Film review: Could heist thriller Widows win best picture?

The director of 12 Years a Slave is back with a popcorn film that rewrites Hollywood conventions, says critic Caryn James.

12 Years a Slave won the best picture Oscar in 2014. It was a serious, deeply moving look at slavery via the true story of an African-American man from New York who was forced into bondage against his will. The film's British director, Steve McQueen, was the mastermind behind Hunger and Shame. Formerly more at home at Tate Modern than the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), McQueen moved into feature films after first being a prominent experimental film-maker.

But it’s at TIFF where he’s premiered his first film since 12 Years a Slave – and it’s unlike anything he’s done before – apart from its high quality. Rave reviews suggest it could be a top Oscar contender – but its plot could have mass appeal too.

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