Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Alternate Best Actor 2014: David Oyelowo in Selma

David Oyelowo did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite being nominated for a Golden Globe and a BFCA, for portraying Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma.

Selma is a fine film about Martin Luther King's attempt to secure voting rights for African Americans in Selma, Alabama.

David Oyelowo plays Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. the sort of figure that could easily be only simply lionized like the way Stephen Hawking was for the most part in The Theory of Everything or the way Louis Zamperini was in Unbroken. One of the strongest elements of Selma is that it actually avoids this and Oyelowo's performance contributes to this greatly. Oyelowo does something very interesting in his depiction of King in terms of his vocal performance. Oyelowo gets the essence of his sound down, but what is most interesting is the way he shows the way King's speech differs considering the audience. When King is speaking in public or merely to people he has not yet been introduced to Oyelowo actually delivers every line as if he is giving a speech, putting almost an excessive degree of careful diction. Oyelowo by doing this suggests well that to a certain extent King does purposefully build up the ideas around himself, and that he does need to actively be the great man so many view him as.

When he is at home or with only his close associates Oyelowo effectively changes his speech pattern that is more fitting to just a normal man. It technically is more natural in that it seems more like how someone would normally speak, and Oyelowo just with the way he delivers his lines establishes that King is not merely just an icon for his movement he is a man as well. In terms of being the icon though Oyelowo is terrific. Oyelowo is one of the performances where he does exude the essence of the real life figure so well, that even if his performance technically is not a 100% perfect imitation, it feels as though it is. He never simply seems to be aping King, but importantly we always see The most important scenes may be the various speeches that King delivers throughout to rouse the people to action. Oyelowo is outstanding in every speech particularly since he smartly differentiates every one that he gives. There is not a single purpose technically for every speech, and that can be seen through the ways that Oyelowo's manner changes for each.

In his initial speech to the people of Selma, Oyelowo completely commands the screen as he should, this is a constant with every speech that he delivers. His first though Oyelowo keeps it directly as a tactical speech to basically activate the people to the cause. Oyelowo delivers it with a striking passion and pivots nicely in points with a discontent in certain points to get the people to stand up wanting to take back their rights. His speech after one of the people is murdered Oyelowo effectively changes the style to something more personal and rather than the anger being projected to incite the crowd, this anger seems to come from deep within. Oyelowo still keeps it an impassioned speech but more vicious as he expresses the personal disgust of King at the extreme actions taken against his movement. His final speech in the film is again fantastic as he takes on a less confrontational and more of a triumphant tone. There is a strong and rather powerful spiritual bent in Oyelowo's delivery and signifies the victory through his jubilant performance.

Of course King's work is not only about speeches though and an interesting thing about the film is bluntly showing basically the mechanics of their activism. There is a plan in the protest and their is a purpose in King's moves. Oyelowo is good in being the leader as well and again does well to not portray this as a single side. In the scenes with his inner circle Oyelowo does portrays some exasperation fitting for a man who has been at his work for as long as he has been, his heart still is in it to be sure, but Oyelowo does suggest the wear of the life upon him. On the other hand when he goes to speak with some of the activists local to Selma Oyelowo plays these scenes with a different style. He instead does create a bit of an act as he puts on King as absolutely a leader who puts his everything into his task. Oyelowo shows King as almost excessively direct as he lays out his plan to the men, as though he is in absolute charge of the situation and knows exactly what is coming. Again Oyelowo is great by creating the actual effort in King's campaign.

Some of his most remarkable scenes are at home with his family and wife Coretta (Carmen Ejogo). Oyelowo here is very compelling the way he actually presents King to be a somewhat cold figure and that the weight of his life has been detrimental to his home life. There is a strong distance between King and his family as almost you can see how his life rarely has been preoccupied with his family. What might be his very best scene in the film is when he is confronted by his wife over King's affairs with other women. Oyelowo is outstanding in the scene as he portrays King as almost shriveled to nothing in his guilt. His reaction is striking because Oyelowo shows that King knows he has done wrong, and that there is no explanation he can truly give. What perhaps stands out most is though Oyelowo does show a palatable shame in King, there is something about it in that he does not quite apologize even though he recognizes what he has done. Oyelowo does not portray King as a man who will reform himself in this behavior, rather as a man who is pained by this fault, but cannot change himself from these ways.

David Oyelowo gives a fascinating portrait of King by never making him some sort of legend. Oyelowo in a way he earns the victorious moments for King all the more by presenting the challenge. There is the scene where he turns back from the march, and Oyelowo does suggest that fear may be part of his motivation in that moment. Oyelowo makes it all the more powerful when the courage does come as he presents as something earned, not simply something that was always in him as though he was an otherworldly figure. Oyelowo reconciles the human weaknesses with the resilience and ambition in the man. David Oyelowo gives a great performance as Martin Luther King. He embodies the man as he should in terms of physical manner as well as his passion. Oyelowo does not stop there and does not just leave him as an image of King. Oyelowo bothers to go deeper with his performance realizing the man behind the icon, while still being absolutely convincing in creating the man who could be an icon.


