s Academy Awards ballot– a bit of a shock to me–I have high hopes that those who have seen Selma were able to recognize its true value in our society today, regardless of how many nominations it has received.

The struggles for equality are not just something to be forgotten when the movie ends. With scenes of police brutality and severe racial discrimination, the movie, although placed in the 1960s, holds relevance in today’s society. The justice King so desperately wants in the film is still being sought after today. It is through movies like this that we can continue to hope for and perpetuate the work towards eventual justice for all races.

So when Martin Luther King, Jr. Day comes around next year, take some time and think about what you really have the day off for. The ideas King fought for are not too far off from the ideas we continue to fight for today.