Not audiences — strong ticket sales at the box office have proven that. However, despite some passionate fans, many Academy voters have privately confessed to being intimidated by the drama, mostly because reviews have hyped the violence as extreme and relentless. Searing? Yes. Punishing for the audience? No more than, say, Saving Private Ryan or any other honest war picture.
In our latest issue, Entertainment Weekly named director Steve McQueen one of the Entertainers of the Year. That’s not a title one would obviously bestow on the soft-spoken British filmmaker, but “entertainment” means more than escapism.