Although it misses a few smaller targets (Brad Pitt’s cotton-mouthed performance, for one), 12 Years a Slave earns all the talk it sparked (and should keep) as the Best Picture front-runner. Burnished by Chiwetel Ejiofor’s powerful central performance, 12 Years a Slave is an emotionally powerful and challenging film. The title says most of it: Solomon Northup (Ejiofor) was abducted and sold into slavery in the 1840s. For more than a decade, Northup, who had been as skilled with a violin as with carpenter’s tools as a free man, was enslaved in Louisiana. His first master was the more pragmatic and empathetic Ford (Benedict Cumberbatch), but soon, he’s sold to Epps (Fassbender), as cruel a son-of-a-bitch as you’ll see for a long time. The film does not flinch even if you do, and director Steve McQueen has made a movie that will stand the test of time.
Director: Steve McQueen
Producer: Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Bill Pohlad, Steve McQueen, Arnon Milchan, Anthony Katagas, John Ridley and Tessa Ross
Cast: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Garret Dillahunt, Paul Giamatti, Scoot McNairy, Lupita Nyong'o, Adepero Oduye, Sarah Paulson, Brad Pitt, Michael Williams, Alfre Woodard, Chris Chalk, Taran Killam, Bill Camp, Kelsey Scott, Quvenzhané Wallis and Cameron Zeigler