User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 779 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 77 out of 779

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  1. Nov 23, 2014
    12 Years Slave es una película de drama convincente y con un guión atractivo, y que aunque la película le falto un poco de chispa, no dejo de ser un buen drama.
  2. Nov 22, 2014
    12 Years a Slave couldn't be more real. It really captures what the world was like at that time. Solomon Northup was portray beautifully and I'm glad that this film managed to capture the Oscar for Best Picture, its a very worthy film. The ending has one of the most intense scenes that I've seen in any movie, I won't spoil it, because its amazing. It must have took a lot of studying in order to create this film. I may have to go out and read Northup's book now. Expand
  3. Nov 11, 2014
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Solomon Northup was a free-born man living in Saratoga, New York married with two children. In 1841 he was kidnapped and sold into slavery. Viewers should not take Northup's story as something individual. Situations like this happened several times over the course of this horrific period, a clear type of holocaust of the African-American human people.

    If you have already watched Hunger (2008) and Shame (2011) you certainly know that Steve McQueen directs his films with merciless realism. His first two films were very dark and perplexing and so is 12 Years a Slave.

    The main theme of McQeen's film agenda is, I believe, about complex human-beings finding themselves in difficult situations. Bobby Sands, Brandon and finally Solomon Northup. Even though their names don't really matter, because they are just characters who represent the difficulties of our everyday lives.

    The film is a cruel examination of slavery in America and McQueen was probably the best director for this kind of material. His long takes and the objectivity of his camera make the movie seem realistic. The movie as an achievement represents perfection at cinematography, production, costumes and editing. Hans Zimmer score is hypnotic and controls the emotions of the audience. And of course a great screenplay by John Ridley who adapted Northup's memoir and created almost all the dialogue.

    Chiwetel Ejiofor gives a powerful and riveting performance as Solomon Northup. After a good stage career and some decent film performances, Ejiofor takes full advantage of his great talent previously shown in Dirty Pretty Things. This is one of the best performances of all time.

    Behind Ejiofor we see an extremely talented supporting cast full of charismatic and great actors. Michael Fassbender and Lupita Nyong'o give career best performances and stand out among Brad Pitt, Paul Giamatti, Benedict Cumberbatch, Sarah Paulson, Paul Dano and others.

    What an incredible, haunting and touching film it is. Highly recommended for everyone who has the gut to watch the truth in a so tense way. Not only the best movie of the year but also one of the greatest and most important achievements in the history of movie-making.
  4. Oct 30, 2014
    Summary: 12 Years a Slave delivers intense sequences of drama, great characterization and quality performances. 84/100 [B+]

    I usually dislike this type of films, because all of them are extremely overrated, but 12 Years a Slave it's not overrated at all, it's quite good actually. Moving on, its execution is slow-paced, it's a bit boring at times. However, it's a great film that relies
    on pain and sadness. I only have some issues with the main character "Solomon Northup", he is uninteresting and dull; Chiwetel Ejiofor does a great job performing this boring character though. On the upside, the film is rich in storytelling and its long running time is not a problem. Although the last 40-30 minutes have long periods of boredom, I enjoyed it for the most part.

    Its final act has a very intense and extremely sad scene with Lupita Nyong'o and the "American Horror Story" star Sarah Paulson. Also, the whole movie is wickedly graphic and awkward to watch at times. In spite of a few boring scenes and a dull main character, 12 Years a Slave it's a quite gruesome experience. The acting is so good and it boasts lots of memorable moments. Of course, its premise is delicate, but the movie is in good hands, its director Steve McQueen directed with care and emotion. So, in conclusion, it's a sentimental film that conveys emotions to the audience and takes to itself seriously (for the obvious reasons). [B+]
  5. Oct 13, 2014
    Wonderful cinematography/photography, deeply visceral and a troubling story, as can be expected. I found the negative commentaries strangely sad and lacking decency. Most of the films detractors found it boring and/or especially vicious. It is a retelling of the Solomon Northrup's story. I'll probably not watch it again as I am not particularly a fan of violence and sadism. That being said, it's brilliantly acted, directed and produced. It is definitely not a pleasure movie, but worthy of praise and observation/viewing. Expand
  6. Oct 5, 2014
    12 Years a Slave is an interesting film that educates us upon just how dark a past we humans have. The movie is extremely well acted and sometimes uncomfortably emotive. Two specific annoyances , though; the director's unnecessary use of over-long static camera shots (We get the point! We don't need to be bashed over the head!) and very famous actors cropping up and breaking immersion (Oooooh... It's Brad Pitt). These points aside, 12 Years a Slave is great. Expand
  7. Sep 25, 2014
    This is the most boring film I have seen in many years. Too loud a soundtrack, poor and indistinct diction, no story line, wooden acting, and filled with unnecessarily graphic violence. The film appears to have been made purely to shock the audience, whereas this viewer simply found the whole film a waste of time, and wishing he was anywhere but in the cinema. Not an experience I would wish to repeat. Expand
  8. Sep 20, 2014
    A truly great movie is one that stays with you long after it is ended.

