Chiwetel Ejiofor

Oscar Predictions 2014: Actor

The Best Actor field this year is a bit different than normal. Christian Bale is the only nominee to have won an Oscar, and that was in the Best Supporting Actor category. More over, two of the nominees (Chiwetel Ejiofor and Matthew McConaughey) have never received a nomination before. It’s not that these guys are newcomers. They’ve been acting for years, some of them in respected and popular films. The Academy is just finally getting around to giving them some recognition. Still, each nomination comes with a social issue attached to it. Whether it be the greed of American Hustle and The Wolf of Wall Street, the plight of the elderly in Nebraska, slavery and white guilt in 12 Years a Slave, or good old fashioned AIDS baiting for the Academy voters in Dallas Buyers Club, these nominations could be seen as a nod to the issue rather than the actor. (This could explain why Robert Redford and Tom Hanks were shut out of the contest this year: no social issues with lost yachters and captains who thwart Somali pirate attacks.) No matter what, someone will be winning his first Best Actor Oscar. Keep reading for a look at all five nominees for Best Actor along with my predicted winner in red…

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Scene of 2013

Far more movies than any one person can watch get produced and released every year. That’s why film fans get so anal retentive and self-important when they’re trying to decide what they’re going to declare their favorite film of the year. When you take movies as seriously as people like us do, year-end ratings and rankings can get pretty stressful. So just imagine how much harder it is to try to narrow down every scene that gets shot for every movie each year to one, definitive, best scene of the year. It’s enough to produce a healthy layer of flop sweat. Last year it was an accordion interlude, but this year we’re naming two scenes as our Scene of the Year because of how closely they work in tandem with one another. They’re also about the furthest from last year’s winner as you can get. Without further ado, the FSR staff has chosen The Hanging Scene and The Whipping Scene from director Steve McQueen’s affecting historical drama 12 Years a Slave as the Scene(s) of 2013.

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If you’re reading this, chances are pretty high that you’ve got some vested interest in Star Wars. And if that’s the case, than you must have seen the same thing I did this weekend: Chiwetel Ejiofor‘s face plastered across every film news site in the known universe, with the words Star Wars: Episode VII following shortly after. The anticipation swells as you think of Ejiofor and Star Wars as a perfect match; he’s got talent and charisma galore, and Serenity proves he’s no stranger to the space opera action adventure. His name even sounds a little like “Chewie.” That’s got to mean something. And then you actually read beyond the words “Chiwetel Ejiofor” and “Star Wars” and that giddy excitement transforms back into the same dull Star Wars-less banality of everyday life. Here’s the connection The Times discovered between Ejiofor and Episode VII director J. J. Abrams. “The British actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, front-runner in this year’s Oscar race, is sitting in the lobby of J. J. Abrams’ office.” Then, when prodded about Ejiofor’s office-lobby involvement, Abrams drops this juicy morsel: “I can’t discuss casting. But he’s a very talented gentleman.”

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ejiofor kinky boots

This weekend, the exceptional 12 Years a Slave began its initial expansion into wider release. Currently, the Steve McQueen film is playing in 123 theaters around the country, so a lot of people are just getting the chance to enjoy its brilliant performances and to be horrified by its most powerful scenes. When they exit the cinema, while wiping the tears from their eyes and attempting to rid their throats of the lump that’s been lodged there for at least half an hour, audiences are going to be curious about who Lupita Nyong’o is and where they’ve seen Chiwetel Ejiofor before. They’ll also be interested to know that they’ve just watched a remake, of sorts. 12 Years a Slave still has a ways to go before it reaches the mainstream, Middle America mall crowds. But when it does end up on a few thousand screens and watched by millions more, this guide will be here to recommend past films from the makers and stars of the movie, as well as some other relevant titles worth checking out.

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12 Years a Slave

Editor’s note: Our review of 12 Years a Slave originally ran during this year’s TIFF, but we’re re-posting it as the film opens today in theatrical release. In certain circles, the excellence of Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave has just been assumed for months now – after all, how could a film that features such a talented cast, a gifted director, and a dramatically ripe true life tale not be a masterpiece? It’s a dangerous business, the kind of prognostication and hype that can exist before even one frame of a film is shot, but McQueen’s latest is the rare bird that lives up to its hype (and then some).

