12 Years a Slave

Critics Consensus

It's far from comfortable viewing, but 12 Years a Slave's unflinchingly brutal look at American slavery is also brilliant -- and quite possibly essential -- cinema.



Total Count: 358


Audience Score

User Ratings: 139,947
User image

12 Years a Slave Videos

Watch it now

12 Years a Slave Photos

Movie Info

Chiwetel Ejiofor stars as Solomon Northup, the New York State citizen who was kidnapped and made to work on a plantation in New Orleans in the 1800s. Steve McQueen (Hunger) directs from a script he co-wrote with John Ridley, based in part by Northup's memoir. Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Benedict Cumberbatch, Sarah Paulson, and Paul Giamatti co-star. ~ Jeremy Wheeler, Rovi


Chiwetel Ejiofor
as Solomon Northup
Sarah Paulson
as Mrs. Epps
Paul Dano
as Tibeats
Alfre Woodard
as Mistress Shaw
Dwight Henry
as Uncle Abram
Bryan Batt
as Judge Turner
Kelsey Scott
as Anne Northup
Quvenzhane Wallis
as Margaret Northup
Tony Bentley
as Mr. Moon
Taran Killam
as Hamilton
Bill Camp
as Radburn
Chris Chalk
as Clemens
John McConnell
as Jonus Ray
Richard Holden
as Fitzgerald
Liza J. Bennett
as Mistress Ford
Andy Dylan
as Treach
Andre Shanks
as Victim 1
Scott M. Jefferson
as Master Shaw
Topsy Chapman
as Slave Spiritual Singer 1
Devin Maurice Evans
as Slave Spiritual Singer 2
Jay Huguley
as Sheriff
Willo Jean-Baptiste
as Margaret's Husband
Cameron Zeigler
as Alonzo Northup
View All

News & Interviews for 12 Years a Slave

Critic Reviews for 12 Years a Slave

All Critics (358) | Top Critics (59) | Fresh (341) | Rotten (17)

  • It speaks to the courage and resilience of one man, the savagery of many, and the potential, for both good and for ill, in us all.

    Jan 13, 2015 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…
  • In its own saintly manner, it's as exploitative as anything critics accused Django Unchained of being, minus Tarantino's eye for idiosyncrasy and sense of humor.

    Jan 13, 2015 | Rating: 1/5 | Full Review…
  • The film tells an irresistibly powerful story, in a way that does not shirk the horror. It is unbearable to watch at times, but that is as it should be.

    Jan 13, 2015 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • A film that, despite its surface simplicity, proves to be riven with contradictions to the point of incoherence.

    Jan 13, 2015 | Rating: 2.5/5 | Full Review…
  • Ejiofor projects extraordinary integrity, even nobility - and he holds the camera magnificently. It's a deeply inward, deeply felt performance, surely a cert for one of the many Oscars this film must win.

    Jan 10, 2014 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…
  • One of Britain's greatest living filmmakers offers an outraged, intense and artful examination of American slavery.

    Jan 9, 2014 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for 12 Years a Slave

  • Mar 29, 2016
    There are so many movies that has had a huge impact on our world as we know it, and unfortunately, not so many people watch these movies. This, however, is a movie that I believe should be shown in history classes in school's because, this really is a movie that everybody should watch. Steve McQueen once again shows us his beautiful range in this beautiful movie that surely is a so-called masterpiece.
    Lasse G Super Reviewer
  • Sep 14, 2015
    So much more than the "white guilt" label it's unfairly gotten. Steve McQueen continues to prove himself as one of the best working directors today. It's his most mainstream movie to date but this proves to me that he really know what he's doing and is careful in his selection of what to make. Everything about this movie is exceptional.
    John K Super Reviewer
  • Feb 23, 2015
    I was expecting more from this movie. While it was a very sad film, it was very slow-moving at times.
    Erin C Super Reviewer
  • Feb 17, 2015
    Well shot and emotionally resonant, albeit quite overrated (still better than the even more overrated Django Unchained). People seem to fear thinking freely when a movie deals with such a historically--and contemporarily--unpleasant subject.
    Jeff L Super Reviewer

12 Years a Slave Quotes

News & Features