Solomon Northup was a regular New York resident who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in 1841. He was rescued 12 years later. 172 years on, and Chiwetel Ejiofor is an early Oscar contender for his turn as Northup in Steve McQueen’s 12 Days a Slave, which has a new trailer.

Chiwetel Ejiofor 12 Years a SlaveChiwetel Ejiofor looks excellent as Solomon Northup in 12 Years a Slave

British actor Ejiofor is joined by an impressive cast, featuring Michael Fassbender, Paul Giamatti, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Michael K. Williams, Quvenzhane Wallis, Alfre Woodard, Scoot McNairy, Taran Killam and Brad Pitt, while John Ridley adapted the script from Northup’s biography.

Check out the 12 Years a Slave trailer here

Like Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, which will be watched for years to come in school history lessons for its political retelling of a monumental moment in American history, McQueens is set to do the same. Films brave enough to tackle the sensitive issue of slavery – unless you’re Quentin Tarantino and you're making a comedy – are tough to balance, given that the primary audience is a Western one, but the story is that of an oppressed race.

Michael FassbenderFassbender is unflinching in 12 Days

But films of this nature are imperative to film given the medium’s innate ability to entertain and impart knowledge. And director McQueen certainly has the qualifications to helm such a picture with his work up to know being almost unanimously praised by the critics. He teams up with Fassbender – who plays an evil plantation owner – once again, having worked with him in both Hunger and Shame.

Brad PittBrad Pitt represents a huge name for a supporing cast member

The story itself is already vital to historians. A huge seller in the period leading up to the Civil War, the autobiography - which shares the same name as the film - helped piece together the history of slavery, giving scholars and academics an unprecedented insight into the darkest points in the history of America.

Paul DanoPaul Dano is John Tibeats

Films of this ilk tend to storm the Academy Awards come winter, so we’d suggest 11/1 odds for best film and 10/1 for Ekiofor as best actor are looking good. Although, with Idris Elba portraying Mandela in Long Walk to Freedom combined with the great man’s current state of health, we may see the Academy lean towards him. Either way, it’s shaping up to be a fantastic year for movie lovers.

Paul Giamatti
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Alfre Woodard
Alfre Woodard plays Mistress Harriet Shaw

Benedict Cumberbatch
Benedict Cumberbatch is William Ford