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12 Years a Slave Violin

12 Years a Slave tackles many issues throughout its narrative, doing so in the elegant and unflinchingly honest way only director Steve McQueen can deliver. Hans Zimmer’s score works well to reflect the action on screen, playing almost like a horror score at times, but music becomes more than just something accenting the background and driving the emotion, it is also a major part of the story. Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is a violinist and his talents have not only helped provide him a comfortable life, they have made him a respected member of his community. Solomon is certainly skilled, but it is also clear that he simply loves to play. Unfortunately, that love leads him down a path that changes his life forever. In Saratoga, New York, Solomon is a free man who plays for pleasure and additional income, but once he is kidnapped and shipped south, all the talents and skills that made him a valued member of society could now get him killed. Freeman (Paul Giamatti), the slave trader in charge of getting the highest price for his latest “stock,” quickly utilizes Solomon’s talents and has him play during his human auction as those around him are sold off and families are ruthlessly broken apart. The idea that upbeat music would keep those being sold and separated seem less upsetting is the first glimpse both Solomon and audiences get of the logic existing south of the Mason-Dixon line. The image of Solomon playing as people scream for […]

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There’s still a considerable stretch of time between now and when Steve McQueen‘s 12 Years a Slave wins every award under the sun. And in that stretch, things might seem a little dull. But fear not – thanks to Vulture, we’ve got our first clip from the upcoming slavery epic, and it’s everything you could want and more. As long as “everything you could want and more” was limited to nineteenth century purse shopping and racial tension. It’s not much, but it does provide a little insight on how the music, cinematography, and period style will blend together. Note that while the editing seems fairly basic (especially given McQueen’s penchant for excruciatingly long takes), that first shot clocks in at a slightly-longer-than-average twenty seconds. And the situation seen within promises plenty of the unpleasant racial realities of the 1900’s. Solomon Northrup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) may be able to take his wife on a shopping trip, but the majority of black Americans are still snapped at like a misbehaving pet for the simple act of stepping foot into the wrong store. It’s an experience that Northrup will become far too familiar with by the end of the film. Go ahead and check out the clip after the break.

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12 Years a Slave Violin

12 Years a Slave will be making some seriously big waves this fall. The early festival reviews for the film have heaped endless praises on to director Steve McQueen, the cast, the cinematography, and anything else you could possibly heap praises upon. The film releases on October 18, and until that time we can expect more and more critics to adore the film, while those of us who’ve seen Shame (McQueen’s last film) and don’t have access to early screenings will gnash our teeth and wait it out impatiently. Now Yahoo! Movies has the first featurette from 12 Years a Slave, entitled “A Portrait of Solomon Northrup,” and one which features a lot of crucial basic information. It includes the history of real-life protagonist Solomon Northrup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free black man living in mid-19th century New York who was kidnapped and spent those titular years forced into slavery, along with some details on some of the film’s supporting characters, why McQueen pursued this particular story, and what makes his take on American slavery unique. But what this featurette primarily offers is oodles of new footage for those who’ve only seen the first trailer and are aching for more. We get a glimpse at nearly every face in the film’s near-endless cast (only Brad Pitt and Michael K. Williams are absent this time around) and get to hear the sweet strains of Benedict Cumberbatch‘s believably authentic Southern accent. Go ahead and check it out below:

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12 Years a Slave

It feels a bit like the broader movie world is about to learn who Steve McQueen is. After they have the same chuckle over his name most hardcore prestige fans had several years ago, they’ll marvel at his abilities as a dramatic filmmaker. With 12 Years a Slave, he’s partnered once again with Michael Fassbender, dragging the actor through an arduous role to come out clean on the other side. He’s also got Chiwetel Ejiofor bringing staunch prowess to the lead role of a free Northerner named Solomon Northrup who is captured and sold into slavery. In the early reviews from Telluride, critics are standing outside Ejiofor’s house with a sign that says, “To me you are perfect.” Greatly encouraging in the same vein as the early Gravity responses from Venice, this film looks poised to punch awards season in the gut and plant an accomplished yet still budding auteur into more mainstream ground. Here’s what people are saying:

