• Thu, Nov 28 - 11:00 am ET

Mandela Is The Movie That 12 Years A Slave Wanted To Be

Idris Elba as Nelson Mandela in Long Walk To Freedom November 2013Let me preface this by saying — this is already an absurd year for Oscar movies. Every time I think I’ve seen the best movie of the season, another one comes along that knocks it out of the park, and the list of films I think will be nominated for Best Picture just keeps getting longer and longer.

It’s pretty much a foregone conclusion in Hollywood right now that 12 Years A Slave will be on that list, and I think it probably should be, but I don’t mind admitting that I wasn’t as in love with it as other people seem to be. It’s an incredible story of resilience and unimaginable cruelty, but I don’t know that it was necessarily transferred very well to the big screen. No one is denying that there were some incredible performances in it — most notably by Chiwetel EjioforLupita Nyong’o, and Michael Fassbender – but all in all I wasn’t as struck by it as I think I could and should have been.

I felt it was hampered by an overly flowery script and stuffed with too many A-List stars, two things that distracted from the story and took away from its potential power. I wanted to feel devastated after I watched that movie, because the events within it were  devastating. Beyond devastating, in fact. Unimaginable. But instead I left the theater feeling like I’d missed something. And frankly, feeling pretty guilty about it.

But now, weeks later, I finally saw the movie that I think 12 Years A Slave wanted to be, and it’s Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom, which comes out tomorrow. 

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