By Robert Barlow
The votes have been counted and the golden statues awarded. Two of the biggest winners on Hollywood’s biggest night have returned this week to the Little to strut their stuff.
Best Picture winner, 12 Years a Slave, is director Steve McQueen’s unflinching adaptation of the true story of Solomon Northrup, a free black man from upstate New York who is abducted and sold into slavery. Perhaps what made the film, based on Northup’s own novel, so compelling to the Academy, is the sense of hope that permeates through a time when human beings were treated worse than cattle.
Northrup, played in the film by Chiwetel Ejiofor, never gives up fighting and it’s that spirit that makes the film so compelling. Lupita Nyong’o won Oscar gold for her supporting performance as Patsey, a slave girl who does what’s necessary to survive. Even though she is not on screen for a large amount of time, Nyong’o’s performance is pivotal in keeping both Northup and the viewer from not giving up hope.
Outstanding performances also brought another true story to life on film last year. Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto both walked away with Oscars for their performances in Dallas Buyers Club. The film, about a Texas cowboy whose free-wheeling life was overturned in 1985 when he was diagnosed as HIV-positive and given 30 days to live, doesn’t ask the viewer to take sides. Rather, the film simply requires the viewer to be compassionate towards fellow human beings – a message echoed throughout many of last year’s Oscar nominees.
So, before we find out what films and performances will move us this year, we have one last opportunity to see why 12 Years a Slave and Dallas Buyers Club left such an impact on Oscar voters. Both films are currently playing at The Little.
Robert Barlow is a student at St. John Fisher College