12 years a slave

The makers of “12 Years a Slave” are in town this week, in advance of its Oct. 18 bow. And the Internet is buzzing with tales of Sunday’s partially-empty screening at the Academy and the hand-wringing of industry folk (anonymous, of course) who fret that voters might be turned off by its intensity.

A piece of friendly advice to those who might be hesitating, from the biggest wuss West of the Mississippi: Snap out of it!

There are four minutes, in the last half-hour, during which it’s worth hiding your eyes. But that scene is no worse than stuff on “Walking Dead,” “Criminal Minds,” “American Horror Story” or a lot of other shows on TV.

So why the bad rap for the Steve McQueen-directed film?

First theory:  All those slaves in “Gone With the Wind” seemed so happy, “12 Years” is considered tough because it’s an eye-opener.

Second theory: Awards execs like to badmouth rivals’ films and this one had a target on its back the minute it was declared an Oscar front-runner. (Look out, “Gravity,” your turn is next!)

Some films are tough to watch: “The Best Years of Our Lives,” “The Diary of Anne Frank,” “Schindler’s List” and “Saving Private Ryan.” And yet awards voters seemed able to cope with them. So, c’mon, pilgrims, get with the program.

The film’s awards advantages: The Searchlight film is a likely contender for pic, director, script, actor, supporting actress, supporting actor, and all below the line work.

Awards challenges: Getting folks to see it. Whether you’re a dating couple at the multiplex or a kudos voter, the title “12 Years a Slave” does not scream out “fun evening!” So Searchlight needs to underline the positive scenes and emotions of the film.

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