Dethroning Gravity as my favourite film this year is 12 Years A Slave, an example of what film making could and should be; my typically hyper-critical nature was unable to excavate flaws. I highly suspect 12 Years will sweep award shows in 2014 – Best Film, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress.
Slavery, delivered here in the most sucker-punch method possible, is more than enough to strike the emotional resonance necessary for 12 Years to become a conversation centerpiece. However, the film goes further to brand those emotions on to short term memory by first delivering brutality and human behavior arguably at its worst. Then pausing. Then following it by a segment with no sound or dialogue, just an actor’s facial expressions and a slow, reflective, agonizing and convincing realization that hope is lost.
While Fassbender and Ejiofor give award winning performances and McQueen is at his very best tweezing out gut-wrenching emotions in quick succession, the surprising show stealer is newcomer Lupita Nyong’o with her performance as Patsy. Fragility, strength, compassion, anger, hopelessness and maligned resignation flow naturally from her as it would from seasoned actresses 30 years her senior. Good on you Lupita, I’ve already cast my vote for you this year.