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‘12 Years a Slave’ takes top prize at Oscars

BT Toronto | posted Monday, Mar 3rd, 2014

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The slavery drama 12 Years a Slave won the best picture Oscar on Sunday, becoming the first film from a black director to win the film industry’s top honor in the 86 years of the Academy Awards.

The film from British director Steve McQueen is based on the memoirs of a free black man, Solomon Northup, who is tricked and sold into bondage in Louisiana in an unflinching account of pre-Civil War slavery in America.

Its biggest competitor, space thriller Gravity took the Oscar for best director, Mexican Alfonso Cuaron, and racked up five other awards for technical achievements like visual effects and cinematography, a reward for its groundbreaking work on conveying space and weightlessness.

Meanwhile, Matthew McConaughey was named best actor for Dallas Buyers Club; Cate Blanchett, best actress for Blue Jasmine; Jared Leto, best supporting actor for Dallas Buyers Club; and Lupita Nyong’o, best supporting actress for 12 Years a Slave.

Click here for a full list of the winners.

Nyong’o’s win over Jennifer Lawrence for her role as a loopy housewife in American Hustle injected some drama halfway through the 86th Academy Awards, after early Oscars went to heavy favorites.

Comedian and talk show star Ellen DeGeneres returned as Oscar host on Sunday in an appearance many saw as calculated to project a lighter, more affable tone for Hollywood’s biggest night after the provocative performance of her immediate predecessor, Seth MacFarlane.

She mixed with the star-studded crowd, taking selfies with the likes of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, and showed in her opening monologue she was not above poking fun at some of the film industry’s biggest names.

In one of the strongest years for film in recent memory, the 6,000-plus voters of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences were expected to scatter golden Oscar statuettes widely among the many acclaimed movies in contention.

Sunday was the culmination of an unusually long awards season, extended by the Winter Olympics, and for many of the nominees it spelled the end to months of campaigning and years of work on a film.

Bedecked in gowns, tuxedos and even shorts, the world’s top actors and actresses strode down the red carpet right after the sun broke through four days of heavy rain that threatened to put a damper on Hollywood’s biggest night.

With files from Reuters and CityNews.ca

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