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news 12 years a slave

It’s no secret that Michael Fassbender has become one of the most respected, sought-after new faces to hit Hollywood in the last ten years. The guy went from supporting face to leading man in record time, and is now looked at as being the sort of talent who will raise your movie to a whole other level if you manage to land him. If you’ve been following his career so far, then you know that a big reason for his success is the work he’s done with director Steve McQueen on his features Hunger and Shame. McQueen, a visual artist turned film director, has a unique style and a patient camera that’s well-suited to showing off an actor’s performance, and it was largely the work Fassbender did in his films that opened up eyes all over the industry to what he was capable of if given a meaty role. While Hunger was mostly the Michael Fassbender show, Shame added Carey Mulligan to the mix, and gave her a platform to remind us how talented she is as well. If McQueen has proven anything with his first two features, and unquestionably he’s proven a lot, it’s that he works well with actors. He gets what makes them special, and he gets how to shine a spotlight on that specialness. The point of all this is that his third film, Twelve Years a Slave, should be pretty damned spectacular.

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We’ve done so much drooling over Twelve Years a Slave that you should have a pretty good idea what it is by now. It’s the next film from visual artist extraordinaire, Steve McQueen, and his third in a row that sees him collaborating with the most exciting actor on the planet today, Michael Fassbender. It goes without saying that any chance we get to watch this actor/director duo work together again is reason enough to celebrate, but what’s been so exciting about watching this project develop is that, unlike Hunger and Shame, Twelve Years a Slave doesn’t seem like it’s going to be the Michael Fassbender show. No, this true story of the life of free man turned slave Solomon Northrup seems like it’s going to give McQueen the chance to spread the love around and direct a real ensemble. The cast is deep and impressive enough at this point that our own Kate Erbland has declared it to be the best of the year, so instead of getting too much into the who’s and what’s of things let’s just do a quick rundown. Joining lead actor Chiwetel Ejiofor will be the aforementioned Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Giamatti, Paul Dano, Sarah Paulson, Scoot McNairy, Ruth Negga, Garret Dillahunt, and Adepero Oduye. That’s an impressive list to say the least. And, seeing as the film has already started production, it wouldn’t seem like there’s much room left for anyone else to be added. Still, somehow McQueen has managed to […]

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2012 Movie Roland Emmerich

The Mayans, the wise race of ancients who created hot cocoa, set December 21st, 2012 as the end date of their Calendar, which the intelligent and logical amongst us know signifies the day the world will end, presumably at 12:21:12am, Mountain Time. From now until zero date, we will explore the 50 films you need to watch before the entire world perishes. We don’t have much time, so be content, be prepared, be entertained. The Film: 2012 (2009) The Plot: Disaster filmmaker extraordinaire Roland Emmerich gives audiences his vision of how the world will end in this 2009 blockbuster. As the clock ticks closer to December 21, 2012, geologists and other scientists discover various anomalies happening to our planet. Solar flares are tossing neutrinos across space, and they are impacting the Earth’s mantle. They predict global catastrophe as the crust shifts and the Earth’s plates rearrange. Eventually, massive earthquakes wipe entire cities off the globe while one family, led by John Cusack, makes an escape in a limousine of awesomeness.

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Scoot McNairy at Cannes

Scoot McNairy and Brad Pitt recently tag teamed Cannes with Killing Them Softly, which is apparently pretty good. Unsurprisingly.So it’s probably unsurprising that the pair are going to be working together again in Steve McQueen’s Twelve Years a Slave. Speaking of people who love working together, the film stars Michael Fassbender as a plantation owner who buys a free man (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor) who is kidnapped and sold into slavery. According to Variety, McNairy will be playing a “shrewd circus worker” who has his eye on selling a free man as a slave. Hopefully McNairy can sell cabbage-smelling hands in a medium without scent.

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Apocalypse Soon: Children of Men

The Mayans, the wise race of ancients who created hot cocoa, set December 21st, 2012 as the end date of their Calendar, which the intelligent and logical amongst us know signifies the day the world will end, presumably at 12:21:12am, Mountain Time. From now until zero date, we will explore the 50 films you need to watch before the entire world perishes. We don’t have much time, so be content, be prepared, be entertained. The Film: Children of Men (2006) The Plot: In the near future global civilization is on the brink of total collapse as the human race approaches extinction via a long dry spell of human infertility. There hasn’t been a human child born in almost two decades and the answer for our sudden inability to bear children has been an elusive scientific mystery in all those years. In this world of societal discourse and upheaval Theo Faron (Clive Owen) is an everyman with ties to an underground group of revolutionaries through a past relationship with the group’s leader Julian (Julianne Moore). Kidnapped off the streets by the group Theo is asked by Julian to help attain transit papers for a young woman and help see that she crosses the British border to safety. Asking no questions of what the significance of that particular girl’s safety is Theo agrees and along the way to the first stop on their journey their vehicle gets ambushed. Following that event Theo’s initially loose involvement in the situation becomes more important when he takes […]

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It looks like Brad Pitt will not just talk the talk, but also walk the walk in Steve McQueen’s next project Twelve Years a Slave. Pitt is producing the film through his production company, Plan B, and has reportedly worked on developing the project for a number of years, but now word is out that it won’t be just Pitt the producer showing up for filming, but also Pitt the actor. A small item in Screen Daily announcing the addition of River Road Entertainment as producers and financiers, along with the news that Summit International will handle sales of the film at the upcoming American Film Market, also included a cast listing for the project. That list included McQueen’s contestant star, Michael Fassbender, along with the already-announced Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Pitt himself. The Playlist went ahead and confirmed the casting with Plan B, who would only confirm that bit of news, but would give no further details. McQueen and John Ridley have adapted their script from the 1853 autobiography written by Solomon Northup, an African-American man who was born free and later abducted into slavery. Northup had an entire life in his native New York (complete with an education, a musical background, a wife, and three children) when he went to Washington in 1841 under the pretense of a job offer to play fiddle in a traveling circus. Once there, he was kidnapped and drugged. He was then sold into slavery and, for the next twelve years, was shuttled between owners and subjected to brutal […]

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Steve McQueen is a proven visual artist and up and coming film director who I’m keeping my eye on very closely. So far he’s made two very challenging, and very rewarding films. The first was called Hunger, and it was about the famous 1981 IRA hunger strikes in a Northern Ireland prison. The second is a forthcoming feature called Shame, and it’s a very frank look at the life of a man who suffers from sexual compulsion. Both films are visually beautiful, experimental in their approach to filmmaking, and starring Michael Fassbender. I would highly recommend checking them out. It’s already been reported that McQueen’s next film will be a telling of the life of Solomon Northrup called 12 Years a Slave, and that Chiwetel Ejiofor will be starring. Northrup was a free man kidnapped from Washington in 1841 and forced into slavery for twelve years until he was rescued from a Louisiana plantation in 1853. The film will be based off his biography of the same name. The new information being reported about the film is that Fassbender has signed on to the cast as well, re-teaming him with McQueen for the third time. There isn’t any word on who Fassbender will be playing, but that doesn’t really matter. Any word of Fassbender and McQueen working together is big news in my book, no matter what the project. While McQueen is one of the directors who I’m very excited to watch develop over the next few years, Fassbender is […]

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Visual artist turned visual artist who directs feature films Steve McQueen turned a lot of heads with his 2008 feature debut Hunger. It was a visual experience chock full of beautiful photography, great performances, and experimental filmmaking. His second film Shame, which stars Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan, and supposedly explores sexuality and human nature, is getting ready to debut in Toronto and Venice come their September film festivals. Before we even get a chance to take in that film, however, comes word of what McQueen plans to work on next.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr sulks his head at not being able to see all the cool stuff that’s going on at Comic-Con 2010, but he knows he’s the lucky one because he was able to see Ramona and Beezus, Suck on that! Oh, and he gets a gander at Angelina Jolie in Salt, which ain’t bad, either.

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Practical action from the man who brought us Patriot Games. The first trailer for Salt is surprisingly impressive.

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Chiwetel Ejiofor and John Cusack

Roland Emmerich’s last few adventure epics may not have gone over too well, but it’s easy to forget that the dude has made good films in the past. And with his next film, he is at least off to a good start with the casting.

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published: 11.26.2014
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published: 11.26.2014
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