12 Years a Slave
Directed by: Steve McQueen
Written by: John Ridley (screenplay), Solomon Northup (memoir)
Starring: Chiwetel Ejiofer, Michael Fassbender, Lupita Nyong’o and Sarah Paulson
Connecting 12 Years a Slave immediately to its Oscar buzz because of when a studio chose to release it would be a disservice to it. To put it simply, this is the most powerful film about American slavery that I’ve ever seen, and diminishing that accomplishment by asking if the white male establishment of the Academy can handle it enough to award it with anything is at the bottom of my list.
Steve McQueen’s previous two features, Hunger and Shame, were visually brilliant, but at times lacking a crucial human element. This was especially true of Shame, whose miserabalism was supposed to be its own profound reward but ultimately registered as empty. There is obviously a great deal of suffering in 12 Years a Slave, but also an intense humanity.