Michael McCarthy said...

Truly great work from Oyelowo, and this coming from someone who thinks most of of his past performances ranged from average to awful.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

Brilliant performance. Honestly, he might be my top choice. It defies the usual mimicry and mannerisms of biopic performances.

Ramon Gawlitta said...

Oyelowo should've been nommed for The Butler, a powerful performance.
I expected more from him. His interpretations of Dr. King's speeches were powerful and heartfelt. The soft moments didn't have me convinced. The inconsistency is noticeable.

Regarding du Vernay's omission, I wasn't aware of anything special that she did as a director, except for the profound scene of the slaughter on the bridge.

I don't think it's racism or sexism; she just didn't measure up.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

He was easily the best part of The Butler by a wide margin, but this blows that performance out of the water.

luke higham said...

I can relax from now on, Oyelowo was amazing in my view.

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

Thoughts/ratings on the rest of the cast besides Wilkinson and Ejogo?

Brilliant work.

Michael McCarthy said...

Honestly I think his work in The Butler was fine enough but not memorable, it doesn't even touch this performance.

luke higham said...

Michael McCarthy: I thought he gave a decent performance in The Butler, although didn't have much of a chance with Lee Daniels over sanitized direction.
Actors from ethnic minorities, especially of African Descent, hardly ever get opportunities like this on a regular basis, although Brits like Oyelowo & Ejiofor, have greater chances to succeed because of training of the highest quality.
Also, I'd like to add, that some people should lay off Cumberbatch for the comment he made, which infuriates me, since he, obviously was in favour of Diversity, and even Oyelowo, thought the media response was ridiculous.

luke higham said...

It feels so good knowing that the ratings for everyone apart from Gyllenhaal in Enemy, are a foregone conclusion. I felt a bit nervy about McConaughey & Oyelowo's reviews and I still hope for an in depth analysis of Tatum's performance in Foxcatcher.

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

Why is everyone so sure Gyllenhaal isn't going to get a 5, I mean Louis seems to love these sort of twin performances, Nicols Cage in Adaptation and Jeremy Irons in Dead Ringers. :D

luke higham said...

GDSAO: I'm not ruling it out, I personally would give him a 5, but Louis hasn't even Seen Enemy yet and he was the only request, so he ended up in the spot Tatum would've had if it weren't so and I honestly believe he's getting a 5 as well, so that makes it 11 or 12 fives overall for the year, with bonus rounds still to come.

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

@Luke: That is true, I don't think Louis is going to be that lenient but hey, I've been wrong before!

What are your top 10 performances of the year again Luke, in each category? Sorry if you've posted them before.

RatedRStar said...

Louis and everyone else, who do you all think came closest to getting Oscar Nominated in voting, like who you reckon finished 6th place.

luke higham said...

Male Lead
1. Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler - 5
2. Guy Pearce in The Rover - 5
3. Michael Keaton in Birdman - 5
4. Joaquin Phoenix in Inherent Vice - 5
5. Tom Hardy in Locke - 5
6. Brendan Gleeson in Calvary - 5
7. Philip Seymour Hoffman in A Most Wanted Man - 5
8. Ralph Fiennes in The Grand Budapest Hotel - 5
9. Matthew McConaughey in Interstellar - 5
10. David Oyelowo in Selma - 5
Other 5s go to Tatum, Spall, Cage, Waltz and Gyllenhaal in Enemy.

Female Lead
1. Essie Davis in The Babadook - 5
2. Marion Cotillard in Two Days, One Night - 5
3. Jessica Chastain - The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby - 4.5
4. Julianne Moore in Still Alice - 4.5
5. Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl - 4.5
6. Gugu Mbatha Raw in Belle - 4.5
7. Felicity Jones in The Theory of Everything - 4.5
8. Emily Blunt in Edge of Tomorrow - 4
9. Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 - 4
10. Amy Adams in Big Eyes - 3.5

Male Supporting
1. Gary Poulter in Joe - 5
2. J.K Simmons in Whiplash - 5
3. Michael Fassbender in Frank - 5
4. Josh Brolin in Inherent Vice - 4.5/5
5. Edward Norton in Birdman - 4.5
6. Richard Armitage in The Hobbit: The Battle of The Five Armies - 4.5
7. James McAvoy in X-Men: Days of Future Past - 4.5
8. Toby Kebbell in Dawn of The Planet of The Apes - 4.5
9. James Corden in Into The Woods - 4.5
10. Zach Galifianakis in Birdman - 4.5

