Sunday, February 9, 2014

12 Years a Slave (2013)

Forget about racism. Forget about this film being just an Oscar bait, or whatever negative people say about 12 Years a Slave. I'm just gonna tell you why this is such an epic film for me, without expounding on its socio-political/historical relevance.

McQueen's patient direction in contrast with the cast's intense & nuanced acting, along with the awesome music makes this unbearably painful film beautiful. His scenes are so atmospheric, you can't help but get chills because you feel the weight of everything you're seeing. Even when there's seemingly nothing going on, it's actually those scenes where you feel the most.

Directed by: Steve McQueen (Shame)
Starring: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Lupita Nyong'o
Screenplay by:  John Ridley (Undercover Brother)
Based on Twelve Years a Slave (Solomon Northup)
Music by:  Hans Zimmer
Cinematography by:  Sean Bobbitt (The Place Beyond the Pines, Shame)
Editing by: Joe Walker (Shame)
Running Time:  134 mins
Budget:  $20 million
Box Office:  over $97 million

Before watching this, I was really rooting for Leonardo DiCaprio to win Best Actor. I still am (because I effin' love Leo!!), but I really think that Chiwetel Ejiofor deserves to win this award. With Michael Fassbender's awesome-in-a-psychotic-way Master Epps to torment Solomon Northup (Ejiofor), Chiwetel's subtle acting (suffering) resonates all the more. They complement each other. I love every bit of screen time they share together. 

The cast is great. Even the smallest actors on set gave great performances. It shocked me that the scene which made me cry (the first time) was not because of the main characters, but from someone who I only saw for several seconds. The scene where Patsey was being given some salve for her back, the woman applying it caught my attention. Suffering in silence, forced to accept whatever fate their masters decide for them, all they can do is cry silently - that's what I got from that woman's acting. It was actually so great that Lupita's scene was overshadowed because I was already bawling like a hungry kitten even before the camera zooms into her anguish-filled expression. 

And Lupita Nyong'o! My god, that woman! I love Jennifer Lawrence, okay? For me, she is charming, adorable and a good actress. But I don't get why she's getting all the attention because of her American Hustle role, when she has Nyong'o's performance to contend with? She's brilliant in her role as Patsey. She made me wanna care about her character more than I could care about Solomon (Ejiofor). She made me wonder what her fate might be even after the credits have rolled, even when I have already turned off my tv screen - to me, that's the mark of a great performance. To touch your audience's heart, not just their minds. That's what Nyong'o did.

My Rating: 4.5/5 (5/5 for the acting) I wasn't sure at first if I'll enjoy this but this is the kind of film in which once you've started, you just couldn't look away. The moment Benedict Cumberbatch appeared, I was hooked. LOL.

Countdown to the Oscars: This could win Best Picture. And I want Nyong'o to win Best Supporting. Fassbender deserves to win as well (but Jared Leto is another favorite). McQueen as Best Director? I still think that Alfonso Cuaron should win in that category for Gravity - because others have done/and can do another historical drama about slavery and whatnot, but Cuaron has set a benchmark for space movies genre that may be a hard act to follow (at least in this era).

Here are my reviews of other Oscar-nominated films:

Her - 3.5/5
12 Years a Slave - 4.5/5
Frozen - 4/5
Before Midnight - 4.5/5

YOUR POINT OF VIEW: What Oscar awards do you think this movie deserves?

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  1. Great review live the enthusiasm :) Ialso think 12 years should win and probably will, although personally I enjoyed wolf of wall street more, and maybe when I get to see 'Her' I'll be rooting for that. Either way they're all fab films for different reasons!

  2. thank you :) I've enjoyed Wolf too, but 12 years a slave is also good because of the acting. I'm really excited about this year's oscars. All nominees are so good in their own rights.

    I haven't seen Her yet



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