This is Oscar week but the film most likely to win the Best Picture Award is lagging at the box office.
12 Years a Slave is a film that lingers long after initial viewing. I saw it at TIFF* where it stood out among a blur of very good offerings. Mesmerizing and unsettling in equal measure, the film offered a history lesson sliced open to reveal a shattered heart.
The crowd was sombre at the film’s conclusion but on our feet cheering when director Steve McQueen filed in with the cast. Theirs was a superior achievement, a new classic that diminishes every other movie made prior about slavery.
Five months later and that love in has been eclipsed by avoidance. Word of mouth about the film being “too hard to watch” has caused many to stay away.
Maybe that’s why best supporting actress nominee Lupita Nyong’o has engaged in a media blitz, showing a clear command of an implicit understanding: it isn’t good enough to perform magic on screen. Mastering the red carpet is part of the job and requires its own chops.