virtualDavis

ˈvər-chə-wəlˈdā-vəs Serial storyteller, poetry pusher, digital doodler, flâneur.
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12 Years a Slave Wins Oscar

12 Years a Slave (doodle by virtualDavis)

12 Years a Slave (doodle by virtualDavis)

In a triumph long deferred, “12 Years a Slave” won the best picture Oscar at the 86th Academy Awards… “I’d like to thank this amazing story,” said Steve McQueen, the British-born filmmaker… “Everyone deserves not just to survive, but to live…” (NYTimes.com)

The endless Academy Awards ceremony defeated me before I could witness rightful victory, but this morning I awoke to discover the news emblazoned everywhere. 12 Years a Slave Wins Oscar. 12 Years a Slave Wins Oscar!

I was not in the least surprised that 12 Years a Slave took the coveted top trophy. In fact I would have been dismayed if it had been passed over. The storytelling and characters impacted me profoundly and enduringly.

The film is gripping and visceral… unfiltered and unforgiving. McQueen captures slavery in its least sympathetic and most complex iteration I can recall, plunging into it’s insidious, malignant effect, dehumanizing slave, master end every one in between. (I Want to Live: Praise for 12 Years a Slave)

Steve McQueen Does Not Win Oscar

12 Years a Slave wins Oscar, but the film’s Director does not. There’s inevitably some debate over whether or not Director Steve McQueen deserved to win Best Director which was instead awarded to Alfonso Cuarón for Gravity. I don’t know. There’s no question in my mind that 12 Years a Slave was a superior film, but how much of that credit is owed the director is an assessment that exceeds my knowledge or opinion.

Chiwetel Ejiofor Does Not Win Oscar

I am disappointed that Chiwetel Ejiofor did not receive and Oscar for Best Actor in a leading role for his riveting portrayal of Solomon Northup. Matthew McConaughey was excellent in Dallas Buyers Club, but Ejiofor transcended mere excellence. He embodied a character, an historic figure and history itself in a was that will remain etched into the psyche of everyone who watches the film. See why the Academy doesn’t ask me to weigh in? ;-)

Lupita Nyong’o Wins Oscar!

My disappointment that Chiwetel Ejiofor did not win an Oscar is partly tempered by the fact that Lupita Nyong’o won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. She was outstanding, and she deserved to win. I can’t wait to see what film she transforms next.

 

I Want to Live: Praise for 12 Years a Slave

12 Years a Slave (doodle by virtualDavis)

12 Years a Slave (doodle by virtualDavis)

Almost 24 hours after watching 12 Years a Slave (movie) I still can’t shake it. The story and characters won’t let go. They’re both still gripping me in technicolor evil. And grace.

If you haven’t seen this Director Steve McQueen’s unflinchingly candid glimpse into the enslavement of free black man Solomon Northup, you need to.

TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE is based on an incredible true story of one man’s fight for survival and freedom. In the pre-Civil War United States, Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery. Facing cruelty (personified by a malevolent slave owner, portrayed by Michael Fassbender), as well as unexpected kindnesses, Solomon struggles not only to stay alive, but to retain his dignity. In the twelfth year of his unforgettable odyssey, Solomon’s chance meeting with a Canadian abolitionist (Brad Pitt) will forever alter his life. (Fox Searchlight: 12 Years a Slave)

The film is gripping and visceral. And fair warning, it’s also totally unfiltered and unforgiving. McQueen captures slavery in its least sympathetic and most complex iteration I can recall, plunging into it’s insidious, malignant effect, dehumanizing slave, master end every one in between. 12 Years a Slave is a genuinely immersive experience absent special effects or melodrama. McQueen deploys somewhat unconventional storytelling techniques such as an excruciatingly drawn out scene with Northup hanging from a noose, barely clinging to life, while life returns to normal around him. The juxtaposition of a slow-motion murder amidst quotidian chores and playing children is devastating.

While virtually every actor in 12 Years a Slave delivers a superb performance, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Solomon Northup is riveting. He manages to exude grace in the face of devastating events, transforming a demanding, almost impossibly complex character into one of the most powerful and believable film roles I’ve witnessed in years. Lupita Nyong’o, Michael Fosbender and Brad Pitt also deliver exceptional performances, but I’ll do them and the film injustice if I continue. Just see it for yourself. Here’s a trailer to motivate you.

Find 12 Years a Slave

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