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The new film from director Steve McQueen (Shame, Hunger) is based on the true story of Solomon Northrup, a free black man who was kidnapped and held as a slave for over a decade. In 12 Years a Slave, Chiwetel Ejiofor plays Northrup, and we see his horrific journey and what amounts to years of imprisonment as a slave as he is tormented by captors and owners.

The impressive cast also includes Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Paul Giamatti, Paul Dano, Sarah Paulson, Alfre Woodard, Dwight Henry, Quvenzhane Wallis, Lupita Nyongo, Scoot McNairy, Michael Kenneth Williams and Garret Dillahunt. The story is wrenching — if Django Unchained played fast and loose with history, this is the film that attempts to tell the story of a slave’s emancipation from more true-to-life details. The trailer has an air of Oscar bait about it, but the emotions it calls up are undeniable. And knowing the way McQueen’s films work, the trailer could be a much more audience-friendly experience than the final film will be. Read More »

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Twelve Years a Slave (2)

The name Solomon Northup may not ring a bell for most people, but Steve McQueen and his star-studded cast could help change that this winter with Twelve Years a Slave.

Chiwetel Ejiofor stars as Northup, a free man who was tricked and sold into slavery as an adult. He spent a dozen years working on plantations before eventually finding his way to freedom once more. Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Fassbender, Sarah Paulson, Quvenzhané Wallis, Dwight HenryPaul Giamatti, Michael K. Williams, Alfre Woodard, and newcomer Lupita Nyong’o are also among the cast. See the first official stills from the movie after the jump.

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Amanda Seyfried

In a post-apocalyptic world, one girl believes she’s the last human alive. Then she sees some smoke on the horizon, and a man appears. She and the man fall in love, assuming they’re all that’s left. Then another man emerges. That’s the plot of Robert C. O’Brien‘s ’70s sci-fi novel, Z For Zachariah, which is about to get the big screen treatment.

Directed by Craig Zobel (of the amazing Compliance), produced by Tobey Maguire and adapted by Nissar Modi, Amanda Seyfried will play the young girl, Chiwetel Ejiofor the man she falls in love with and Chris Pine the mysterious stranger. Filming should occur later this Summer. Read More »

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This week Fox Searchlight has picked up two films that could be huge winter releases for the label. Yesterday we caught word of the finalization of a deal for Searchlight to distribute Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel, with a release possibly happening in late 2013.

Now the company has announced plans to distribute Steve McQueen‘s Shame follow-up Twelve Years a Slave. The film is set for a December 27 release.

McQueen’s latest is drawn from the 1853 autobiography of Solomon Northup, who detailed his kidnapping and enslavement and the fate he suffered while being sold from one owner to another. The picture features Chiwetel Ejiofor as Northup, with performances from  Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Giamatti, Paul Dano, Alfre Woodard, Garret Dillahunt, Lupita Nyong’o, Adepero Oduye, Scott McNairy, Sarah PaulsonMichael K. Williams, Chris Chalk, Dwight Henry, Quvenzhane Wallis and Brad Pitt. The first image from the film is here.

If you guessed the moment David Mamet cast Al Pacino as the lead of HBO Films’ Phil Spector that the movie would essentially be Pacino at his nuttiest under an increasingly bizarre series of wigs, well, you were right on the mark. The first trailer shows just that, along with his Helen Mirren as his competent but uneasy defense attorney Linda Kenney Baden. Watch it after the jump.

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Director Steve McQueen‘s last two films, Hunger and Shame, were relatively intimate affairs with smallish casts anchored by Michael Fassbender. In contrast, his upcoming Twelve Years a Slave, boasts a far more expansive cast — and what a cast it is. In addition to established names like Fassbender, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Brad Pitt, the lineup also includes up-and-comers like Pariah actress Adepero Oduye and Beasts of the Southern Wild star Dwight Henry. Now, with shooting already underway, Henry’s Beasts co-star Quvenzhané Wallis has apparently been added to the roster as well.

The first photo from the set shows Ejiofor and Wallis alongside an adult actress and a child actor. It looks like the foursome comprise the Northrup family, though we don’t have enough info at this point to say for sure. Check out the image and read more about the film after the jump.

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I’m starting to suspect Steve McQueen watches the same TV we do. The British director of Hunger and Shame has already cast Sherlock‘s Benedict Cumberbatch, Saturday Night Live‘s Taran Killam, and Raising Hope‘s Garret Dillahunt in his upcoming Twelve Years a Slave, and he’s now added another small-screen favorite. Michael K. Williams, a.k.a. Omar Little on The Wire, has just boarded the cast, which also includes Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, and Brad Pitt. More details after the jump.

UPDATE: A few hours after this post went up, it was announced that Beasts of the Southern Wild star Dwight Henry had also joined Twelve Years a Slave.

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Here’s an update to the developing news on Steve McQueen‘s third film, Twelve Years a Slave, that is pretty minor in terms of word count, but potentially huge for the movie. We know that Chiwetel Ejiofor will play Solomon Northrup, a free black man kidnapped in Washington in 1841 and made to serve as a slave for over a decade. Michael Fassbender, who featured in McQueen’s last two films, Hunger and Shame, will also play a role.

Brad Pitt‘s company Plan B is producing the film, and now the actor will take a role in the movie, too. Read More »

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