12 Years a Slave wins best film, Gravity dominates field

Cate Blanchett, Matthew McConaughey take acting Academy Awards; No joy for U2 in best song

The slavery drama "12 Years a Slave" won the Academy Award for best picture on Sunday (March 2), making history as the first movie from a black director to win the film industry's highest honor in 86 years of the Oscars.


It was a strange sort of evening at the Academy Awards. We went into the show knowing that, for the first time in aeons, best picture was still up for grabs. In the event, Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave, a searing tale of abduction and resilience, took that award, but its closest rival, the space adventure Gravity, ran away with the prize for most Oscars.

Alfonso Cuarón’s film took seven Oscars, including the prize for best director. 12 Years a Slave and Dallas Buyers Club were a distant second with three Oscars each. The much-fancied American Hustle, which topped the nomination charts jointly with Gravity, ended up going home with nothing.

In the event, for all the uncharacteristic uncertainty, the bookies’ favourites won in all the major races. Matthew McConaughey, whose progression from rom-com stalwart to serious actor inspired the term “McConnaissance”, triumphed in the best actor category for his performance as a stubborn Aids patient in Dallas Buyers Club. His characteristically charming speech rambled its way into a sort of self-help address.

Cate Blanchett, winner of best actress for Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine, had been favourite since the film opened six months ago. Speculation that, following the scandal surrounding Mr Allen’s private life, she might not mention the director in her speech proved to be hollow. When she thanked Allen, a smattering of applause was audible.

If a star was born this awards season it was Lupito Nyong’o. The Kenyan actor, honoured for best supporting actress in 12 Years a Slave, was greeted with a rapturous ovation as she made her way forward to deliver a very moving speech. Jared Leto, winner in the equivalent male race for his turn as a transsexual in Dallas Buyers Club, thanked his mom and referenced political troubles in Ukraine and Venezuela.

After last year’s uncomfortable turn by Seth Macfarlane, Ellen DeGeneres delivered an efficient, if occasionally baffling performance as host. A lengthy sequence in which she ordered pizza for the first few rows started nowhere and didn’t end up anywhere interesting. Nonetheless, she did pull of a coup by taking a multiple selfie – also including the likes of Brad Pitt and Jennifer Lawrence that – that became the most retweeted Tweet ever.

There was no joy for the Irish. U2 performed their song Ordinary Love from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, but that tune always seemed likely to lose out to Let it Go from Frozen in the best original song race. So it transpired. Michael Fassbender must have known that he was trailing Leto on the way into the Dolby Theatre. Stephen Frears’s Philomena went away with nothing, but Irishwoman Philomena Lee, whose story inspired the film, was on hand to soak up the pomp and glamour.

The inevitably interminable 2015 award season begins tomorrow.

Full list of winners

Best Picture: 12 Years a Slave

Direction: Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity

Oscars tweet

Matthew McConaughey acceptance speech

Actor: Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club

Actress: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine

Supporting Actor: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

Supporting Actress: Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave

Adapted Screenplay: 12 Years a Slave, John Ridley

Original Screenplay: Her, Spike Jonze

Cinematography: Gravity, Emmanuel Lubezki

Production Design: The Great Gatsby, Catherine Martin and Beverley Dunn Film

Editing: Gravity, Alfonso Cuarón and Mark Sanger

Visual Effects: Gravity, Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, Dave Shirk and Neil Corbould

Costume Design: The Great Gatsby, Catherine Martin

Makeup: Dallas Buyers Club, Adruitha Lee and Robin Mathews

Sound Editing: Gravity, Glenn Freemantle

Sound Mixing: Gravity, Skip Lievsay, Niv Adiri, Christopher Benstead and Chris Munro

Score: Gravity, Steven Price

Song: Let It Go from Frozen, Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez

Foreign Language Film: The Great Beauty (Italy)

Animated Feature: Frozen

Documentary Feature: 20 Feet From Stardom

Animated Short: Mr. Hublot

Documentary Short: The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life

Live Action Short: Helium

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