12 Years A Slave wins Best Picture at Oscars 2014 dominated by British space epic Gravity
Brit Steve McQueen becomes first black director to win Best Picture as Gravity bags seven Oscars in all
Tim Walker is The Independent’s Los Angeles correspondent, covering entertainment and other concerns from the West Coast of the US. He was previously a features writer and the editor of the paper’s diary column. His first novel, Completion, is being published in January 2014.
Monday 03 March 2014
Oscar host Ellen DeGeneres began last night’s ceremony by suggesting that it would conclude in one of two ways: the first possibility, she said, was “That 12 Years A Slave wins the Best Picture Oscar. And, possibility two, you’re all racists”.
Thankfully, Hollywood ended the evening with its reputation intact, as British director Steve McQueen’s harrowing historical drama took the top prize. The film, based on Solomon Northup’s 1853 memoir of his time as a slave in the pre-Civil War American South, triumphed in what was seen as a tight three-way tussle with Gravity and American Hustle.
McQueen, who also won the Turner Prize in 1999, thus becomes the first black director ever to win Best Picture. However, he was beaten to the award for Best Director by Gravity’s Alfonso Cuaron; the 52-year-old Mexican is the first Latin American ever to win the latter prize.
Cuaron’s space thriller swept the technical categories, winning a whopping seven Oscars in all, including Best Score, Editing, Cinematography, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing and Visual Effects. Speaking backstage after the ceremony, Cuaron paid tribute to the film’s British technical team, saying, “The amazing know-how, quality and sophistication of the British film industry made this happen.”
12 Years A Slave took two more Oscars: Best Adapted Screenplay for its writer John Ridley and, in perhaps the most popular win of the evening, Lupita Nyongo, who was named Best Supporting Actress. The 31-year-old Kenyan’s searing performance as Patsey, Solomon’s fellow slave, was her first ever film role.
The ceremony was relatively low-key compared to previous Academy Awards, with results that went largely according to the form book. The shortest odds had been on Cate Blanchett, who did indeed win Best Actress for the title role of Woody Allen’s most recent movie, Blue Jasmine.
READ MORE: The Oscars selfie that broke Twitter
Liza Minnelli in 'obscene' red carpet wardrobe malfunction
Benedict Cumberbatch photobombs U2
Best supporting actress Lupita Nyong'o hailed fashion queen
Meanwhile, Matthew McConaughey’s remarkable recent career trajectory peaked with his being named Best Actor. The 44-year-old lost 40 pounds to play AIDS patient Ron Woodroof in Dallas Buyers Club. His co-star, Jared Leto, was named Best Supporting Actor for his performance as transgender AIDS sufferer Rayon. In his acceptance speech, Leto name-checked the “ dreamers” presently protesting in Ukraine and Venezuela; the 42-year-old later told reporters that his rock band, 30 Seconds to Mars, had been due to a play concert in Ukraine in the coming weeks.
The night’s biggest loser was American Hustle; David O Russell’s fictionalisation of the 1970s ABSCAM scandal was nominated in 10 categories, but left empty-handed. So too did its fellow Best picture nominees Nebraska, The Wolf of Wall Street, Captain Phillips and Philomena.
The biggest shock of the evening came when the critically lauded The Act of Killing was beaten in the Best Documentary category by its music-themed rival, 20 Feet From Stardom. That award marked the only win of the evening for producer and Oscar veteran Harvey Weinstein, who also produced Philomena.
DeGeneres was considered a safe choice for host following Seth MacFarlane’s controversial 2013 turn. At one point she made a bid to create the most re-tweeted photo in history, by taking a selfie of herself, Leto, Nyongo, Meryl Streep, Bradley Cooper, Julia Roberts, Jennifer Lawrence, Brad Pitt, Channing Tatum and Kevin Spacey. The photo surpassed the previous record-holder – an image of Barack and Michelle Obama – in around an hour.
musicReview: Culture Club performs live for first time in 12 years
Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 This 'woman calls police to order pizza' story isn't going where you're expecting
- 2 Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
- 3 Jimmy Carr's controversial Oscar Pistorius joke goes a bit too far at the Q Awards
- 4 Ottawa shootings: Bruce MacKinnon's cartoon is the perfect tribute to soldier Nathan Cirillo
- 5 Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
This is what a film sex scene actually looks like on set (mostly awkward)
Taylor Swift, 1989 - album review: Pop star shows 'promising signs of maturity'
American Horror Story season 4, Fox - review: Silly, sensational but still sensitive
Breaking Bad season 6 hoax: Vince Gilligan has not confirmed a new series
Miranda Hart confirms eponymous sitcom has come to an end as she bows out on a 'high'
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
London bus driver 'kicks gay couple off for kissing'