12 Years a Slave ★★★★½

Steve McQueen's 12 Years A Slave tells a story everyone should hear, but few will be able to watch. In what's quite possible the most graphically accurate depiction of America's first sin, 12 Years follows the true story of Solomon Northup's kidnapping and enslavement throughout the south. McQueen's long time cinematographer Sean Bobbitt does an incredible job capturing the sheer horror and emotional devastation slavery caused. The cast is phenomenal from top to bottom, especially Michael Fassbender, who brings the plantation owner to life in a way I've never seen before. That being said; McQueen seems to emphasize the brutality of it all in lieu of the narrative and story structure. Towards the end, the pacing becomes erratic and awkward. The plethora of subplots slowed the overall story and drew focus away from the main story being told. Despite those minor flaws, John Ridley's screenplay was incredibly well written with excellent dialogue. I'm genuinely surprised that Ridley was able to write so solid of a script. There was no doubt in my mind that this would win Best Picture, but I'm afraid it may have won for the wrong reasons. In my opinion, Her, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity, and even Nebraska would have been significantly better choices. Bottom line, 12 Years A Slave is a movie that everyone should watch at least once. It's an incredibly powerful story, but the execution could have been significantly better.