Writer John Ridley won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for 12 Years a Slave. It’s hard to think of any other nominee that could have taken the award besides the gripping adaptation of Solomon Northrop’s memoir. Ridley, of Undercover Brother fame, adapted Northrup’s real-life story of imprisonment slavery into a vivid study of battered humanity that shattered audiences and critics alike. Thanks to Ridley’s assured script, 12 Years a Slave was given a raw emotive power that went hand in hand with Steve McQueen’s direction.
The original 19th century memoir, which saw little play outside of history classrooms, is now among the exclusive community of Hollywood’s awarded screenplays. In his speech, Ridley naturally thanked Solomon Northrup, whose searing account inspired the film. He also thanked the producers of the film.