For a better experience on MUBI, update your browser.
4,459 Ratings

12 Years a Slave

Directed by Steve McQueen
United States, 2013


Based on a true account of the antebellum American South, a free black violinist in upstate New York named Solomon Northup is kidnapped and sold into slavery in this Best Picture Academy Award winner.

This film is not currently playing on MUBI but 30 other great films are. See what’s now showing
12 Years a Slave Directed by Steve McQueen

Awards & Festivals

Academy Awards

2014 | 6 nominations including: Best Achievement in Directing

2014 | 3 wins including: Best Motion Picture of the Year

Toronto International Film Festival

2013 | Winner: People's Choice Award

What are people saying?

  • ig_____or's rating of the film 12 Years a Slave

    It clearly is McQueen's most political film, true Oscar-bait material (and rightfully so) that sure must be close to the heart of the director. An outstanding cast, efective script and beautiful cinematography allow for a nicely paced story that just grabs your attention at every single scene. After three films, McQueen is already one of the best, but I hope he doesn't forget his indie origins.

  • Zac Weber's rating of the film 12 Years a Slave

    An unflinching and visceral movie, although somewhat overrated. At times, the violence aims to become less a representation of reality and more a voyeuristic spectacle. There are much better depictions of slavery and slave-life to be found.

  • Quentin Carbonell's rating of the film 12 Years a Slave

    Apart from the regular stops on the landscapes, there is nothing surprising nor interest-grabbing in this piece where creativity is sadly again submitted to a main (and only ?) focus on classical story-telling. The scene between the main character and the weeping woman could be branded "oscar moment, please focus".

  • Mugino's rating of the film 12 Years a Slave

    Emotional and well-acted but ultimately disappointing. I've come to expect McQueen to be able to transcend the subjects of his films, unveiling a surprising or irrevocable truth. Perhaps that happens only when he authors his own material. This film did not rise beyond a straightforward dramatization. We might as well just read the original memoir, which is far more impactful and direct.

  • T. J. Harman's rating of the film 12 Years a Slave

    I don't get the contrarians on this one at all. Maybe McQueen's earlier fans( I'm one) miss his more experimental side or the Important Subject Matter/Oscar bait-y trailers/dramatic Hans Zimmer score/all star cast rub them the wrong way but I think this is perfectly in line with the rest of his work. The topics been done before but (to my mind) never better.

  • ULA ZUHRA's rating of the film 12 Years a Slave

    I don't understand how something so barbaric and animal could be accepted so profoundly in the past. It's inhumane and this film is the most honest portrayal about it. How the other slaves wouldn't bat an eye while another group was being beaten. Incredible. It hurts too much to keep watching, I needed a break every few minutes, I was completely depressed. Patsey, oh Patsey, you deserve ALL the awards for this.

  • OFF_FRAME's rating of the film 12 Years a Slave

    Incredibly powerful, unsettling and emotional. McQueen pulls no punches here in this tale of one man's injustice and brutality set during the very near and dark past of America's slave trade. Highly ambitious, the story is crafted with aplomb. The unflinching honesty, outstanding performances, rich cinematography and supportive score keep this knot of angst would taut and strong. 5 stars

  • Jesse Furgurson's rating of the film 12 Years a Slave

    Shame gave me major doubts about Steve McQueen's whole MO, but this put most of them to rest. He found a subject he couldn't be evasively vague or show-offy about. So often critical hype that a movie on a serious subject is "necessary" turns out to be bullshit, but this is about as necessary a movie as there ever was. McQueen should probably do a screwball comedy about a man who inherits a dolphin next, though.

Related films