Directed by Steve McQueen. Screenplay by John Ridley, based on the book by Solomon Northup.
Cast: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Lupita Nyong'o, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Garret Dillahunt, Adepero Oduye, Michael Kenneth Williams, Alfre Woodard.
Although the enslavement of Africans is a huge part of our history, very few great films have been made on the subject. Perhaps it takes an outsider like Steve McQueen, a British filmmaker with Trinidadian roots (The Hunger, Shame) to give us a clear-eyed look at slavery. McQueen's movie is based on the memoirs of Solomon Northup, (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor) who was born a free man in the North, only to be sold into slavery when he visited Washington, D.C. Before his eventual release, Northup's 12-year descent into hell is icily claustrophobic, especially under the regime of a Louisiana planter (Michael Fassbender) who treats his workers - and the unfortunate woman (Lupita Nyong'o) who incites his desire - with casual brutality. 134 min
"The genius of 12 Years A Slave is its insistence on banal evil, and on terror, that seeped into souls, bound bodies and reaped an enduring, terrible price." -
Manohla Dargis, New York Times