Trolling #28: 12 Years a Slave SUCKS!

12 Years splash

Well the Oscars are over, and by now we're all trying to soldier our way through a hazy hangover resulting from the usual bouts of disappointment. The phrase “How could __________ not have won?” will be uttered pretty constantly throughout the day, and the hateful residue of your favorite getting snubbed will remain settled in your mind for many weeks, months, possibly the rest of your life (case in point: I'm still upset L.A. Confidential didn't win Best Picture back in 1997).

The big winner last night was Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave, the film version of Solomon Northup's 1853 autobiography about how he was kidnapped and sold into slavery for, well, twelve years. 12 Years a Slave has been endlessly praised by critics (it enjoys a shocking high 96% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes), and has now been granted the highest possible honor by the film community. By vote, it was considered the best film of 2013.

Of course, ask any critic or audience member, and they'll tell you that it wasn't the best movie of 2013. Most critics would choose something more soulful like Blue is the Warmest Color, and most audience member might skew more populist, selecting a crowd-pleaser like Iron Man Three. Here at Trolling, it is our habit to subvert dominant paradigms and espouse unpopular opinions, so we'll have to openly declare the following: 12 Years a Slave SUCKS! Just because you're declared Best Picture doesn't mean you're any good. Maybe, in fact, you're awful. Let's abuse and disabuse.  

As I said, the detail is impeccable, and when it comes to a laundry list of the injustices suffered by slaves during the darkest period of American history, 12 Years a Slave does not look away. But, for the first time, I feel like a film could have perhaps benefited by being even more melodramatic. 12 Years a Slave is a lovely thing to look at, but at the end of the day, it feels more like torture porn than drama. It may be the Best Picture, but it sure ain't the best picture.

Until next week, let the hate mail flow.  


Witney Seibold is the head film critic for Nerdist, and a contributor on the CraveOnline Film Channel, and co-host of The B-Movies Podcast. You can read his weekly articles Trolling, and The Series Project, and follow him on “Twitter” at @WitneySeibold, where he is slowly losing his mind.