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Staff & contributors

, 2014

The award-winning third feature by director Ava DuVernay, Selma, was released around the 50th anniversary of the historically significant marches (Selma to Montgomery) that aided the civil rights movement's efforts to assure African-American citizens can exercise their constitutional right to vote, harassment-free. The film has been celebrated not only as an artwork, but also as a historiographically accurate one. While it features the role Martin Luther King Jr. played in the marches, it does not reduce the activists' effort and struggle to make it come to fruition. With her uncompromising directorial approach, DuVernay crafts a thrilling period film that has all the markers of a well-done genre feature, but uses its mechanisms to tell an emotionally potent story about both the peaceful marches and the nation-wide outcry resulting from the violence they were met with.

Genre: Drama, History

Actor: Alessandro Nivola, Andre Holland, Carmen Ejogo, Charity Jordan, Charles Black, Colman Domingo, Common, Corey Reynolds, Cuba Gooding Jr., David Dwyer, David Oyelowo, Dylan Baker, E. Roger Mitchell, Giovanni Ribisi, Greg Maness, Harry Belafonte, Haviland Stillwell, Henry G. Sanders, Jeremy Strong, Jim France, Jody Thompson, John Lavelle, Kent Faulcon, Lakeith Stanfield, Ledisi, Lorraine Toussaint, Martin Luther King Jr., Martin Sheen, Michael Papajohn, Montrel Miller, Niecy Nash, Niecy Nash-Betts, Nigel Thatch, Omar J. Dorsey, Oprah Winfrey, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Sammy Davis Jr., Stan Houston, Stephan James, Stephen Root, Tara Ochs, Tessa Thompson, Tim Roth, Tom Wilkinson, Tony Bennett, Trai Byers, Wendell Pierce

Director: Ava DuVernay

Rating: PG-13

With the tried-and-tested music and lyrics of Brenda Russell, Allee Willis, and Stephen Bray, this film adaptation of the Color Purple musical was practically guaranteed to have power in its key moments. And with a cast that includes tremendous vocalists like Fantasia Barrino and Danielle Brooks (both of whom had previously played their respective characters on stage), the film's most important sections possess an energy and soul that allow its protagonist to dream of something beyond her dire personal circumstances. However, after a while, this movie begins to feel like it's only ever made up of isolated scenes without the proper build-up nor the right pacing to earn the movement from one episodic moment to the next. Even with the dynamite chemistry between cast and score, the film's odd staging and blocking constantly get in the way of what should be something incredibly emotional.

Genre: Drama, Music

Actor: Aba Arthur, Adetinpo Thomas, Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor, Charles Green, Chase Steven Anderson, Ciara, Colman Domingo, Corey Hawkins, Danielle Brooks, David Alan Grier, David Vaughn, Deon Cole, Elizabeth Marvel, Emana Rachelle, Fantasia Barrino, H.E.R., Halle Bailey, Jamaal Avery Jr., Jeffrey Marcus, John L. Adams, Jon Batiste, L. Warren Young, Louis Gossett Jr., MaCai Arrington Griffin, Phylicia Pearl Mpasi, Stephen Hill, Tamela Mann, Taraji P. Henson, Terrence J. Smith, Tiffany Elle Burgess, Whoopi Goldberg

Director: Blitz Bazawule

Rating: PG-13