Fox Searchlight and The Academy Get It Right!
Black Hollywood stole the show as Will Smith announced “12 Years A Slave” for Best Picture on Sunday night at the 86th annual Academy Awards. “12 Years a Slave” took home the Oscar for Best Motion Picture of the Year. It was just as exciting to witness Lupita Nyong’o win for Best Supporting Actress and John Ridley for Best Writing and Adapted Screenplay, highlighting the phenomenal execution of this film.
Although Chiwetel Ejiofor did not win for Best Actor, the film prevailed throughout the night. The film won for its jarring, bold and realistic portrayal of Solomon Northup’s life in slavery.
"12 Years a Slave" was a top favorite in Hollywood throughout the award season, sweeping awards from Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture, BAFTA Film Award for Best Film, and gaining recognition at the Spirit Awards. Brad Pitt’s production company, Plan B Entertainment along with Regency Enterprises, Film4 Productions, and Summit Entertainment produced the film and Fox Searchlight distributed it. This film required the unique contributions from the following; as mentioned previously, Steve McQueen directed the film, John Ridley wrote the Screen play, and Anthony Katagas, Arnon Milchan, Bill Pohlad, Dede Gardner, and Jeremy Kleiner joined Brad Pitt in producing the film. The film premiered last year in October sending waves through Hollywood as it depicted an outstanding performance honoring a former enslaved man and his traumatic experience.
The film goes beyond the Oscars, being recognized as an exceptional performance and picture.
"I dedicate this award to all the people who have endured slavery and to the 21 million people around the world that still suffer slavery today,” McQueen said.
“It doesn’t escape me for one moment that so much joy in my life is because of so much pain in someone else’s life,” Nyong’o stated in her acceptance speech.
McQueen and Nyong’o captured the essence of the film.
The film portrayal follows the true story of Solomon Northup during the antebellum period in the US. He was a free Black man from upstate New York, who was abducted and sold into slavery.
African American heritage extends back to slavery where Blacks were enslaved mentally and physically. The film captures the harsh realities of a group of people being treated as property rather than human runs deep within the Black community.
The film’s victory is pertinent to Black filmmakers and viewers as well as mainstream Hollywood for it’s a superb execution. McQueen’s film is not only a film, but also an onscreen memoir of Solomon Northup.
Many of us may view the film from a personal standpoint as we can connect with our ancestor’s narrative brought to the screen.
The film serves as an accomplishment in film and in history and should not be taken for granted.
While “Gravity,” “Frozen” and “Dallas Buyer’s Club” won big, “12 Years a Slave” outshined them all as it’s presence garnered the attention of Oscar host Ellen DeGeneres who stated “so many different possibilities. Possibility No. 1: “12 Years a Slave” wins best picture. Possibility No. 2: You’re all racists.” DeGeneres’s jester to poke fun at the political and social context surrounding the film can be taken lightly; however, last night’s win was not a humorous moment, but a courageous one, noting McQueen’s words that symbolize the film based on telling an important story.
McQueen stated “everyone deserves not just to survive but to live. This is the most important legacy of Solomon Northup. I dedicate this award to all the people who have endured slavery.”
“12 Years a Slave” made history for the first Black director to win Best Motion Picture; McQueen exceled as the head of the film bringing Solomon Northup’s life to the screen.
“And we all get to stand up here tonight because of one man who brought us all together to tell that story. And that is the indomitable Mr. Steve McQueen,” Brad Pitt on saluting McQueen for his efforts create the film.
Similar to Lee Daniel’s “The Butler,” the film explores the complexities of African American history in film, yet is a complete turnaround from Quentin Tarantino’s postmodern spaghetti Western-slave narrative, “Django Unchained.”
Lupita Nyong’o topped off her booming career winning an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in “12 Years a Slave.” From her beauty to her fashion, her portrayal as the ill-treated Patsey has set her as someone to be reckoned. The actress stated in speech, “When I look down at this golden statue, may it remind me and every little child that no matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid.” Her triumph inspires Black girls who now may feel that there is place for them in Hollywood.
“All the praise goes to Solomon Northup. “Those are his words, that is his life,” said Oscar winner John Ridley on his adapted screenplay acceptance speech.
“12 Years a Slave” is an inspiring film to not only be praised by Hollywood for its entertainment value, but as a historical film that calls the attention of the Black community.
Other Black films to make the Oscar list were “20 Feet from Stardom’ for Best Documentary.