Blogs | Catching the Oscars – 12 Years a Slave

Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Editing are some of the categories that 12 Years A Slave has gained nominations in at the Oscars this year, and this movie has bagged a fair share of awards already. 12 Years A Slave is up against some of last year’s biggest blockbusters such as Gravity, Captain Phillips, and the more recent American Hustle and The Wolf of Wall Street. 

 What made 12 Years A Slave so worthy of its numerous nominations has been its ability to illuminate those disturbing parts of history that people so often try to forget. Lupita Nyong’o, who plays Patsey in the movie, won the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Award for Supporting actress in 12 Years A Slave a couple of weeks ago and she seemed delighted to be a part of a project and a story that’s as significant as this movie. She thanked Steve McQueen, who directed the movie, for “taking a flash light and shining it underneath the floorboards of this nation and reminding us of what it is we stand on.” 

The movie narrates the true story of Solomon Northup, a free black man from New York who was abducted and sold for slavery in the 1840s. The cast ensemble involves some of the most well-respected actors and actresses, such as Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch and Brad Pitt, who all play small but important roles in bringing together the remarkable story. Despite a lot of money being invested into making this movie what it is, the directing and acting makes it seem extremely realistic to the time-period in which it is set. It has grown to be a massively respected movie and shows us the severity of racial discrimination of the 19th Century through its amazing cast and directing. It shows the struggles that individual people came to be faced with and showed the struggle of losing family and dealing with societal issues.

What makes this movie so wonderfully produced is its sense of vulnerability and realism – 12 Years A Slave strays away from the using artificial visual effects that Hollywood is so obsessed with and instead focuses on the characters and the storytelling. It is against American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity, Her, Nebraska, Philomena and The Wolf of Wall Street for The Best Picture at the Oscars, and each movie has earned their rightful place. I have never seen a category so strong as this year’s Best Picture and honestly it’s a tough call. All of these movies are unique and great in their own right and I’d be happy with any of those movies bagging this award. 12 Years A Slave, however, represents the beauty of storytelling when it’s stripped back of over-the-top visual effects, glamourisation and other faux-ness that contemporary movies often get too wrapped up in and proves that when all effort is put into creating a wonderful script and casting amazing actors then the end product is potentially incredible. 

Kelly Scanlon

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