Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)

Political Drama Worth Awards

Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)

Political Drama Worth Awards

Article excerpt

Byline: Geoffrey MacNab The Independent

SELMA is a rousing political drama, made with enough verve and passion never merely to seem didactic.

Its near complete absence from this year's Oscar nominations is baffling and suggests a double standard.

It is difficult to fathom how Steven Spielberg's Lincoln (2012) received 12 nominations when Selma has limped in with only two, for Best Picture and Original Song.

Both are studies of great American leaders at pivotal points in their political careers.

Both are exceptional films and boast uncanny central performances.

Whereas Daniel Day-Lewis won the Academy Award for playing Lincoln, his fellow British actor David Oyelowo's portrayal of the African-American civil rights leader hasn't even secured a nomination.

As Selma begins, Dr King is about to accept the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo. It is late 1964, a year after King's celebrated "I Have a Dream" speech. He is uncomfortable at being feted in luxurious surroundings while many of his fellow African-Americans are unable to vote.

Back in the US, Annie Lee Cooper (Oprah Winfrey) turns up at her local courthouse to try to have her name put on the electoral roll. The court clerk mocks her. First, he asks her to recite the preamble to the Constitution. (To his chagrin, she does so.) Then, he demands she tell him how many county judges there are in Alabama. Again, she has the answer, but he is able to humiliate her and send her away by telling her she needs to be able to name them all.

Even more shocking is the slow-motion recreation of the 1963 church bombing in Alabama that killed four African-American girls.

There are tensions within Selma that are never fully resolved. On the one hand, director Ava DuVernay is trying to stay true to "history".

The main incidents here are well documented; many happened in the public eye. …

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