Me and J.G. went to see 12 Years a Slave last night and man…we couldn’t even talk to each other the whole ride home. There were just so many things we were feeling. At one point, during the movie’s most harrowing scene, I considered walking out of the theater, because I didn’t want to disturb the audience (I’m a loud crier). But I stayed and ultimately, I’m glad I didn’t miss anything.
As gut-wrenchingly difficult as 12 Years is to watch, it is also a masterpiece that everyone has to see. And judging from the crowd at LA’s Landmark Theater last night, everyone feels the same (there was a long applause at the end). It’s an important, necessary work of art depicting a horrific piece of American history which we must never forget. How could we? And what’s so special about it is that it’s told from the unique perspective of a free man who is kidnapped and thrown into slavery, as was Solomon Northup. This character’s real-life circumstances were truly extraordinary, which is why it took an actor of Chiwetel Ejiofor’s caliber to bring him to life. It’s some of the finest acting I’ve seen and it’s hard to imagine anyone else playing this part. He’s a certain Best Actor contender in 2014.
Every day, I gain more and more respect for Brad Pitt as a producer and look forward to seeing what his company Plan B brings us in the years to come. I respect that he doesn’t pick “easy” projects. After the movie’s world premiere at Telluride, Pitt suggested the audience “take a walk around the block” to get some air and recover.
As for the Best Picture race, it’s a wrap.
Back to the performances: Michael Fassbender as Edwin Epps, the pic’s brutal slave owner, is a sadist that’s hard to shake from your consciousness once you walk out of the theater. I don’t know of a more intense actor in Hollywood right now, except maybe Benedict Cumberbatch, who is also brilliant as the more benevolent of masters, Forde.
But who I really want to talk about is Lupita Nyong’o as Epps’ slave Patsy…I can’t stop thinking about her. Director Steve McQueen apparently cast the 30-year-old Kenyan actress three weeks before she even graduated from Yale’s drama school and it’s easy to see why.
New York mag just did a great tip sheet on all things Lupita. We’ll undoubtedly be seeing a lot of this gorgeous new face in the coming months leading up to Oscar. And I’m certain that on that night, she’ll go home with the Best Supporting Actress trophy.
From left: Fassbender as Edwin Epps, Nyong’o as Patsy, and Ejiofor as Solomon.