This year, we wanted to look back at the nine best picture nominees and remind ourselves — and you — that reactions to film are complicated, hilariously varied and wonderfully individual. So we looked over every comment for every nominee at RottenTomatoes.com, and we brought you some of our favorites.
Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve looked at American Hustle, Her, Gravity, Philomena, Nebraska, Dallas Buyers Club, Captain Phillips and Wolf of Wall Street. But all along, we knew that 12 Years A Slave — which Bob and I both chose as our Best Picture — would be a challenge. We didn’t feel entirely comfortable setting it aside for different treatment, and yet couldn’t quite give it the same treatment, simply because people’s reviews were substantially less silly given a story so profoundly difficult. Following the lead of superstars Claire O’Neill and Kainaz Amaria from the NPR Visuals team, Bob and I have made it through to the end. (Well, almost the end. There may possibly be a little more material for those of you who have come with us this far.)
Bob’s sincere Internet movie review: Harrowing, intimate, unnerving. Chiwetel Ejiofor is shattering as a free black New Yorker kidnapped and sold into slavery, and the imagery — say, the glowing embers of a never-sent letter dying in the blackness as hope dies with them — would resonate even if the story weren’t so powerful.
Linda’s sincere Internet movie review: There’s little to say about how devastating this story is that hasn’t been said — a lot — but the thing is, it’s all true. It really is that much of a gut-punch, and unlike a lot of stories about slavery that have made their way to being well known, it actually is about slavery as a thing that happened to black people, and not a thing that was worried about or fought over by white people. The performances are superb, the direction is meticulous, and the script is just about perfect.
Know your stuff before Oscars day!
- Bob’s full review
- An interview about the accuracy of the film’s depiction of the true story
- A piece about the music
- An interview with Chiwetel Ejiofor and director Steve McQueen
- McQueen and Ejiofor on Fresh Air
- A story about what happened to the film’s subject, Solomon Northup
- A Fresh Air interview with historian David Blight
- A discussion with Slate’s Dana Stevens about “difficult” movies
- An episode of Pop Culture Happy Hour, with Gene Demby and Kat Chow of NPR’s Code Switch, talking about the film