Female Supporting
1. Lindsay Duncan in Birdman - 4.5
2. Naomi Watts in Birdman - 4,5
3. Emma Stone in Birdman - 4.5
4. Amy Ryan in Birdman - 4.5
5. Rene Russo in NightCrawler - 4.5
6. Andrea Riseborough in Birdman - 4.5
7. Eva Green in 300: Rise of an Empire - 4.5
8. Jessica Chastain in Interstellar - 4.5
9. Imelda Staunton in Pride - 4.5
10. Mackenzie Foy in Interstellar - 4

Worst Performances
1. Kiefer Sutherland in Pompeii - 4 Wiseaus
2. Marco Perrella in Boyhood - 1
3. Marton Csokas in The Amazing Spider Man 2 - 1
4. Jamie Foxx in The Amazing Spider Man 2 - 1
5. Kellan Lutz in The Legend of Hercules - 1
6. Cameron Diaz in Annie - 1
7. Karen Gillan in Guardians of The Galaxy - 1
8. Johnny Depp in Into The Woods - 1
9. Orlando Bloom in The Hobbit: Battle of The Five Armies - 1.5
10. Mark Wahlberg in Transformers: Age of Extinction - 1.5


luke higham said...

GDSAO: I forgot about Nick Krause in Boyhood, he'll be my fifth worst.

Louis Morgan said...


The rest of the cast plays into a reservation I have for the film. That, unlike say Pride, the film does not do a great job of differentiating the activists. The performances are uniformly solid but none of them can stand out since they all just are in the background until they are given their one speech.

The only people who stood out more were simply because they are more familiar faces such Roth, Sheen, Gooding Jr., and Oprah. They actually were a tad distracting especially Oprah, who contributes to the single worst moment of the film (that slow-mo close up of her being put the ground).



#9 - Foxcatcher I must assume, although it could have been Nightcrawler.


#6 - Eastwood since they loved American Sniper and he did get DGA.


#6 - Jake Gyllenhaal just as easily could have been Fiennes though, that's one set of totals that I would like to have seen.


#6 - Jennifer Aniston likely still had her base of support, but it just was not strong enough to get in.

Supporting Actor:

#6 - Uhhhhhhhhhhhhh....Steve Carell?

Supporting Actress:

#6 - Rene Russo as I think Nightcrawler's support was just on the fringe of creeping in. It's shame it was not able to.


#6 - Gone Girl. The academy clearly did not care for the film but she probably was still close.


#6 - Mr. Turner perhaps.

Anonymous said...

Have you seen Joe, Louis? And if so, what are your thoughts and ratings for Cage and Sheridan?

luke higham said...

Anonymous: I've asked Louis, on quite a few occasions and he still hasn't seen it, it's best waiting till the overall ranking.

RatedRStar said...

Oh one more thing Louis, what you reckon to the Southpaw picture of Jake, that picture alone has me excited to think that Jake could be in Oscar contention so quickly after Nightcrawler.

Louis Morgan said...


Well with Fuqua you don't know what way it's going to go, although I'm interested in Gyllenhaal's performance no matter what.

In fact these days his mere presence in a film has me intrigued, well except for Nailed...I mean Accidental Love...well actually that is intriguing for a whole different reason.

luke higham said...

Louis: Accidental Love was filmed 7 years ago, so I hardly think, it's going to be any good, especially when it was directed by David Douchebag O'Russell.

Louis Morgan said...

Yeah I know, that's what makes it so intriguing

luke higham said...

Louis: Can you give a No Guts, No Glory prediction on the Lead Actor Nominees for Next year.

luke higham said...

Louis: Or to clarify further, who do you think will be nominated a year from now.

Louis Morgan said...


Jake Gyllenhaal - Demolition (I'd say this is his horse due to Vallée)

Michael Fassbender - Steve Jobs

Leonardo DiCaprio - The Revenant

Ethan Hawke - Regression

Liam Neeson - Silence (If it makes it out last minute like Wolf did)

RatedRStar said...

The fact that Gyllenhaal and Fassbender have two potential contenders this year leads me to believe that I am 100 percent certain one of these 2 men will be nominated =D.

luke higham said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
luke higham said...

Louis: Dicaprio's the most likely, Neeson could be Co-Lead or Supporting, Personally, Fassbender has a better chance with Macbeth, than with Jobs, having such a troubled process over the past couple of years. Gyllenhaal can go for either Southpaw, Demolition or even Everest, I'll postpone my judgment on Ethan Hawke's Chances, and Put McConaughey in Sea of Trees and Bale in Knight of Cups, as more likely alternatives for the moment.

RatedRStar said...

I think these would be my 5 for the moment for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor so far, obviously early days but it is fun to think.

