Based on an incredible true story of one man’s fight for survival and freedom. In the pre-Civil War United States, Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery. Facing cruelty (personified by a malevolent slave owner, portrayed by Michael Fassbender), as well as unexpected kindnesses, Solomon struggles not only to stay alive, but to retain his dignity. In the twelfth year of his unforgettable odyssey, Solomon’s chance meeting with a Canadian abolitionist (Brad Pitt) will forever alter his life. – Written by Fox Searchlight
Best Motion Picture of the Year
Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role–Chiwetel Ejiofor
Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role–Michael Fassbender
Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role–Lu
Achievement in Costume Design
Achievement in Directing–Steve McQueen
Achievement in Film Editing
Achievement in Production Design
Why It Should Win
This is my pick for Best Motion Picture of the Year because this film restored my faith in quality film making. But, personal opinion aside, the odds are ever in 12 Years a Slave‘s favor. Statistics have proven over the years that if a film picks up certain other prestigious awards in the circuit–the Golden Globes, the Producers Guild of America, the SAG, etc– that it is far more likely to pick up the golden statue at the Academy Awards. So far Steve McQueen’s drama powerhouse has snagged the Toronto IFF People’s Choice Award, the Golden Globe for Best Drama, the Producers Guild of America Award (although it tied with Gravity for that one), and the Critics’ Choice Award.
For the acting noms, I won’t be surprised if Chiwetel Ejiofor (who Browncoats will recognise from Whedon’s Serenity) picks up the golden statue for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role. He was also nominated for the Golden Globe, although he didn’t win. Neither Robert Redford nor Tom Hanks managed to snag a nomination this year, and as we all know, the Academy snubs DiCaprio almost as often as Meryl Streep. However, I have every confidence that Ejiofor’s haunting performance as Solomon Northup will edge him to the front of the race. Director Steve McQueen, in an article for the Huffington Post, compared Ejiofor’s presence to that of Sidney Poitier.
The other acting nominations, for supporting actor and actress, are for Michael Fassbender, who plays Solomon’s cruel slave owner, and Lupita Nyong’o, a fellow slave. It’s assumed that Fassbender will be passed over for Dallas Buyers Club‘s Jared Leto (even though the universe agrees that Fassbender should win) but Lupita Nyong’o (who made her American film debut with this film) could very well trump America’s Sweetheart Jennifer Lawrence with her well-received role as Patsey in 12 Years a Slave. Personally, I think that this film deserves any and all acting awards that it receives.
Now, the race for best director is on. No doubt in my mind that Steve McQueen deserves it, but as he’s going up against Alfonso Cuaron and Martin Scorsese, well, the odds are not in his favor.
If you haven’t yet seen 12 Years a Slave, it, like most other Oscar noms, is back in theaters. This film is powerfully made, and if you’re like me, you’ll originally want to see it for no other reason than to hear Benedict Cumberbatch attempt an American accent.
The race to the Academy Awards is on, my friends.
Disclaimer: All images and clips used in this post are the property of Fox Searchlight.