12 Years a Slave has been a film that I have been avoiding to watch for a while. Even though it won Best Picture in 2014, I still did not want to see it. It was not because it was a bad movie or I had no interest. I am actually very interested in period pieces especially in the civil war era. This is a film that was talked about so much and was herald as one of the most powerful films of this generation.
12 Years follows the story of a free black man that was kidnapped from his home in New York, and sent to New Orleans to be sold in the slave market. A moving redemption story filled with many obstacles, Chiwetel Ejiofor, playing Solomon Northrup shares the story of what it truly means to be free. This movie has a cast that could fill up a hall of fame. Paul Giamatti, Brad Pitt, Paul Dano, Benedict Cumberbatch and Taran Killam round out the supporting roles. However, the main cast is what really makes this movie remarkable.
Lupita Nyong’o has her breakout role as Patsey and really embodies the role of an abused slave woman. Chiwetel Ejiofor is able to tell so many stories through his face alone that when he speaks, I want to listen. Truly a perfect casting and one that will be remembered forever. Now here comes the roles that really stand out to me. Sarah Paulson as a plantation owners wife is truly chilling. In one of the scariest performances I have ever seen, she is able to channel pure jealousy and vitriolic hate. And finally Michael Fassbender as Epps, Sarah Paulson’s husband and owner of the cotton field. He became Edwin Epps and lost himself. The amount of brutality he shows in this movie is deafening and the portrayal of an alcoholic is done perfectly. He doesn’t go too far with it, but enough to know that this man is unhinged.
The cinematography shows the beautiful plantations and surrounding houses in such a manner that you forget what they were used for and what happened in those fields. There were times where I thought to myself about visiting them because they are gorgeous. And then it is followed with a scene of a slave hanging from a willow tree.
I am glad that I finally got to watch this and would watch again. This is not like Requiem for a Dream, where I have no interest in watching again, even though it is a special film. I would watch this again, just to watch these fine actors put on the showcase of a lifetime.
12 Years a Slave: 9.8/10
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One of Tom Cruise’s first movies, he plays a high school football player, about to give up a college scholarship so he can stay in Pittsburgh and help his family out. This movie isn’t one of his bests, but it has everything I love. High School football, Lea Thompson, Tom Cruise.