    A truly great movie is one that stays with you long after it is ended. The emotions and story unshakable; hours, days, weeks and 12 Years A Slave is such a film. From the moment the film opened on the first scene I was racked with anxiety. Not having read any reviews for 12 Years A Slave, I only knew it was
    fearlessly honest about the story of a free man from the North, kidnapped and sold into slavery in Louisiana.

    Such clear purpose and vision could only produce a story of unwavering fortitude such as this. Steve McQueen, the director, is an artist and true visionary for his unflinching portrayal of Mr. Solomon Northup’s story and the unending brutalities and injustices encountered by those in slavery. The knot that persisted in my stomach from start to finish is a direct result of his firm ability to never look away. I felt compelled to honor those who had endured such unspeakable horrors that were once their life by watching and also not looking away, likely Mr. McQueen’s goal. From the moment Mr. Northup is sold, as Platt, you hopelessly seek out for some person to be a refuge as he fights to survive. The story is beautifully told, never allowing you to fully become immersed in the slave’s life, never truly forgetting the freedom that was once had – with the use of flashbacks and remarks reminiscent of a previous life. No scene is wasted, no filler, no false emotions spurred from music, just the hard truth of one man’s life. The saddest truth is Mr. Northup’s story is unremarkable in comparison to thousands of other men, women and children forced and born into slavery.

    Every actor deserves not just a nomination, but an award, to honor their brave and ultimately successful choice to take on such an insurmountable task of each role. Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Lupita Nyong’o, Sarah Paulson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Adepero Oduye and the countless actors who I failed to list or those who played minor roles were impeccable and steadfast and a direct contributor to the movie’s achievement.

    If you are emotionally mature enough to endure such a dramatic, honest and truthful story then I implore you to set apart a day and watch 12 Years A Slave. A day is necessary to allow yourself to process such a magnificent film that is truly in a class of its own surpassing all other films released this year.

    I do understand if you do not, as the movie was incredibly difficult to watch.

    More reviews of recent releases can be found at our website.
  9. Sep 6, 2014
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. It's a viewing only for those who have the stomach, but the emotional roller coaster ride you take along with Solomon Northup is almost perfect. The character development and other key aspects of the film, make it a must watch. The movie almost plays like a Schindler's list meets passion of the Christ. The one negative thing I can say about the film is the unnecessary brutality at some parts and also how it drawn out. Sooner or later I felt like I've been here and done this for two hours already. Though the movie closes off with a fantastic conclusion to a movie that will leave you hating yourself...especially if your white. Though my ancestress weren't in America during slavery and basically Irish people were slaves years before blacks; you still get that terrible sense you did something wrong. You can take this badly or good. I choose neither. It paints a picture of what we (as whites) did to blacks, which is basically the worst thing ever committed by Americans, and gives it to us. It's a very well down movie and does seem to be one of the best movies of 2013. Overall it has some big flaws but rights itself in the end with a extremely emotional finale. 9.1 Expand
  10. Sep 5, 2014
    12 Years a Slave is brilliant and depressing at the same time.The performances in this movie are simply fabulous and definitely Oscar worthy.A true heart beating drama that leaves you speechless.
  11. Sep 2, 2014
    Disturbing and violent--12 Years a Slave is far frome easy to view. Nevertheless, this film is something that each and every American owes themselves to see. Chiwetel Ejiofor and Lupita Nyong'o shine bright in such a dark world.
  12. Aug 1, 2014
    This was a fantastic film, well written and tremendous performances from all the stars. Far better film than I went in expecting.....................
  13. Jul 21, 2014
    12 Years a Slave is without a doubt,the best film of 2013 - it is emotionally captivating, brilliantly acted, and has a wonderfully heart warming story of a man who faced unfathomable adversity.
  14. Jul 19, 2014
    Una grandiosa película, realizada para hacerte llorar, con maravillosas interpretaciones por parte de sus protagonistas y que muestra una parte importante de la historia norteamericana.
  15. Jul 4, 2014
    All dramas need a conflict and a resolution (Resolution doesn't have to be final, it can be a setup for a new conflict). After "12 Years a Slave" has set up a conflict, it just is. And the worst part of it is that it actually has no resolution - the ending is a lousy cheat. It feels like Steve McQueen has forgotten the differences between a drama and a documentary. Shame.
  16. Jun 29, 2014
    '12 Years a Slave' has a very brutal plot of realism of our history during this time. All the same, it's unnecessarily brutal, and in the end, pointless. The acting is good, but wasted on a script that has seldom meaning to the actual violence of slavery. Try 'Uncle Tom's Cabin' for a movie, maybe thirty to forty years ago.
  17. Jun 25, 2014
    Prior to watching this: No comment here.
    Pros: Powerful story. Great acting all around.
    Cons: It may be a great film, but you may not enjoy it.
    4/5 - It's worth paying to watch it in the cinema.
  18. Jun 24, 2014
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Isn't it ridiculous that our society went so far to be politically correct that it crossed the line of common sense? If you don't give an Oscar to a film that is about slavery - you are a racist, if you say something positive about Palestine or Iran - you are anti-Semite, if you give a preference to a Caucasian over African American in the U.S. (based on the skills!) - you are a racist again. if you smile to a woman - you are sexually harassing her (wait, gay harassment is coming, so you won't be allows to smile or make jokes to anyone!).

