12 Years a Slave
Want to See
Not Interested
Rate it ½ star
Rate it 1 star
Rate it 1½ stars
Rate it 2 stars
Rate it 2½ stars
Rate it 3 stars
Rate it 3½ stars
Rate it 4 stars
Rate it 4½ stars
Rate it 5 stars

Available Online

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"The cumulative emotional effect is devastating: the final scenes are as angry, as memorable, as overwhelming as anything modern cinema has to offer."
‑ Tom Huddleston, Time Out
"The power of McQueen's movie is in its declaratory style: This happened. That is all, and that is everything."
‑ Wesley Morris, Grantland
"As with Schindler's List, you won't want to be munching a bucket of popcorn through this."
‑ Graham Young, Birmingham Mail
"This isn't simply an important movie, but a dose of brutal truth that must be confronted, and done so with absolute certainty."
‑ David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org
"McQueen works from ferocity to felicity. Scenes of body horror bear higher emotional stakes than your average horror film. It's a film of few kindnesses and many graces."
‑ Ray Pride, Newcity
"So 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."
‑ Dana Stevens, Slate
"It is a film that necessity and education demand seeing."
‑ David Thomson, The New Republic
"Screenwriter John Ridley takes a story that's episodic in nature and crafts a narrative that manages to build in intensity and emotion for over two hours."
‑ Shawn Hazelett, Under the Radar
"Lupita Nyong'o is the emotional epicenter of the entire film."
‑ Clayton Davis, AwardsCircuit.com
"An uncompromising look at slavery in the Antebellum South. Anchored by career-defining performances by Chiwetel Ejiofor and Lupita Nyong'o, director Steve McQueen brings his assured directorial mind to a harrowing, but necessary picture."
‑ Wesley Lovell, Cinema Sight
"Every scene of 12 Years a Slave, and almost every shot, conveys some penetrating truth about America's original sin."
‑ Chris Vognar, Dallas Morning News
"It provokes recognition in us of the very heart of darkness. It makes the unimaginable imaginable."
‑ Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle
"Driven by the best performances of the year, bold directing, and a compelling true story that reminds us of our nation's shameful, inhumane past, it is a film destined to enjoy a reputation as one of the greatest films ever produced about slavery."
‑ Mark Hughes, Forbes
"Ejiofor's low-key, naturalistic acting mode is ideal for conveying Northup's self-control and intelligence. And Fassbender avoids turning the malevolent Epps into a one-note nemesis."
‑ John P. McCarthy, America Magazine
"There are no false pretenses or unnecessary charging, instead, there is patience and time. The moments of suspension often become the biggest delight."
‑ Anna Tatarska, Movie Mezzanine
More reviews for 12 Years a Slave on Rotten Tomatoes