12 Years a Slave Earns Rave Reviews, Oscar Buzz at TIFF

Critics compare the drama to Schindler's List.

Posted: 09/11/2013 08:45 AM EDT

The starting gun in the race to the Oscars has been fired, and this year, audiences have picked an early winner. 12 Years a Slave has left critics floored and is getting unprecedented awards season buzz, according to several reviews. The film, based on the memoirs of a free man named Solomon Northup who is captured and enslaved for over a decade, is being hailed the best film of the year and has drawn comparisons to Steven Spielberg's opus Schindler's List.

"Suspend the betting, close the books, and notify the engraver: I've just seen what will surely be this year's Best Picture winner, and it's 12 Years a Slave," Kyle Buchanan wrote for New York Magazine's Vulture blog. "I'd put my money on a historic Best Director win for Steve McQueen, and I'd mark Chiwetel Ejiofor as the frontrunner for Best Actor."

Adds Buzzfeed's Adam B. Vary, "I am composed enough to say 12 Years A Slave is the best, most emotionally powerful movie I have seen in a decade, at least. If you love cinema and storytelling and are human, you will understand."

Indeed, the film's co-star and producer Brad Pitt declared during a Q&A, "If I never get to participate in a film again, this is it for me. It was a privilege."

If predictions are true, McQueen is on deck to become the first Black filmmaker to ever win the Best Director award at the Oscars. 12 Years a Slave, which also stars Alfre WoodardQuvenzhané Wallis and Benedict Cumberbatch, opens in limited release on October 18.

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(Photo: Regency Enterprises)

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