Most memorably and extensively, the film documents Solomon's suffering at the hands of Edwin Epps, a drunken brute played with extraordinary ferocity by Michael Fassbender. Epps is a vile but utterly credible beast: a man riddled with self-hate whose explosive lust for the enslaved Patsey.
12 Years a Slave is a true horror story which rages at the obvious injustice of slavery and the horrendous hardships suffered by slaves themselves but, perhaps most remarkably, through Epps and those like him, McQueen draws out the complex reactions of white plantation owners and workers. It shows the detrimental impact of slavery on all those it touches, not just the people it subjugates. It illustrates how society at large is poisoned, how those who keep slaves are rendered crueller and lesser, tortured by both their own capacity for sadism and their inescapable humanity, and how few had the courage to challenge the miserable status quo.
As Epps, Fassbender does the near-impossible by making a man of such brutality not sympathetic exactly but certainly painfully human, laying bare his internal torture. He's an actor who seems to give himself over entirely to his roles and while Ejiofor is remarkable, holding us close on his horrifying journey, what Fassbender does with his character is nothing short of miraculous. - The Arts DeskWhat some people are saying on the Internet is that another actor has the Supporting Actor awards all nabbed up because he's won the most critics awards. But I have been reminding people that the critics awards don't always align with the televised industry awards. They have also been saying that 12 Years a Slave may only get one acting award and it will most likely go to Lupita, and saving the other awards to spread the love to other films. I don't believe that either, I truly feel that all three actors have an excellent chance of winning, and I know that the TYAS group WILL win the SAG.
This Sunday's broadcast of the Golden Globes will be the first event where we'll see how beloved the other actor's role is, as I have yet to read any reviews that go out on a branch and reference to that other performance as to how amazing, difficult, impressive, and courageous it was in comparison to Michael Fassbender's portrayal of Edwin Epps has been described in many reviews. As the season is well under way, and Michael has succeeded thus far in being nominated for the big three before the Oscar nominations on January 16th, I really do believe he has a solid chance of winning at least ONE of these awards, if not, the ONE. I now also sense that he will be making himself available to help promote the film, and himself in a way that is comfortable for him, and more controlled than the last time.
ETA: No less than 5 minutes after posting this article, I found another review that highlights Michael Fassbender -
12 Years A Slave
Based on an incredible true story of one man's fight for survival and freedom. In the pre-Civil War United States, Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery. Facing cruelty (personified by a malevolent slave owner, portrayed by Michael Fassbender), as well as unexpected kindnesses, Solomon struggles not only to stay alive, but to retain his dignity. In the twelfth year of his unforgettable odyssey, Solomon's chance meeting with a Canadian abolitionist (Brad Pitt) will forever alter his life.
- Will no doubt be a major contender come the Oscars. This is a heart-breaking film that is on par with Schindler's List as in its importance to cinema.
- The film never shies away with showing how ugly violent and dehumanising slavery was in the 1800's. This is not a pleasant watch but a must-see to see how the subject matter is handled with such realism and intensity.
- Steve McQueen (the director) is one of the new forces in the film industry. Each of his film releases has been superb to date and 12 Years A Slave should push him into the higher echelons of today's film-makers.
- The acting all round is masterful, but special mention has to go to Michael Fassbender who owns every scene he's in. He is a force of nature and should earn that Oscar nomination he was robbed off when Shame came out a couple of years ago. - TV3