Best Actor
Michael Fassbender - Macbeth or Steve Jobs
Jake Gyllenhaal - Southpaw or Demolition
Tom Hanks - St James Place
Leonardo DiCaprio - The Revenant (Winner)
Liam Neeson - Silence

Best Supporting Actor
Tom Hardy - The Revenant (Winner)
Andrew Garfield - Silence
Ken Watanabe - Sea Of Trees
Gary Oldman - Child 44
Brendan Gleeson or Ben Whishaw - Suffragette

RatedRStar said...

Actually I will swap Neeson and Garfield around.

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

@luke: I know you didn't ask me but here's mine for the acting categories

Best Actor
Johnny Depp in Black Mass
Tom Hanks in St James Place
Leonardo Dicaprio in The Revenant
Jane Gyllenhaal in Southpaw
Tom Hardy in Child 44 or Legend
Possibility: Christian Bale in Knight of Cups

Best Actress
Jennifer Lawrence in Joy
Carey Mullion in Suffragette
Rooney Mara in Carol
Cate Blanchett in Carol
Natalie Portman in Jane Got a Gun

Best Supporting Actor
Woody Harrelson in Triple Nine
Tom Hardy in The Revenant
Ewan Mcgregor in Jane Got a Gun
Ben Wishaw in Suffragette
Christoph Waltz in Spectre

Best Supporting Actress
Helena Bonham Carter in Suffragette
Meryl Street in Suffragette
Marion Cotillard in Macbeth
Jessica Chastain in Crimson Peak

RatedRStar said...

@Donald: Ohhh yes I am sorry, I am interested in everyones =D, I want to put all of these films on my Oscar spreadsheet so I can get giddy with excitement as to how good they could be =D.

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

SUIT I forgot about Fassbender, don't kill me people, replace Depp with him. Watanabe is a strong possibility. The only reason I didn't put Neeson and Garford in is the release date.

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

And I get how you feel RatedRStar :)

Louis Morgan said...

I doubt Knight of Cups as no one has ever been nominated for a Malick film even when their performances are great.

I'd put trust in Jobs merely due Sorkin's script, as he is fairly popular with academy. Also when was the last time a Shakespearean performance was nominated? I think Branagh for Henry V, and he perhaps benefited from recalling Olivier's earlier work.

McConaughey certainly has a chance although two things make me hesitant to predict him. One Van Sant could go full Gerry for all we know, and I don't know McConaughey, for some reason, may have trouble finding a second nomination like Marion Cotillard. The main reason I say this is the fact that in terms of winning he was almost completely ignored for True Detective as though his Oscar for Dallas Buyers Club was more than enough recognition for the McConaissance.

luke higham said...

As of Now, these are my hopes, not my predictions.
Lead Actor
Michael Fassbender in Macbeth
Christian Bale in Knight of Cups
Matthew McConaughey in Sea of Trees
Jake Gyllenhaal in Southpaw
Leonardo Dicaprio in The Revenant
Alternate - Tom Hardy in Legend or Child 44, Tom Hanks in St Jame's Place and Andrew Garfield in Silence

Supporting Actor
Tom Hardy in The Revenant
Christoph Waltz in Spectre
Liam Neeson in Silence
Ken Watanabe in Sea of Trees
Woody Harrelson in Triple Nine
Alternate - someone from The Hateful Eight

Lead Actress
Crush No 1 - Marion Cotillard in Macbeth
Crush No 2 - Cate Blanchett in Carol
Crush No 3 - Carey Mulligan in Suffragette

Supporting Actress
Jessica Chastain in Crimson Peak

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

@Luke: you have 3 of my top 5 crushes in your Lead Actress haha. The other two being Keira Knightley and Julianne Moore.

luke higham said...

Academy, I know it's a lost cause but please stop nominating every Streep Performance, as if she's a god, unless it's a deserving performance like Sophie's Choice or Silkwood.

luke higham said...

I have a question for everyone, for any of you, what was the most heartbreaking or striking moment you've seen in 2014 for film, for me, Guy Pearce's reaction to Robert Pattison's death in The Rover, that moment alone hit me extremely hard and is the main reason why he's my number 2 for the year, as brilliant as he is for the rest of the film.

moviefilm said...

luke: Well, thanks for the spoiler...

luke higham said...

Moviefilm: Oops, Apologies for that, but I just couldn't contain my feelings. Also, I've never liked Robert Pattison, despite appreciating his performance here, also, you did say you only watch Oscar movies and this hardly got any recognition at all.

moviefilm said...

luke: I didn't say that. I said that's what I enjoy doing. It doesn't mean I watch these films explicitly. From time to time I even watch foreign film. Don't worry about that, I was still not sure, if I should watch it (Pattinson and Pearce are actors, who I don't admire very much), so now it just helped me decide. :)