14A) 12 Years A Slave
Running Time: 134 Minutes
3 and a half stars out of 4.
Director Steve McQueen is known for his long takes, visual style, and his dark and gritty filmmaking. His film, 12 Years A Slave premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival to acclaim for its outstanding performances, and direction, and was a favourite among critics and audiences alike, and even won the prestigious People’s Choice Award, which was most recently won by films such as, Silver Linings Playbook, The Kings Speech, Slumdog Millionaire, Precious, and more. It has been considered the early favourite during this years Awards Season, and after seeing this film, I can tell you that Steve McQueen has crafted, a stunning, extremely powerful, effective, disturbing film, with outstanding performances, and a touching screenplay. 12 Years A Slave is a powerful film, that ranks among this years best.
Based on the true story, 12 Years A Slave takes place in Saratoga, New York in 1841, where Solomon Northrup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is a free African American man living with his family. Solomon is lured in to a touring job with two men (Taran Killam, Scoot McNairy), and spends the night having dinner with them in Washington, DC. The next day, Solomon awakens chained to the floor in a large prison cell, he discovers he was drugged, and sold into a life of slavery.
12 Years A Slave is an excellent film. Steve McQueen goes to great lengths to show how African Americans were treated in the early 1900’s if they were sold into slavery. He does this by showing many long, still, and extremely disturbing, and very violent scenes of the “slave owners” beating, whipping, and emotionally abusing the slaves, treating them like an object, and not like a person. This is a film that is not afraid to show you, what really happened in the late 1800’s. This film has been considered the Oscar frontrunner to win Best Picture, and believe the hype, I think this is a film that deserves to win the top award. It has all the elements that make up a Best Picture winner, and if it wins it will be a historic victory that will be well deserved. Although some scenes are very hard to watch (as the violence is so graphic), Steve McQueen directs them in a way, that never make them feel gratuitous.
This film also features an very large star studded ensemble, that includes, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassebender, Paul Giammatti, Benedict Cumberbatch, Sarah Paulson, Alfre Woodard, Paul Dano, and newcomer/scene stealer Lupita N’yongo. Everyone in this film does a credible job, many would say Chiwetel Ejiofor gives the best performance in the film, and he is good, but for me the best performances in the film are from Michael Fassebender as the vicious plantation owner, Sarah Paulson as Fasebender’s wife ,and Lupita N’yongo in a brief but very sad, and effective performance as Patsey. 12 Years A Slave features one of the best ensembles of the year, and many of the performances in the film deserve to be considered during Awards Season.
12 Years A Slave is a very effective and touching film that shows you a very dark side of American history, but recently there have been a lot of films that are also about slavery in the South in the late 1800’s. Most recently, Lee Daniel’s The Butler, and last year’s Lincoln, and Django Unchained. 12 Years A Slave is by far the most violent film about slavery that has ever been released. These scenes are very effective, but since the violence occurs so often during the duration of the film, it is very disturbing and hard to watch, and makes the viewer feel real emotion.
The production values in the film are impecable. Steve McQueen and Production Designer Adam Stockhausen really capture the late 1800’s and early 1900’s with there attention to detail. Hanz Zimmer’s score is also very good, and even though at times it does feel like it belongs in a superhero film, and although repetitive it is still very effective.
12 Years A Slave is a sad, important, and very effective film. Steve McQueen has crafted one of the best film of the year, and has assembled a stellar ensemble, lead by the amazing Chiwetel Ejiofor. 12 Years A Slave deserve praise, and recognition come Awards Season and is the most important film of the year