A film based on the true story of Solomon Northup, a free black man living in upstate New York before the Civil War who was abducted and sold into slavery. This latest effort from director Steve McQueen is a towering achievement, one of the year’s bravest and most uncompromising films. Chiwetel Ejiofor is a lock for an Oscar nomination as Northup, forced to work on cotton plantations, one of them run by the despicable Edwin Epps, played by Michael Fassbender in a vicious and brilliant performance. McQueen goes right at his topic, showing slavery for the horror it was, and Ejiofor puts a character on the screen that you will never forget. If you were one of the few people who saw 2011’s Pariah, you know that Adepero Oduye is a stellar actress, as she further proves here as Eliza, a woman sold into slavery and taken from her children. Relative newcomer Lupita Nyong’o is equally heartbreaking as Patsey, a victim of Epps’s sick abuse. The movie is shocking, violent and unrelenting in its mission to show this country in its very worst, most shameful days. It’s about time somebody had the guts to make a movie like this one.

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