12 Years a Slave

Critics Consensus

It's far from comfortable viewing, but 12 Years a Slave's unflinchingly brutal look at American slavery is also brilliant -- and quite possibly essential -- cinema.

95%

TOMATOMETER

Reviews Counted: 353

90%
liked it

Audience Score

User Ratings: 139,847

TOMATOMETER

N/A
All Critics | Top Critics
Average Rating: N/A
Reviews Count: 0
Fresh: 0
Rotten: 0

AUDIENCE SCORE

90%
Average Rating: 4.3/5

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Movie Info

Chiwetel Ejiofor stars as Solomon Northup, the New York State citizen who was kidnapped and made to work on a plantation in New Orleans in the 1800s. Steve McQueen (Hunger) directs from a script he co-wrote with John Ridley, based in part by Northup's memoir. Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Benedict Cumberbatch, Sarah Paulson, and Paul Giamatti co-star. ~ Jeremy Wheeler, Rovi

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Cast

Chiwetel Ejiofor
as Solomon Northup
Sarah Paulson
as Mrs. Epps
Paul Dano
as Tibeats
Alfre Woodard
as Mistress Shaw
Dwight Henry
as Uncle Abram
Bryan Batt
as Judge Turner
Kelsey Scott
as Anne Northup
Quvenzhane Wallis
as Margaret Northup
Tony Bentley
as Mr. Moon
Taran Killam
as Hamilton
Bill Camp
as Radburn
Chris Chalk
as Clemens
John McConnell
as Jonus Ray
Richard Holden
as Fitzgerald
Liza J. Bennett
as Mistress Ford
Andy Dylan
as Treach
Andre Shanks
as Victim 1
Scott M. Jefferson
as Master Shaw
Topsy Chapman
as Slave Spiritual Singer 1
Devin Maurice Evans
as Slave Spiritual Singer 2
Jay Huguley
as Sheriff
Willo Jean-Baptiste
as Margaret's Husband
Cameron Zeigler
as Alonzo Northup
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News & Interviews for 12 Years a Slave

Critic Reviews for 12 Years a Slave

All Critics (353) | Top Critics (59)

  • It speaks to the courage and resilience of one man, the savagery of many, and the potential, for both good and for ill, in us all.

    Jan 13, 2015 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…
  • In its own saintly manner, it's as exploitative as anything critics accused Django Unchained of being, minus Tarantino's eye for idiosyncrasy and sense of humor.

    Jan 13, 2015 | Rating: 1/5 | Full Review…
  • The film tells an irresistibly powerful story, in a way that does not shirk the horror. It is unbearable to watch at times, but that is as it should be.

    Jan 13, 2015 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • A film that, despite its surface simplicity, proves to be riven with contradictions to the point of incoherence.

    Jan 13, 2015 | Rating: 2.5/5 | Full Review…
  • Ejiofor projects extraordinary integrity, even nobility - and he holds the camera magnificently. It's a deeply inward, deeply felt performance, surely a cert for one of the many Oscars this film must win.

    Jan 10, 2014 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…
  • One of Britain's greatest living filmmakers offers an outraged, intense and artful examination of American slavery.

    Jan 9, 2014 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for 12 Years a Slave

It is not very clear what McQueen wants with this unflinching but detached story of survival, as he throws together scenes of brutal realism with theatrical dialogue, cartoonish villains and a plot that seems more interested in the torture than offering any new insight into the subject.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

One of the best films of 2013. Nominated for an impressive nine Oscars including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Adapted Screenplay. Winner of four Golden Globes including Best Picture and Best Actor and was victorious in capturing three Oscars including Best Supported Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay and winning the Best Picture Oscar of 2013.

Mister Caple
Mister Caple

Super Reviewer

So far, the best of the Academy Award contenders I've seen. Next would be The Wolf of Wall Street. 12 Years a Slave is a must-see.

Lanning : )
Lanning : )

Super Reviewer

A worthy best picture winner based on the excellent performances and the importance of the subject matter, but this is not an easy movie to watch. If you can't handle graphic torture scenes, stay far away. There's quite of few of them and they are brutal. I admire that the actors and actresses were willing to put themselves through it. The movie itself is a great redemption story and emotionally compelling (especially the ending), but it can be slow at times. It's not something I would probably want to watch again, but absolutely worth it at least once if you can stomach it. The average film-goer that grabs this for a watch based on its awards will not like it more than likely because it is not a mainstream audience movie, but that is not something that should take away its accomplishments on and off the film.

Josh Lewis
Josh Lewis

Super Reviewer

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