Wednesday, February 5, 2014

12 Years A Slave

12 Years A Slave is an unflinching look at Solomon Northup's experience in 1841 as he was kidnapped and sold into slavery. While much of the movie is difficult to watch, films like it are extremely important. It is astonishing what people do not know about history. Movies are the most populist of our art forms and can educate in a way that others can not. This year marks the 75th anniversary for such classic movies as The Wizard of Oz, Gone With the Wind, Stagecoach and Mr Smith Goes to Washington. In a sound decision, this years Oscar show will feature a look back at the Wizard of Oz and not at Gone With the Wind. Gone With the Wind is no doubt a classic but it also has such a benevolent perspective on the South and slavery that it would be inappropriate.

Chiwetel Ejiofor is nominated for Best Actor for his stellar performance. I think Ejiofor's performance is more deserving of the Oscar than any other nominee. Matthew McConaughey is the front runner for Dallas Buyers Club. Similarly, Jared Leto is the assumed winner for Best Supporting Actor and Michael Fassbender is nominated for 12 Years A Slave. Although, in the supporting category my vote would be for Leto. Lupita Nyong'o has four credits on imdb, and 12 Years A Slave is her very first feature film. She is the front runner for Best Supporting Actress and deservedly so. She is exquisite and flawless on the red carpet and in interviews she has a fresh energy and exuberance that not every actress has. Her persona is in stark contrast to her character and aids in showing what a strong performance she gave.
In her follow-up role to last year's Beasts of the Southern Wild, Quvenzhané Wallis has a small part as Northup's young daughter. Wallis remains the youngest Best Actress nominee. Brad Pitt has a small but integral role in the film, as he did in the production of the movie. When 12 Years A Slave wins Best Picture, as a producer on the film he will receive an Oscar statue.

12 Years A Slave is at this point the given winner for Best Picture, and rightly so. 12 Years A Slave and Gravity tied at the Producers Guild and it seems representative of the year. The two films are so different yet both mark achievements and are movies at the highest level for the year. The Oscar for achievement in directing will likely go to Alfonso Cuarón for Gravity. The direction of 12 Years A Slave by Steve McQueen is nominated as well for Best Director. 12 Years A Slave has nine total nominations. The Costume Design, Film Editing, Production Design and Adapted Screenplay are also nominated. The script is based on Solomon Northup's 1853 memoir and is favored to win. I am quite surprised that the score by Hans Zimmer was not nominated. The music plays such a vital role in the film it is haunting. The score intensifies the emotion of the movie more so than any movie in recent memory. At times to match what is happening on screen, the music sounds like a horror movie, and fittingly.

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