Now that 12 Years a Slave is about to open in theaters, the reviews are pouring in. With a Metacritic score so far of 93, 12 Years a Slave, were it not the tinyest bit divisive, would pass Gravity’s score of 96. But there is a small minority of critics who drag it down. Even with those, 93 is higher than most films this year.
Manohla Dargis at the New York Times writes:
“12 Years a Slave” isn’t the first movie about slavery in the United States — but it may be the one that finally makes it impossible for American cinema to continue to sell the ugly lies it’s been hawking for more than a century. Written by John Ridley and directed by Steve McQueen, it tells the true story of Solomon Northup, an African-American freeman who, in 1841, was snatched off the streets of Washington, and sold. It’s at once a familiar, utterly strange and deeply American story in which the period trappings long beloved by Hollywood — the paternalistic gentry with their pretty plantations, their genteel manners and all the fiddle-dee-dee rest — are the backdrop for an outrage.