Brutal and profound, 12 Years a Slave — a telling of Solomon Northup's remarkable true story — is also the year's best feel-worst film. Under Steve McQueen's clinical direction and featuring top-flight performances by Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Lupita Nyong'o, Paul Giamatti, Benedict Cumberbatch, Sarah Paulson and Paul Dano, the drama offers a sobering, unflinching and realistic depiction of the depravities of slavery in a way that has never before been portrayed on-screen. Rather than offer catharsis or comfort, 12 Years forces moviegoers to examine and contemplate America's greatest sin up-close. It's difficult, but essential and brilliant viewing.
Photo Credits: Richard Cartwright/ABC via Getty Images; FOX; Eike Schroter, ABC; Axelle/Bauer-Griffin, FilmMagic; Daniel Zuchnik, WireImage; HBO; FX; Steve Granitz/Getty Images; Jeff Kravitz/Getty Images; Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images