One of the reasons “12 Years a Slave” works so well is that it’s rather naturally structured as a thriller. As the film follows Solomon Northup from freedom to shackles, his circumstances — kidnapped in Washington D.C. and sold into slavery in the south — are just terrifying, and director Steve McQueen follows that natural structure with convention and invention in equal measure.
As reported here, the film was a huge hit at the Telluride Film Festival over the Labor Day weekend. It’s all set for the Toronto fest on Friday and will certainly spin further into assured awards prospects (and those bemoaning that it was so strongly considered in such terms at Telluride will surely use the same “O” word in Toronto that the rest of us used in Colorado). Indeed, by the end of this week, when word on another fall film finally hits, I expect the conversation may well shift to “12 Years a Slave” being one of two early frontrunners for the Best Picture Oscar. Maybe three, as “Gravity” certainly is a contender for the win in the eyes of some.
But, again, there are lots of bends in the road ahead. I’m just glad the movies, for the most part anyway, are so good (so far).
A new featurette for McQueen’s film, which debuted at Yahoo! Movies, does a great job of setting the scene. Interviews with McQueen, star Chiwetel Ejiofor and producers Dede Gardner and Bill Pohlad are sprinkled throughout. Have a look below.
“12 Years a Slave” arrives in limited release on Oct. 18.