You’ve all heard it already. Every review praises this film as the movie of the year that will win all the Oscars. I’d also heard it all before I saw it. And….that….trailer. (Props to whoever put that together). Basically……I had EXTREMELY HIGH expectations.
They were all right.
This is not a feel good movie. It is depressing, dark, heartbreaking, harsh, and difficult to watch. Yet with a topic so horrible, this film is beautiful.
The cinematography, editing, direction, music, art direction, and costumes, are of the highest caliber. A mere 20 minutes into the film, I turned to my Mom (yes I went with my Mommy) and I whispered, “Oh my gosh…….this movie is perfect.” I was too busy soaking it all in, in awe of its brilliance and beauty, to really cry. And I cry at the drop of a hat with movies. I think I might have also been in a state of shock and horror. Don’t worry…..I did cry….but I’ll get to that in a bit.
Now here I go with the actor praise. First, Chiwetel Ejiofor (Solomon Northup). I can’t believe people are just barely starting to recognize him. He was already an Oscar worthy actor back when Kinky Boots came out. If you have not seen that, please do. In 12 Years A Slave, his performance is phenomenal. He doesn’t even need over-the-top scenes of screaming, or yelling, or crying to garner a nomination. There is one scene in particular (see image below), where the camera focuses on his face as he stares out at his surroundings. The camera just stays on his face for a few minutes with no dialogue. I don’t even think any tears fall, but you can see his pain. It is so convincing, I pretty much lost all hope right along with him. There is your Oscar clip right there.
Benedict Cumberbatch (Ford): Brilliant. Small role. Still brilliant. Doesn’t do a whole lot. Brilliant. He plays a man morally conflicted by the treatment of slaves, yet still contributes to it, by purchasing slaves of his own. The pressure of the time and his own debts prevents him from doing what we all wish we could go back in time and do. Help.
Paul Dano (Tibeats): He is the kind of actor who can either play the most adorable person ever (Little Miss Sunshine)……..or the creepiest (Prisoners and There Will Be Blood). This movie made me want to punch him in the face. Repeatedly. With a chair.
The Fassbender (Edwin Epps): Should have won an Oscar for Shame. If he doesn’t win for this…….any faith I have left in the Academy will be lost. His performance in 12 Years A Slave was nothing new to me. He is perfection. In everything. I usually sympathize with all his characters because of how much I love him. After this movie……..I needed a break from him to recover.
Lupita Nyong’o (Patsey): This woman came out of nowhere and blew everyone in this movie out of the water. I can’t even put into words how great her performance was. If anything, watch this movie for her. Remember when I said there was a point in the movie when I finally cried? Towards the end of the movie (don’t worry no spoilers) there is a scene where she and Chiwetel Ejifor hug. I won’t tell you why or how, but this part hit me like a ton of bricks. I did the ugly cry. All of her scenes in the movie came rushing back and the sobbing started and didn’t stop until the movie was over. She broke me. Chiwetel Ejiofor’s character (Solomon Northup) went through hell, but witnessing her suffering was punishment and torture enough.
I could go on and on and on about the greatness of this film and everyone in it. Steve McQueen (no not The Great Escape guy) is one of the best directors out there. (Watch Hunger and Shame right now). This movie deserves the Oscars it will most likely get. The actors deserve the Oscars they will most likely get. Just go see it.