Winner: 12 Years a Slave
Other nominees: American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity, Her, Nebraska, Philomena, The Wolf of Wall Street
Well, there are hardly any surprises here, with virtually every film commentator predicting ‘12 Years a Slave’’s win. It is easy to see why there was hardly any competition at all in this category, too. With the greatest of respects to other nominated films, ‘12 Years a Slave’ just stands out in terms of its artistic merit and, most importantly, the impact it produces. I don’t mind if ‘Gravity’ sweeps every award out there, as long as the Best Picture goes to its most deserved contender. Arguably, ’12 Years a Slave’ is the only film in the category to which you can comfortably assign the word ‘masterpiece’. It is a great achievement for everyone involved in the production of this film, especially for its director, Steve McQueen.
The story is told through a character who introduces himself as Fenton Meiks (Matthew McConaughey). He tells an FBI agent (Powers Boothe) of his childhood – a family of three: father (Bill Paxton) and his two sons. Initially a happy family, things turn for the worse when the father begins to experience a series of religious visions, prompting him to commit a series of gruesome murders. As the father’s insanity escalates, his two sons are forced to confront their own sense of right and wrong.
What is instantly evident is that ‘Frailty’s narrative and story flow are exemplary. Disturbing, shocking and totally thought-provoking, the film succeeds in inducing the atmosphere of tension, thrill and, finally, disbelief. The film grows to become really disturbing, maybe largely because it involves young children, reminiscing the scenes from such truly horrifying films as ‘Sleepers’ (1996) and ‘The Girl Next Door’ (2007).