With Black History month wrapping up and the Academy Awards looming, **12 Years a Slave** is the film to see. With 9 Oscar nominations and a Golden Globe winner for Best Picture in Drama, **12 Years a Slave** is a well crafted motion picture that stands side by side with previous Best Picture Oscar winners like **Gandhi,** **Schindler's List** and **All Quiet on the Western Front.** Like the previous mentioned Best Picture winners, **12 Years a Slave** will not invite repeat viewings - only one viewing is needed to make this film memorable.
The title speaks for itself, it is based the autobiography written and published by Solomon Northup before the Civil War. Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is a black musician from New England who is kidnapped and sold into slavery on a Southern Plantation. In his 12 years as a slave, Northup is sold by conniving rat (Paul Giamatti), brutalized by an entitled rich kid (Paul Dano) and performs brutal acts under the orders of an alchoholic overseer (Michael Fassbender). Yet Northup is given moments of beautiful grace from a fellow slave (Lupita Nyong'o), while learning Christian values from Ford (Benedict Cumberbatch) and practical carpentry from Bass (Brad Pitt).
Director Steve McQueen (no relation to the actor who died 34 years ago) has created a human motion picture, with brilliant artistic and technical detail. McQueen takes his time to let the story unfold. He fills scenes with shot composition inspired by Old World Master Painter Francisco Goya, these scenes are both brutal & beautiful at the same time. The Hans Zimmer musical score is not intrusive, yet one will walk away from **12 Years a Slave** with an appreciation for acoustic music, in particular bluegrass, blues and gospel.
Win or lose the Oscar race, **12 Years a Slave** is one of the best pictures of 2013.