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Both are disturbing, uncomfortable, brilliantly acted, and wonderfully shot films, and this is an extremely tough decision, but Twelve Years a Slave is the winner.
You know you're a good director when 12 Years a Slave is your "worst" film. Shame is the best of McQueen's 3 feature length films, but all of them are fantastic.
Two great one's right here from Steve McQueen. Shame is his best in my opinion. A truly powerful film with a brilliant performance from Michael Fassbender.
12 years is better film simply for the content, let alone the acting. Shame has some serious pacing issues.
12 Years a Slave is a powerhouse of a film and Shame is a more subtle film but just as effective in delivering its emotional arc. Slave is a slight favorite here.