Oscar 2013: 12 Years a Slave

Fox Searchlight

October 18

In this historically significant, dramatically intense feature, the talented Chiwetel Ejiofor (“American Gangster”), a British actor of Nigerian descent, stars as Solomon Northup, the New York State citizen who was kidnapped and made to work on a plantation in New Orleans in the 1800s.

The tale is directed by Steve McQueen, who made a splash with his two previous and provocative films, “Hunger” and “Shame,” both emotionally wrenching and both starring the gifted German-born thespian Michael Feassbender, who is also in the new picture.

The script, co-written by McQueen with John Ridley, is based in part on Northup’s memoir.

Most of the sage is set in 1841, when Northup, then residing in Saratoga Springs, New York, is kidnapped and sold to a sadistic slave owner (Fassbender) in the Deep South

The glorious cast includes Michael Fassbender, Alfre Woodard, Brad Pitt, Benedict Cumberbatch, Sarah Paulson, Paul Dano, and Paul Giamatti

Alfre Woodard, Brad Pitt, Dano, and Giamatti have all been nominated for the lead or supporting Oscar, which immediately elevated the stature of the work.

This year seems to be strong in films about race and interracial relations, including “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” (which opens August 16) and is also a serious Oscar contender.


Running time: 133 Minutes.


Chiwetel Ejiofor as Solomon Northrup
Paul Giamatti as Freeman
Alfre Woodard as Mistress Shaw