Metascore
97

Universal acclaim - based on 48 Critics What's this?

User Score
8.0

Generally favorable reviews- based on 866 Ratings

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Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 47 out of 48
  2. Negative: 0 out of 48
  1. Reviewed by: Tim Robey
    Sep 14, 2013
    100
    Elicits from McQueen a directing job that's compellingly humble but also majestic, because his radical showmanship is turned to such precise, human purposes.
  2. Reviewed by: Steve Persall
    Nov 7, 2013
    100
    There has never been a movie like 12 Years a Slave, which is Hollywood's shame. Miss it, and that mistake is yours.
  3. Reviewed by: Owen Gleiberman
    Oct 16, 2013
    100
    It's Ejiofor's extraordinary performance that holds 12 Years a Slave together.
  4. Reviewed by: Liam Lacey
    Oct 17, 2013
    100
    Far from the push-button catharsis offered by most Hollywood redemption tales, the work is sober and deliberate, a mix of visceral intensity and artful design.
  5. Reviewed by: Steve Davis
    Oct 31, 2013
    100
    Brutal yet elegant, 12 Years a Slave is a beautifully rendered punch to the gut about the most shameful chapter in American history.
  6. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    Oct 17, 2013
    90
    It’s the unhappiest happy ending I’ve ever seen, a moment that makes you weep not just for this one man who found his way back to freedom, but for all those men and women who never knew it in the first place.
  7. Reviewed by: Ed Gonzalez
    Sep 13, 2013
    50
    Steve McQueen's film practically treats Solomon Norhtup as passive observer to a litany of horrors that exist primarily for our own education.

See all 48 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Negative: 25 out of 192
  1. Feb 28, 2014
    10
    My wife and I ended up watching this movie pretty much on a whim after hearing a few things, and it turns out that that was a great move. TheMy wife and I ended up watching this movie pretty much on a whim after hearing a few things, and it turns out that that was a great move. The movie is quit good, so if you're on the fence for whatever reason it's an entertaining, sad, and eye-opening movie worth your time. Expand
  2. Jan 16, 2014
    10
    This movie is the best of 2013, (while Gravity is my favorite), this movie deserves Best Picture Oscar, the acting is great, Chiwetel EjioforThis movie is the best of 2013, (while Gravity is my favorite), this movie deserves Best Picture Oscar, the acting is great, Chiwetel Ejiofor was great, and Michael Fassbender is great, now some people complain that the movie is brutal, and that's how it's meant to be, because that's how slavery was in real life, and this movie perfectly captures that emotion, that's why it is a masterpiece, and why it deserves the Oscar. Expand
  3. Oct 18, 2013
    10
    Chiwetel Ejiofor is so impressive in this incredibly intense, visceral film. (When it ended, nobody in my theater moved for a period of time,Chiwetel Ejiofor is so impressive in this incredibly intense, visceral film. (When it ended, nobody in my theater moved for a period of time, and there was no round of applause mostly, it seemed, because of the shock of it all. Clapping didn’t seem like the right thing to do.) The fact that we experience the story from the perspective of a kidnapped free man makes the film instantly relatable. I was so happy to have watched all of Tom Fontana’s excellent “Copper” which features an African American civil war veteran doctor living in New York, and all of his family’s struggles in Five Points. Solomon, a New Yorker kidnapped from Washington DC, could be any of us. The Southern landscape as it likely existed in those days provides such a beautiful-yet- eerie backdrop to this movie. What I particularly appreciate the fact that all the shots are confined you never see very far into the distance. There’s never any perspective on things. When the boat transporting the kidnapped south moves, you see the paddlewheels. On the plantations, you see the three or four acres where the slaves live. You never get any aerial shots, which is so effective in giving you a disoriented, lost feel. Even if Solomon wants to escape, he has no idea where the hell he is, and neither do we. The acting in general is uniformly excellent. Fassbender? Wow. Not since Ralph Fiennes in Schindler’s List has an actor put out so completely for the detestable guy role and to such great effect. Expand
  4. Jul 19, 2014
    9
    Una grandiosa película, realizada para hacerte llorar, con maravillosas interpretaciones por parte de sus protagonistas y que muestra unaUna grandiosa película, realizada para hacerte llorar, con maravillosas interpretaciones por parte de sus protagonistas y que muestra una parte importante de la historia norteamericana. Expand
  5. Nov 22, 2014
    8
    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 and12 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
  6. Mar 21, 2014
    7
    I had very high expectations for this movie this movie when I saw all of the trailers and it certainly did not live up to those standards inI had very high expectations for this movie this movie when I saw all of the trailers and it certainly did not live up to those standards in the slightest. I was expecting so much more and it did not deserve best picture or best supporting actress in the oscars. Jennifer Lawrence from American hustle was much better than Lupita Nyongo, and American hustle, Dallas buyers club and captain Phillips were all better than this movie. The constant repeat of the same scene just to waste time was really useless. I thought Fassbenders performance was great but overall..One of Steve McQueens more disappointing films and I'd give it 7/10 at a big push! Expand
  7. Sep 25, 2014
    0
    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, andThis 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

See all 192 User Reviews

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