’12 Years a Slave’ takes Best Picture at the 86th Academy Awards


12 Years a Slave prevailed over Gravity and American Hustle in what was one of the most hotly contested Oscars in years, walking away with the coveted Best Picture crown in Los Angeles yesterday.

The film enjoyed two other victories, winning Best Supporting Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay.

First-time film star Lupita Nyong’o collected the Best Supporting Actress trophy and delivered the emotional high-point of an otherwise muted ceremony.

John Ridley’s acceptance speech for Best Adapted Screenplay was, however, marred by the conspicuous non-mention of the film’s director, Steve McQueen.

McQueen was seen giving Ridley po-faced applause, and later, while collecting Best Picture, notably neglected to mention Ridley’s name in turn.

Their rumoured rivalry – involving a battle over screenplay credit – could not contain McQueen as he became the first black man to win Best Picture, literally jumping for joy as the show came to a close.

Prior to the climactic announcement of Best Picture, Gravity had dominated the three-and-a-half-hour ceremony.

Alfonso Cuarón has the honour of being the first Latin filmmaker to collect Best Director thanks to his helming of the blockbuster space epic.

Gravity also won Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing, Best Original Score, and, of course, Best Visual Effects.

American Hustle, which went into the night with 10 nominations, was totally shut out, making it one of the biggest losers in Oscar history.

It couldn’t even claim an accolade in the one category it was considered a likely victor: Best Original Screenplay. Instead, Spike Jonze – admittedly, the next-likeliest-victor – was awarded for Her.

Dallas Buyers Club was one of the night’s biggest success stories, picking up Best Actor for Matthew McConaughey, Best Supporting Actor for Jared Leto, and Best Makeup and Hairstyling.

Cate Blanchett received, as expected, her coronation in the Best Actress category for her work in Blue Jasmine, completing the awards season narrative that similarly saw McConaughey and Leto unanimously rewarded by guild after guild.

Catherine Martin will return home as Australia’s most successful Oscar winner, with a tally of four Academy Awards following her dual wins for The Great Gatsby (in Best Production Design and Best Costume Design).

Frozen also nabbed two Oscars, for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song (with that tune, ‘Let it Go’, given a live rendition by Idina Menzel).

Italy’s The Great Beauty was named Best Foreign Language Film, the first time that nation has scored the prize since Life is Beautiful in 1998. 20 Feet from Stardom was handed Best Documentary, besting category favourite The Act of Killing.

Ellen DeGeneres hosted the ceremony, bringing in 43 million viewers to make it the most watched telecast in 10 years (but not raves for her low-key, pizza-ordering, selfie-taking hosting shtick).

The best moments, instead, came from the candid stuff-ups (such as John Travolta trying – and failing – to pronounce Idina Menzel) and unexpectedly moving tributes (such as Bill Murray announcing the late Harold Ramis as a nominee for Best Cinematography).

So comes to an end another Oscar season. Don’t panic, prognosticators: 2015’s Oscar race begins today.

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