Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Best Leading Actor 2013: Chiwetel Ejiofor - Twelve Years a Slave

I'm glad Twelve Years a Slave won best picture. But I'm not happy why it won. I think that it really was the best film among the nominees. But I don't think the Academy thought the same thing. The fact that Gravity won almost every technical award possible proves it. I'm happy Twelve Years a Slave won, but I'd be happier, if for example Gravity would have won, if I knew that the Academy voted for it, because they liked it.
Chiwetel Ejiofor plays Solomon Northup, who used to be a free man, a violin player, but after some unpleasant circumstances he was forced to become a slave. What happened to this character is very tragic. But Ejiofor never overdoes the situation. His performance stays subtle and realistic even in the most strain moments. He actually plays only with his eyes most of the time. You can see such range of emotions from a simple look in hi eyes. I actually never thought of Ejiofor that he would be capable of such performance.
At the beginning of the film, we see Solomon with his family. He makes his living with playing the violin and he lives quite an ordinary life. Ejiofor is great in showing how he cares about his family, but he never thinks about some changes in his life and it would not even come to his mind that one day he'll be a slave.
When he wakes up in the dark room in chains, he doesn't understand what's happened. He keeps telling to the guards that he's a free man. Ejiofor is great in showing this confusion and then his stubbornness, till the moment he's being tortured. In these scenes Solomon's behaviour changes very quikly. Firstly, he's an ordinary and mediocre man, then he's happy because he seemed to get a good job. Then he's confused, yet very self-aware and stiff. And after that he must accept the fact, that he can't do nothing about it. These feelings that there injustice committed on him, but he cannot do anything about it are wonderful.
Solomon was a bit naive character at the beginning of the film, but later on he transforms into a very rational character. This transformation is perfect and it never seems forced. It just happens.
Playing this character means playing a lots of scenes with grief. Ejiofor doesn't have a problem with that, because he's always very believable and he is able to make us feel so sorry for him. One of those is the scene, where everybody is singing "Roll Jordan Roll". It might one of the best moments of this performance and also a proof of how wonderful this performance is.The fact that the film is so powerful and that many people couldn't handle it (and left the cinema, or said that they never want to see the film again) is also Ejiofor's credit. It is a great and very complex performance.
At the beginning I wrote that he never is over the top. Maybe it wasn't so much truth. Because there in one and very short moment that actually was a bit overacted. It is his Oscar clip. The moment that is also in the trailer and it's the moment when he says that he won't fall into despair. It actually is believable and very well handled, but I thought that it was a bit "too much" in comparison with the rest of his performance. But that just a very short, little and forgivable detail...
The chances of winning an Oscar: He might have been the second. He is the leading character of the best picture winner and he makes that film. He must have had quite a good chance...

1 comment:

  1. I agree with you that the Academy seemed to give it the win for the wrong reasons.

    But besides that yes Ejiofor gives a great performance even with that bit of unfitting flamboyance that you mentioned.