In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb_6svpck54r9k0mz9xcfzswrxcin

Winter Sleep

The running time of his new picture Winter Sleep, three hours and change, suggests weight, but at it happens, this movie struck me as both…

Thumb_oax1ohn3ltgrf3vlh5ff28w0yjn

Mr. Turner

Filmmaker Mike Leigh's biography of the landscape painter J.M.W. Turner is what critics call "austere"—which means it's slow and grim and deliberately hard to love—yet…

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb_xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Thumb_jrluxpegcv11ostmz1fqha1bkxq

Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Channel Archives
Primary_12yearsaslave-2013-6

If We Picked the Winners: Best Picture

In anticipation of the Academy Awards, we polled our contributors to see who they thought should win the Oscar. Once we had our winners, we asked various writers to make the case for our selection in each category. Here, Matt Zoller Seitz makes the case for our pick for the Best Picture of 2013: "12 Years a Slave".


The films nominated as Best Picture tend to be either exceptionally well-made or "important," rarely both. The "important" films are often merely adequate as art, sometimes less than that, but we collectively avoid complaining about this too loudly, for fear it will make us seem insensitive to the subject. The well-made, sometimes brilliant movies rarely get acknowledged because they are "merely" excellent—thrilling, funny, scary, beautiful—and lack that extra ennobling aspect that the Academy loves.

Once in a great while, though, you get something like Steve McQueen and John Ridley's "12 Years a Slave," a movie written, directed and acted with such discernment that it can be watched and re-watched and re-watched yet again, purely as an art object. Considering the staggering emotion summoned by the film's account of Solomon Northup's odyssey from freedom to slavery and back, this is a remarkable achievement. The movie is difficult to watch, often intensely brutal, yet ultimately humane and life-affirming, never crossing the line into either midnight movie excess or pointlessly arty affectation. If Stanley Kubrick had made a film about American slavery, it might have looked and moved somewhat like this one, always thinking about shots as shots and scenes as scenes and themes as themes, yet always tying every element, whether central or marginal, to the film's emotional spine: a tale of what it means, physically, to be enslaved as opposed to free. In its intelligence, passion and craft, this is an amazing movie.

Click here for links to all our winners.

Popular Blog Posts

Who do you read? Good Roger, or Bad Roger?

This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...

The Ten Best Films of 2014

The ten best films of 2014, as chosen by the film critics of RogerEbert.com.

10 Underrated Female Performances of 2014

Ten underrated female performances from 2014 worthy of Oscar consideration.

More on That Later: The Truth About “Serial”

Some thoughts on the hit podcast "Serial".

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus