In "12 Years A Slave" there is a scene between Platt/Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Patsy (Lupita Nyong'o that is startling, stark and will have your emotions all over the place. It is one of the very few scenes that delivers all the hype that the movie has promised. All in all I found the movie very disappointing and realize that I am a minority having this opinion.
There were many scenes that director Steve McQueen holds 3-4 beats, if not 1-2 minutes, such as the 'song' by Tibeats (Paul Dano), too long and some photograph like frames, mostly of nature scenes, that combine to make the movie seem excessive diluting those times it should have moved quicker. Moving back and forth in time, instead of telling the story in a straight line, doesn't add anything and with repeating scenes, once again, elongates the story that would have been stronger if shorter.
The acting is certainly first rate though Michael Fassbender should be getting a lot more attention for his role as plantation/slave owner Edwin Epps, frightening in his drunken evilness. As Platt/Solomon, the freeman, who is kidnapped and sent to the south as a slave, Ejiofer carries the burden of the film as a victim who refuses to be one though at times he seems to be too passive as an actor, not a slave, for how he overcomes all that is thrown at him.
The rest of the cast, mostly cameos by Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Giamatti, Sarah Paulson and Alfre Woodard are effective though when Brad Pitt appears it takes you out of the movie because it is Brad Pitt.
There is nudity, none gratuitous, violence and cruelty, though except for the scene mentioned in the first paragraph and an attempted lynching scene of Northup, very little of it hit me emotionally
Based on a true story about, and book written by, Northup and the publicity he received it is questionable that how and/or where he died is unknown.
Comes award time the movie and actors will be up for many awards but the bottom line for me is that I won't recommend it.