David Oyelowo in Selma.

David Oyelowo portrays Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma, director Ava DuVernay’s stunning depiction of the civil rights march from Selma, Ala., in 1965.

In an attempt to gain equal voting rights, Martin Luther King, Jr. organized the march despite violent opposition from citizens and law enforcement officers. The film covers everything from MLK’s dealings with President Lyndon B. Johnson (Tom Wilkinson) to the bewildering, despicable actions of Alabama Gov. George Wallace (an evil Tim Roth). Oyelowo delivers a star-making performance as King, while Carmen Ejogo excels in the role of Coretta Scott King for a second time. (She played the role in the 2001 TV movie Boycott.) Wilkinson and Roth, both British, do well with their accents and create memorable characterizations.

This is one of those films everybody should see, and it should become mandatory viewing in schools. It’s a true accomplishment.

Selma opens Thursday, Jan. 8, at the Cinémas Palme d’Or (72840 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-779-0430) and the UltraStar Mary Pickford Stadium 14 (36850 Pickfair St., Cathedral City; 760-328-7100).