12 Years a Slave ★★★★

The story is heart-breaking and the performances excellent. The expressiveness of Chiwetel Ejiofor's face, and the sheer intensity of Michael Fassbender were amazing to watch. Lupita Nyong'o's soap scene makes her desperation palpable. Paul Giamatti is perfectly horrible. The cinematography also shines, with long, haunting shots of southern wilderness.

My only criticisms are some of Zimmer's soundtrack is distracting (eg. the steamer scene), and a few scenes have really mumbly dialogue that can be hard to hear.