12 Years A Slave – it’s the film everyone is calling the frontrunner for Best Picture. And the film that seems to be scaring off a few contenders. 12 Years screened at the New York Film Festival last night. Director Steve McQueen was there (and Madonna had to get in a photo with him) with star Chiwetel Ejiofor who has to be one of the five Best Actor nominees at this point, I mean he has to.

This is Chiwetel time.

You know what I love about Chiwetel and his approach to playing the real life Solomon Northrup, a free man abducted into slavery? Let him tell you, as he said on The View:

“Steve McQueen called me and spoke to me about it and he sent me the script and I had that moment of pause. It's such an extraordinary story, I just felt the responsibility of it...I had never seen a story like this, I had never seen a film sort of inside this experience this way, so it wasn't something I could just jump into straight away. I had to take that moment of kind of saying, 'I don't know Steve, am I the guy?'"

I don’t know Steve, am I the guy?

It’s certainly not the Justin Timberlake attitude about acting.

Chiwetel biggest competition this year might come from a major Hollywood name: Robert Redford. Tom Hanks, yes, but he has two Oscars, and Redford’s never won an Oscar for acting. They’re saying his performance in All Is Lost is one of the best. Also there’s Bruce Dern in Nebraska. Also a veteran, also for sentimental value. And then there’s Matthew McConaughey who will have to campaign very, very, very hard, and probably keep his shirt on. Or not. Maybe that’s how he’ll distinguish himself from others: shirtlessness.

Here’s Chiwetel in a new clip from 12 Years A Slave.