Brief Reviews: 12 Years a Slave

January 26th, 2014, 11pm

It was 4.4°C with overcast. The wind was calm.

If you’ve considered seeing 12 Years a Slave, view with eyes open to the best movie of the year.

Yep, I went there. Here’s why.

This movie, based on the 1853 novel by Solomon Northup—I feel it unfortunately necessary to point out that he was a free man—, engages even more deeply with the discussions we continue to have about equality based on race, religion, and sexuality in our current society. It fearlessly charges into the source material, pulling off emotional and evocative scenes that still make me uncomfortable days later. Actors Chiwetel Ejiofor and Lupita Nyong’o personalize the experience of oppression in a way that makes it uncomfortable for this white, privileged woman to comment in any way other than to stand up and applaud. Steve McQueen provides a beautiful view on the horrifying scene, coaches every actor to a strong performance (save Brad Pitt, sorry Brad), and nails a completely silent climax scene in the end. Bravo.

I’m calling it now, and I’m calling it early, but I think this is the movie that’s got the best chance of sweeping the Academy Awards. It’s a must-see, even though it’s going not a pleasant experience.

(Addendum: Special nods to youngest-ever Best Actress Nominee Quvenzhané Wallis of Beasts of the Southern Wild, and naturally, Benedict Cumberbatch for still giving that southern accent an attempt.)

Adrian and Cassie said thanks.

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Valerie Stimac

Constraints create lots of great things, diamonds and creativity among them.

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