4 March 2014 1:35 AM, PST | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

I am delighted Steve McQueen's serious and beautifully filmed movie was recognised at the Oscars but I found it oddly bloodless in spirit

12 Years a Slave is a remarkable film and I share the widespread delight that it won recognition at the Oscars in Hollywood, especially when there was always a risk that an enjoyable bit of immoral trash like The Wolf of Wall Street might have done some business at its high-minded expense.

But best film of the year? I hope not. It's a political film with a political message for our times – slavery isn't over when there are an estimated 21 million slaves today, so Steve McQueen reminded his audience on Sunday night. But Casablanca was a very political film too, plenty are, but dialogue, plot, character made them better movies.

By the time we first glimpse 33-year-old carpenter, Solomon Northup, author of a moving 1853 memoir and hero »

- Michael White

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