    Look at all the Critic reviews - nearly EVERYONE gave 100%! This just makes them look ridiculous, as they are afraid to even slightly critisize and not to LOVE a movie about slavery.

    The story plot is quite simple: a free black man is sold to slavery and is later saved. But instead of making the movie multi-dimensional, deep and engaging, the story-tellers "communicate" the story through brutality and violence, as if someone on the face of the earth needs a proof that slavery was bad, and as if slaves were used nearly only as punching bags by sadistic white people.

    Seriously, ask yourself: how many times can you re-watch this film? Will you be enjoying it after re-watching? How many times will you be re-watching it? There were several worthy movies nominated for Oscar this year (e.g. The Wolf of Wall Street or even Captain Phillips), but, no, lets be politically correct and to avoid being labeled racist, lets give the Best Picture to a mediocre film about slavery.
  19. Jun 22, 2014
    12 years a slave is a good film that could have been a great film, it is well worth watching and the conclusion is fantastic, but they somehow felt the need to try just a little bit too hard, when the subject matter is more than powerful enough.

    Chiwetel delivers an excellent performance - as always, yet I don't believe that the movie deserves the shining critical acclaim it has received.
  20. Jun 21, 2014
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. This film is simply overrated. Steve McQueen is by no means a bad director, but his characters are dull and brutal. They spend much of the movie torturing slaves as a sympathy tool, but it fails and makes you feel horrible. His freeing at the end feels meaningless and stupid. I don't understand why I don't like this movie, it simply rubbed me the wrong way. Expand
  21. Jun 8, 2014
    Very powerful and it definitely deserves all the praise and awards. A truly real, well crafted, extraordinary piece of cinema, though it may be a hard watch with the racial themes. I love how director Steve Mcqueen can capture a very lengthy shot and make it so powerful and grand in his movies. This movie is epic and well acted.
  22. Jun 5, 2014
    This movie is a masterpiece! Not much more to say. I had to regain my manliness by punching my pillow in the end of the movie. The last time I had tears like that in my eyes was when watching a sad film, those were tears of joy and happiness. No film ever did this to me.
  23. May 25, 2014
    12 Years a Slave was just astounding im at a loss for words of how great of a film this is. Steve McQueen blew me away with this film and if i had seen this in 2013 no doubt would it had been hard to choose between this and Gravity. Luckally i don't have to pick and that 12 Years a Slave has the best chance to be the best movie in 2014.

    Solomon Northup is a well educated free black man
    that lives in Saratoga, New York with his family. While his family is off on a trip he decides to work for these people claiming to work for the circus he has dinner with the two men then starts to get sick they help him to his room as he is passing out. He wakes up after being drugged and is told he is now a slave heading to the south.

    He ends up being sold to a man named Ford (Cumberbatch) a small mill owner. Ford takes a liking to Solomon but soon has to sell him to Edwin Epps(Fassbender) a crual and ruthless man so he can pay off his debt. Years go by and we see Solomon trying to survive but with each day and with everything he sees it get's harder harder for him to go on. Plan after plan of his keeps failing and he starts to think he may never go home.

