Add on the disgraceful exploitation by race hustlers and Leftist politicians of the events in Ferguson, MO and NYC which led to riots in the streets and chants for the deaths of cops which ultimately led to two NYPD officers assassinated while sitting in their car and it wouldn't be hard to wonder what happened to Dr. King's dream.
Into this poisoned atmosphere comes Selma, the dramatization of King's protest which led to the 1965 Civil Rights Act, which received only two Oscar nominations (Best Picture and Best Song, which perpetuates the damnable lie about Ferguson which is "Hands up, don't shoot.") prompting yet another round of race-warrior exploitation as Al Sharpton demanded an audience with the Academy under threat of his leading a riot at the ceremony. In this environment where everyone seems to have an axe to grind what's been sadly overlooked is that Selma is actually a quite good movie that most people won't see because they resent being bullied by the Leftist race-warriors who will never in a million years get within sight of King's ideals. (I'm sure Dr. King is looking down at this nation and thinking, "I died for this? That President? That wicked preacher? All that violence and division?")
Rather than do the full-life biopic thing, Selma just concentrates on the few months in 1965 leading to the march on Selma, Alabama which led to the Voting Rights Act. King (a should've-been-nominated David Oyelowo) and his sidekicks are looking for specific town where the conditions would be right for the local racist idiots to take the bait and Selma's sheriff is just the guy for the job. Beatings and deaths ensue, but justice is attained.
What I found most interesting about Selma's portrayal of the events is something I haven't seen mentioned in all the hoohaw over the Oscars: That King was using the media to provoke outrage to the conditions blacks were enduring in the South. In one scene he asks the local organizers if the sheriff was like one in Albany (Georgia, I presume) who gently carried away protesters on stretchers for months or like Bull Connor, the Birmingham lawman who turned dogs and fire hoses on the protesters and made the media, the point being that King sought to get his followers abused on camera. When they make their first march on the courthouse, he and the leaders stand behind those getting their heads cracked, flinching, but never interceding.
It's also refreshing to see the others involved in the movement and their opinions about strategy given time. Rather than make King out to be Infallible Black Jesus to whom all looked for guidance, there are frequent doubts as to whether his strategy and tactics are appropriate, even from King himself as people start dying. His philandering is addressed in a scene where it's made to look as if LBJ ordered J. Edgar Hoover to send Coretta wiretaps of King's antics, which has been challenged for authenticity in the specifics, while the general fact of King's womanizing has been downplayed to protect the myth.
While there have been the usual criticisms of historical accuracy - most critically the idea that LBJ was dragging his feet when transcripts of phone calls showed he was very supportive of King's goals - the overall tone of Selma rings fairly true. (UPDATE: Here's a good breakdown separating fact from fiction.) The uproar over the "snubs" is more a matter of racial entitlement (X amount of nominees MUST be of color) and grievance-mongering than acceptance that not everyone gets nominated (HALF of the Best Pictures didn't have their directors nommed starting with Clint Eastwood) and the director, Ava DuVernay, simply didn't finish the film in time for screenings. No one is outraged over Angelina Jolie's genetically-engineered-for-Oscars Unbroken being passed over for all but a few technical categories.
Finally, what's with all the English actors? The top roles - Oyelowo, Carmen Ojogo (Coretta), Tim Roth (Gov. George Wallace), and Tom Wilkinson (LBJ) - are all Brits making this the most non-Southerners-playing-Southerners thing since True Blood.
If you've been avoiding Selma because you're tired of the race warrior agitation that we've been pounded with for over a year, you're denying yourself an above-average biopic which manages to avoid the cheap shots and leftist tilt (other than the terrible song) that has encrusted its awards prospects. Check it out.
Score: 8/10. Rent it.