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’12 Years A Slave’ Takes Top Prize At Oscars

The period drama 12 Years a Slave won the Oscar for best picture, Cate Blanchett and Matthew McConaughey took home the top acting awards, and Gravity led the field with seven trophies at the 86th annual Academy Awards.

'12 Years a Slave' takes top prize at Oscars

A jubilant Brad Pitt, a producer on 12 Years, embraced director Steve McQueen when the movie’s contingent hit the stage to accept the night’s top prize. Based on the life of Solomon Northup, a free black man sold into slavery, the film took home three Oscars total.

“Everyone deserves not just to survive but to live. This is the most important legacy of Solomon,” McQueen said. “I dedicate this award to all the people who have endured slavery and the 21 million people who still suffer slavery today.”

John Ridley won for adapted screenplay, and Hollywood newcomer Lupita Nyong’o capped a Cinderella awards season with a supporting actress win for her portrayal of an abused plantation worker.

“It doesn’t escape me for one moment that so much joy in my life is thanks to so much pain in someone else’s,” a teary Nyong’o said of her role as Patsey — in her first film, straight out of Yale’s drama school. “This has been the joy of my life. I’m certain that the dead standing about you are watching and are grateful, and so am I.

“When I look down at this golden statue, may it remind me and every little child that no matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid.”

McConaughey, Blanchett and Jared Leto also added to their impressive Golden Globe and SAG Awards wins in January.

“Sit down, you’re too old to be standing!” said Blanchett when taking the stage to accept her best actress award for Blue Jasmine. “As random and subjective as this world is, this means a lot in a year full of extraordinary performances by women.”

Female-centered films aren’t “niche” things, she added. Audiences want to see them and, yes, they make money. The world is round, people!”

McConaughey, honored for his role as an HIV-positive cowboy turned black-market businessman in Dallas Buyers Club, made awards season a lot more interesting this year with a variety of memorable acceptance speeches, and he didn’t disappoint.

He said there are three things he needs every day: someone to look up to, in his case God; something to look forward to, like his late father “who’s up (in heaven) with a big pot of gumbo, a lemon meringue pie (and) probably in his underwear with a cold can of Miller Lite and he’s dancing right now”; and something to chase.

“My hero, that’s who I chase,” McConaughey said. “When I was 15 years old, I had a very important person come to me in my life. I thought about it, it’s me in10 years. So I turned 25 — my hero is me at 35. Every day, every week, my hero is always 10 years away.

“I’m never gonna be my hero. It keeps me with somebody to keep on chasing. Whatever it is we look forward to and to whoever it os we’re chasing, to that I say, “Amen,” to that I say, Alright, alright, alright,’ and to that I say, ‘Just keep living.’ ”

After being away from Hollywood for several years, Jared Leto was named best supporting actor for his portrayal of a transgender AIDS patient in Dallas Buyers Club, following up significant wins at the Golden Globes and SAG Awards.

The actor thanked his mother, a teenage high school dropout and single mom from Louisiana who taught her children “to be creative, work hard and be special.” Leto also dedicated his Oscar “to those who have ever felt injustice for who you are or who you love.”

Dallas Buyers Club also won the Oscar for best makeup and hairstyling — makeup artist Robin Mathews thanked Leto and co-star McConaughey for “letting us torture you and transform you” — and Catherine Martin won two Oscars, for costume design and production design, for The Great Gatsby, directed by Martin’s husband, Baz Luhrmann.

Gravity went into the night tied with a leading 10 nominations with American Hustle — which was ultimately shut out — and the white-knuckle space thriller won best director for Alfonso Cuarón plus original score, cinematography, film editing, sound mixing, sound editing and visual effects.

“It was definitely a transformative experience,” Cuarón said of making Gravity. “What really sucks is for a lot of people the transformation was wisdom. For me, it was the color of my hair.”

Visual-effects supervisor Tim Webber noted director Cuarón’s “audacity and courage” in letting the FX crew work its magic and thanked stars George Clooney and Sandra Bullock for “filling our visual effects with life and emotion.”

Gravity composer Steven Price shared his win with Cuarón. He said, “You inspired every frame of this and every note I composed.”

Disney’s blockbuster musical Frozen put all its competitors on ice and was honored with the Academy Awards for best animated feature and best original song. The movie’s Let It Go songwriter Robert Lopez added an Oscar to his career Emmy, Grammy, Tony wins, and his wife Kristen Anderson-Lopez paid tribute to their two children. “This song is inspired by our love for you and the hope that you never let fear or shame keep you from celebrating the unique people you are.”

The Oscar for original screenplay went to Her director Spike Jonze, who thanked his filmmaking friends on the feature. “We made a movie about relationships and intimacy, and that’s what we share together.”

And John Ridley won adapted screenplay for 12 Years a Slave, based on the life of Solomon Northup, a free black man who was sold into slavery. “All the praise goes to Solomon Northup,” Ridley said in his acceptance speech. “Those are his words and his story.”

The Italian movie The Great Beauty followed up its Golden Globe win with the Oscar for best foreign film. Director Paolo Sorrentino took time to thank Federico Fellini, Martin Scorsese and Argentine soccer star Diego Maradona.

Mr. Hublot garnered the Oscar for animated short, Helium won for live-action short, The Lady In Number 6 was awarded best documentary short subject and 20 Feet from Stardom, a movie about backup singers in the music industry, garnered best documentary. Darlene Love belted out a tune for the crowd, and director Morgan Neville dedicated the Oscar to producer Gil Friesen, who died two years ago: “Today I know he’s celebrating with us.”

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