It was not so promising for a black director to be an Academy Awards winner a decade ago, but Steve McQueen – the third black candidates in this category – might be the lucky one with this historic breakthrough.
Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave stars Chiwetel Ejifor as Solomon Northup, a free black man in 1840s America. He makes his living as a fiddle player, and his wife is a teacher. He is shanghaied by a pair of nefarious white men, and soon finds himself on a ship headed to New Orleans where he is informed he will be called Platt and is sold into slavery by an unscrupulous businessman (Paul Giamatti). As he toils away for the kindhearted but conflicted plantation owner Mr. Ford (Benedict Cumberbatch), who recognizes that Platt is both educated and an artist, he butts head with Ford’s underlings, especially the casually cruel Tibeats (Paul Dano). After they have a violent altercation, Ford fears for his slave’s life and sells him to Mr. Epps (Michael Fassbender), an alcoholic sadist who owns a cotton plantation. Though Epps reads from the bible to his property, as he frequently refers to his slaves, he is himself not immune to sins of the flesh. He has taken the young Patsey (Lupita Nyong’o) – his best cotton picker — as his lover, and this doesn’t sit well at all with his severe wife (Sarah Paulson), whose particular hatred for blacks and her jealousy fuels her many degrading actions toward Patsey. Solomon bides his time, attempts to preserve a modicum of self-respect, and waits for the chance to reclaim his rightful name as well as his family.
The 43 years old British director enslaved our hearts first with his dazzling portrait of Bobby Sands in “Hunger”, where he first experimented his genuine way of projecting the traumas of a man on Michael Fassbender , the method that he continued in “Shame” with him and in “12 Years a Slave” with “Chiwetel Ejiofor” and “Lupita Nyong’o” – transparent physicality, bodies baring the shame of carrying the idea of freedom, trembling from the brute circumstance, incarcerating the playful soul of its owner.Usually disturbed, abused and imprisoned to the extent that embarrassment of body`s lack of ability to unchain the untameable mind.