Sunday, February 09, 2014

Best Picture Primer: 12 Years a Slave

12 Years a Slave is, and has been for quite a while, considered to be the frontrunner for Best Picture gold.  One of many Best Picture films this year adapted from real-life events, 12 Years a Slave tells the story of Solomon Northup, a free black man living in New York state, who was duped, kidnapped, and sold into slavery.  He remained in bondage for 12 years, almost unable to even hope for release.

Director Steve McQueen finally breaks into the Oscar race - his previous two full-length films Shame and Hunger won a combined 63 film awards, yet neither were nominated for an Academy Award - and should be walking home with at least some hardware.  Michael Fassbender appears in his third McQueen film and earns himself a Best Supporting Actor nod, while star Chiwetel Ejiofor picks up a nomination as Best Actor.  Both men reach to great depths to create their characters, but ultimately pull their performances from very different parts - Ejiofor ultimately emerges with one of desperate hope, while Fassbender is, not too boil it down too far, sadistic.

There's no reason to think this can't walk away with, at least, a Best Picture win; it's possibly the most flawless film of the year, and manages to deal with its dark subject matter without exploiting or pandering to it.

Other Nominations

Best Actor - Chiwetel Ejiofor
Best Supporting Actor - Michael Fassbender
Best Supporting Actress - Lupita Nyong'o
Costume Design - Patricia Norris
Best Director - Steve McQueen
Film Editing - Joe Walker
Production Design - Adam Stockhausen, Alice Baker
Adapted Screenplay - John Ridley

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