347 critic reviews
139,638 user reviews
3/4/2018 by J. Hoberman12 Years a Slave is, like The Trial, a trapdoor over the abyss. Although less abrupt than Kafka's novel, the movie wastes little time before plunging its viewer into a nightmare of dehumanization.
1/13/2015 by Steven ReaIt 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.
San Diego Reader
1/13/2015 by Scott MarksIn 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.
1/7/2014 by Tom HuddlestonThe cumulative emotional effect is devastating: the final scenes are as angry, as memorable, as overwhelming as anything modern cinema has to offer.
12/31/2013 by Dana StevensSo overpowering is this film's simple, horrible, and almost entirely true story that it's hard to get enough distance on 12 Years a Slave to poke at its inner workings.
Dallas Morning News
12/31/2013 by Chris VognarEvery scene of 12 Years a Slave, and almost every shot, conveys some penetrating truth about America's original sin.
12/10/2013 by Wesley MorrisThe power of McQueen's movie is in its declaratory style: This happened. That is all, and that is everything.
The New Republic
11/25/2013 by David ThomsonIt is a film that necessity and education demand seeing.
San Francisco Chronicle
10/31/2013 by Mick LaSalleIt provokes recognition in us of the very heart of darkness. It makes the unimaginable imaginable.
10/31/2013 by Moira MacDonald"12 Years a Slave" isn't easy to watch, and it shouldn't be; it's one man's tragedy, but it's also the tragedy of countless thousands of souls beaten down, literally and metaphorically.
Minneapolis Star Tribune
10/31/2013 by Colin CovertThe film is both brutal to watch and stunning to contemplate, powerfully challenging audiences - particularly white audiences - to examine their consciences.
10/31/2013 by Bill GoodykoontzSlavery is revealed for the unrelenting horror that it was. About time.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
10/31/2013 by Calvin WilsonOne of the best and most courageous films of the year.
10/31/2013 by Rene Rodriguez12 Years a Slave is at times difficult to watch but always impossible to turn away from.
San Jose Mercury News
10/29/2013 by Randy MyersThis is not medicine for America to swallow; it's filmmaking of the highest caliber.
10/25/2013 by Tom Long"12 Years a Slave" lays out an institution so twisted and wrong that its honest portrayal has been avoided for centuries. Yes, it's dark and brutal. It needs to be.
Orange County Register
10/24/2013 by Michael SragowOne of the finest historical movies ever made.
Fort Worth Star-Telegram/DFW.com
10/24/2013 by Cary DarlingBut the much talked-about 12 Years a Slave is more than a beautifully shot art piece. It's history made violently real.
10/24/2013 by Ty BurrOther movies and books have gone here, but few so far and with such overwhelming clarity of purpose.
10/23/2013 by James BerardinelliThe film offers a formidable indictment of the cruelty of which human beings are capable.
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