Monday, October 28, 2013

12 Years a Slave

So in case you haven't been paying attention, '12 Years a Slave' will be the next Academy Award winner for Best Picture.  Sure, the year isn't over, and there are some highly anticipated films that no one has even seen yet.  But I'd still safely put my money on this one.  Is it that good, you ask?  It is good.  It's great in fact.  But that's not what matters.  What matters is what voters and audiences are told to believe.  And this is the film we are all being brainwashed to say is the best film of this year.  If you're not yet brainwashed, you will be over the next 4 months.  And like most years, the film we're told to say is the best isn't actually the best.

So how do I know this?  Well, for one, traditionally the Audience Award winner at the Toronto Film Festival is a strong predictor of who will win the coveted Oscar.  In recent years, 'The King's Speech', and 'Slumdog Millionaire' both won the audience award at Toronto and went on to win the Best Picture.  (Of course last year 'Silver Linings Playbook' won the audience award but didn't take home the top prize at the Academy Awards, so you never know.)  Now, while they're all very good movies, none of them are the best in my humble opinion.  But while most people call the Toronto Audience Award a strong predictor, I will instead call it a strong determining factor and therefore the beginning of our brainwashing.

Now, don't get me wrong.  This epic film based on a true story about a free man unjustly enslaved during the mid 1800's when slavery was an acceptable practice is a great film, albeit a very hard movie to watch because of its seemingly endless brutality.  Technically I'd say it's flawless, with excellent performances across the board, including Paul Dano, Paul Giamatti, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Brad Pitt, but especially Chiwetel Ejiofor (who will likely win Best Actor) and Michael Fassbender who plays a character so evil I fear for his real life reputation.  I can't really criticize the film for anything except the fact that, like 'Gravity', the story itself is pretty straightforward and lacks the narrative surprises that I enjoy most when I go to the movies.  So, for me, there are better films this year.  And when it comes to the topic of slavery or being held captive, last year's 'Django Unchained' is more fun, 'Prisoners' is more intense, and 'The Butler' is a more interesting story.  There, I said it.

Grade: A

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