    The movie is so powerful and the unbelievable acting of Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michael Fassbender make this film a much watch for everyone I guess for some though it can be hard to watch at times. The cinematography from Steve McQueen was amazing and the Score from Hans Zimmer was breathtaking

    Overall i give it a 8.0
  24. May 24, 2014
    There is maybe one or two scenes that showcase the real artistic strength of this movie, but for the most part, it puts me to sleep. The dialogue is outrageously unrealistic.The definition of an over hyped film.
  25. May 16, 2014
    IT ONE OF THOSE FILMS THAT WHOLE WORLD HAS TO SEE!!!!! MUST SEE FILM OF 2013!!!! The performance from the entire were POWERFUL!!!!

    The film that we will never forget!!!
  26. May 9, 2014
    Steve Mcqueen's "Shame" didn't make much sense but "12 Years A Slave" is beautifully made, which tells a heart wrenching story during dark days of American history. Sean Bobbit's camera work is truly beautiful.
  27. May 5, 2014
    Ok, so I was a little late to the party with this film, eh? Well, better late than never, right? Correct, and I'm so glad I finally got to see this phenomenal movie. This movie touched me so differently than other movies have this year. I'm not even a big fan of movies about history, so this movie is for everyone if you appreciate things like this. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, in this film does an amazing, flawless performance. They perform each scene wonderfully and the writing/script compliments it all. The whole story is truly sad and touching. A free man gets kidnapped and is sold into the cruel subject of slavery. No movie has portrayed this time period in America as accurately and greatly as this. You know how some lame movies about slavery never really show how brutal the caucasians were to the blacks? This movie has brutal scenes that are NOT easy to watch. I'm not gonna lie. The first master Solomon is sold to is actually not a huge psychopath jerk that you'd think these kind of men would be. Man, the second one though? A HUGE maniacal jerk. Michael Fassbender really shows the audience how cruel this character was. Also, one of my other favorite, best characters is Lupita. Every single character, like I said, is perfect and they're equal in terms of quality. Where it was filmed is also a great setting. I'm telling you though, 12 Years a Slave is a movie that is so sympathetic that it really will touch you and break your heart at times. The ending is something that might even make you shed a tear for this amazing man. I did. Don't you already get the gist that this movie is amazing in every aspect? You should, and if you haven't seen this film yet, I highly advise with all my mind. Like I said, it isn't an easy watch. However, that doesn't mean it isn't WORTH watching, and it is in every, single way. Expand
  28. May 3, 2014
    Awful movie. Poor character development. Flat, dull, uninteresting storyline with awful timing. This movie is very much like Passion of the Christ in exploiting an audience with brutality and guilt but with slavery as the theme rather than the crucifixion. All this movie had going for it was a large cast of big names and names aren't enough to make a movie good.
  29. May 3, 2014
    It only missed gas chambers and 6 million to make it a complete propaganda movie, otherwise the Hollywood concentration camps, hanging and random killings were there, however some scenes and situations are believable and the part with "Queen of the fields" make me laugh. The characters aren't that interesting, they don't evolve in any way, the slaves are there to work and the slave owners are there to make sure they work, with added violence. I guess that's what the movie offers, sex and violence, you don't feel like you watched the tragic destiny of anybody, just some hellish joyride brought to you via the magic of Hollywood. The experience of watching this movie left me not feeling like I wasted my time but also that it's not something superb. Expand
  30. May 1, 2014
    An amazing journey to a era of slavery, brutality, and a sad true story of a surviver, by the hand of stunning performances, and one of the most recognised director, Steve McQueen is at his very best, but still a bit slow at some sequences.

Universal acclaim - based on 48 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 47 out of 48
  2. Negative: 0 out of 48
  1. Reviewed by: Emma Dibdin
    Jan 14, 2014
    Visceral, vital and anchored by its earnest performances, this is a potent portrait of a shameful historical truth.
  2. Reviewed by: Ian Freer
    Jan 6, 2014
    Falling between the twin pillars of the art house and prestige period flick, 12 Years A Slave is history lesson as horror film, powerful, visceral and affecting. And after years of being great in everything, Chiwetel Ejiofor shines in a lead worthy of his immense talent.
  3. Reviewed by: Steve Persall
    Nov 7, 2013
    There has never been a movie like 12 Years a Slave, which is Hollywood's shame. Miss it, and that mistake is yours.