2013: #3 12 Years a Slave

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Adobe Photoshop PDF


Directed by: Steve McQueen
Written by: John Ridley
Starring: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Paul Giamatti, Lupita Nyong’o, Sarah Paulson, and Brad Pitt
Distributer: Fox Searchlight
Country: USA
Language: English
Rating: R
Running Time: 134 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Date released: 11/1/2013
Date seen: 11/2/2013
Worldwide Box Office Gross: $128 Million
# of Oscar nominations: 9 (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Art Direction, Best Editing, and Best Costume Design)
# of Golden Stake Nominations: 7 (Best Musical Performance, Best Cinematography, Best Villain, Best Supporting Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Actor, and Best Adapted Screenplay)
# of Golden Stakes Won: 3 (Best Cinematography, Best Villain, and Best Supporting Actor)

Why did it take 48 years to tell the story of Oskar Schindler, but 149 years to tell the story of Solomon Northup in a large scale theatrical film?  It’s a question worth asking I suppose, but I’m going to set it to the side because it’s the kind of sentiment that furthers the myth that Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave is some kind of homework assignment that’s only important in so much as it addresses subject matter that has been woefully unaddressed by Hollywood before now.  In fact, 12 Years a Slave is as much about identity as it is about slavery.  Specifically it’s about a man who has a false identity thrust upon him and is forced to accept it lest he suffer great punishment.  His triumph is that he manages to maintain his old identity after twelve years of hell and is part and parcel of this remarkable story of survival.  However, Northup isn’t a straightforward hero either.  He’s occasionally forced to do some less than considerate things to his fellow slaves and prior to his enslavement he doesn’t seem to be doing a whole lot about the injustices that are going on in the South.  His captors aren’t simple villains either.  His first owner is a man characterized by rank hypocrisy, albeit a hypocrisy that does allow his slaves to be slightly better off than they may otherwise have been.  Meanwhile his second owner is a brutal bastard, but McQueen does explore the weaknesses and insecurities which led him to that place.  It’s a complex film, and to reduce it as something as trite as a “slavery is bad” screed is to not look at it very closely.
Full Review

#4 Year End Honors #2
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