Tag Archive: Steve McQueen


The Academy Awards are this Sunday night and they are bound to bring their share of joys and disappointments. To combat the disappointment that I feel when my favorites don’t win, I decided to hand out my own awards to the films that I believe are most worthy. Here you will find my favorites of 2013 in categories ranging from Best Actor to Best Original Song. Agree with my choices? What categories would you do differently? Let me know in the comments below!

If you are interested in viewing my top ten films of 2013, click here


Best Director

Ethan Coen & Joel Coen – Inside Llewyn Davis

Alfonso Cuaron – Gravity

Abdellatif Kechiche – Blue is the Warmest Color

Steve McQueen – 12 Years a Slave

Martin Scorsese – The Wolf of Wall Street


Best Actor

Bruce Dern – Nebraska

Leonardo DiCaprio- The Wolf of Wall Street

Chiwetel Ejiofor – 12 Years a Slave

Tom Hanks – Captain Phillips

Michael B. Jordan – Fruitvale Station


Best Actress (TIE)

Cate Blanchett – Blue Jasmine

Sandra Bullock – Gravity

Adèle Exarchopoulos – Blue is the Warmest Color

Greta Gerwig – Frances Ha

Emma Thompson – Saving Mr. Banks


Best Supporting Actor

Barkhad Abdi – Captain Phillips

Michael Fassbender – 12 Years a Slave

James Franco – Spring Breakers

Jonah Hill – The Wolf of Wall Street

Jared Leto – Dallas Buyers Club


Best Supporting Actress

Scarlett Johansson – Her

Jennifer Lawrence – American Hustle

Lupita Nyong’o – 12 Years a Slave

Léa Seydoux – Blue is the Warmest Color

Octavia Spencer – Fruitvale Station


Best Original Screenplay

American Hustle – David O. Russell and Eric Warren Singer

Blue Jasmine – Woody Allen

Her – Spike Jonze

Inside Llewyn Davis – Joel Coen and Ethan Coen

Nebraska – Bob Nelson


Best Adapted Screenplay

12 Years a Slave – John Ridley

Before Midnight – Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy

Blue is the Warmest Color – Abdellatif Kechiche

Captain Phillips – Billy Ray

The Wolf of Wall Street – Terence Winter


Best Cinematography


12 Years a Slave


Spring Breakers

Inside Llewyn Davis


Best Art Direction

12 Years a Slave


The Great Gatsby

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug



Best Visual Effects

Star Trek Into Darkness


The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Pacific Rim



Best Sound


All is Lost

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Captain Phillips

12 Years a Slave


Best Original Score


12 Years a Slave


Saving Mr. Banks



Best Original Song

Atlas – Hunger Games

I see Fire – The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Let it Go – Frozen

Ordinary Love – Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

Please Mr. Kennedy – Inside Llewyn Davis


Best Animated Film

Despicable Me 2


Monsters University


Best Editing

12 Years a Slave

Captain Phillips


Inside Llewyn Davis




Nearly every film will have some sort of emotional reaction on the viewer. These reactions can range from joy, to fear, to boredom, to disgust. But it takes a truly great film to hit you on such an emotional level that it will leave you in tears. Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave will likely have this effect on people. It is such an emotionally tolling film, that I found myself tearing up in multiple moments throughout the film’s 133 minute run-time. It is horrifying in its realistic portrayal of slavery, breathtaking in the sheer amount of care and cinematic prowess that went into its production, and ultimately uplifting in the film’s message that, no matter how bad things may get, there is always something worth living for.

In this astonishing true story, Chiwetel Ejiofor stars as Solomon Northup, a free African American man who is living with his wife and two children in New York during the year 1841. One day he is approached by a pair of men (Taran Killam and Scoot McNairy) who offer him a job as a musician in a traveling circus. This job offer seems too good to be true and, unfortunately for Solomon, it is. He awakens the following morning in a jail cell, having been drugged the night before. Despite being a free man, Solomon is sent by ship to New Orleans to be sold as a slave.

In his third feature film, director Steve McQueen has crafted what will surely go down as a masterpiece. The cinematography by Sean Bobbitt is incredibly exquisite, somehow managing to simultaneously look beautiful and threatening, often within the same shot. An early scene in which the camera moves through a field of sugarcane is certainly a harbinger of the violence that the audience will soon be witness to. Also incredible are McQueen’s use of long takes. Some of them last for an excruciatingly long time, forcing the viewer to feel some of the distressing pain that Northup is also experiencing. One long take involving a whipping is so expertly shot and choreographed that it will likely be studied for years to come.

Many viewers may find the graphic violence depicted in the film simply too much to handle. In his portrayal of the hardships that were faced by African Americans during the time of slavery, McQueen simply doesn’t hold anything back. Not only is the physical violence in the film disturbing, but the actual dehumanization of the African Americans is brutal to watch as well. A scene in which white plantation owners walk through a room full of naked African Americans for sale will fill the viewer with disgust and a scene involving a rape is truly horrifying to watch. Never before has the calamity of slavery been portrayed so realistically on film.

Chiwetel Ejiofor has been delivering solid performances for over a decade, but it his role as Solomon Northup that should finally get audiences to take notice of his incredible abilities. Ejiofor delivers a magnificently emotional performance as Northup, a man who is willing to endure the most difficult of circumstances to survive and, hopefully, one day be reunited with his family. Ejiofor takes the audience on an emotional journey and really makes you feel what his character is experiencing.

Luckily, Ejiofor never overshadows any of his costars, who all deliver equally impressive performances. Michael Fassbender is brilliantly frightening as plantation owner Edwin Epps. Fassbender’s character often feels like a man who cannot be reasoned with, making him all the more intimidating. As the Mistress Epps, Sarah Paulson is often more terrifying than her onscreen husband, choosing to slowly torture any of her slaves that she is not fond of. The slave that receives most of this torture is Patsey and Lupita Nyong’o (in her feature film debut) is incredible in the role. Not every plantation owner is portrayed as truly evil and it is clear that Benedict Cumberbatch’s character, William Ford, is simply a product of the times that he has been born into. Cumberbatch is great in the role, further cementing him as one of our greatest up-and-coming actors. Finally, in a small but pivotal role, Brad Pitt turns on his Southern accent as Samuel Bass, but he does so with gravitas and sophistication.

The true story of Solomon Northup is so extraordinary and inspiring that it’s baffling that it has taken this long to adapt it into a feature film. Thankfully, it has been worth the wait because this story has been given the care that it deserves. With a musical score by Hans Zimmer that manages to feel both tender and imposing, and an intelligently crafted script from John Ridley, Steve McQueen has somehow managed to assemble a cast and crew of the highest pedigree. Not only is 12 Years a Slave one of the best films of the year, it is quite possibly the greatest film ever made about slavery in the American South.

12 Years a Slave receives 4/4