Capping one of the tightest races in recent
Adapted by McQueen and screenwriter John Ridley from Solomon Northup's 19th century memoir, the film tells the true story of a free black man living in New York who is drugged, kidnapped and sold into slavery in Louisiana.
Owing largely to its often graphic depictions of lynching, whipping and rape — "Either I was going to make a movie about slavery or I wasn't," McQueen said — the film proved difficult to watch for many people, including Oscar voters.
Although “12 Years a Slave” tells a distinctly American story, it was made by an internationally diverse team of filmmakers. McQueen is an English director living in Amsterdam, star
Distributed by Fox Searchlight, the studio behind previous best picture winner “
The film had been nominated for numerous other awards, winning top prizes from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, the Producers Guild of America (where it landed in an unprecedented tie with “Gravity”) and the