Unflinching slavery drama “12 Years a Slave” took home the Oscar for best picture at Sunday’s Academy Awards, and its star Lupita Nyong’o added to the film’s trophy case by claiming the best supporting actress award.
“Everyone deserves not just to survive, but to live,” director Steve McQueen said when accepting the award. “I dedicate this award to all the people who have endured slavery and the 21 million that still suffer slavery today.”
London-born McQueen is the first black director to take home a best-picture award.
In a teary, heartfelt speech, Nyong’o saluted her enslaved character, Patsey, and Solomon Northup, the free black man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in 1841, and wrote the memoir upon which the film is based. The film also won the best adapted screenplay award.
Fans of Matthew McConaughey are feeling “alright, alright” after the actor proved the road to “McConaissance” is indeed paved in Oscar gold when he won the best lead actor award for “Dallas Buyers Club,” in which he plays Texan Ron Woodroof, who smuggled unapproved drugs into the United States to fight AIDS.
McConaughey, who was at one time known for his turn in rom-coms, showed off some of his charm when he gave a nod to his late father, telling the audience he envisioned him dancing around in heaven with a pot of gumbo, a lemon-meringue pie, and a cold can of Miller Lite. Naturally, he closed out his speech and a stellar awards season with his iconic line from 1993’s “Dazed and Confused,” shouting “alright alright alright.”
McConaughey’s “Dallas Buyers Club” co-star Jared Leto won the best supporting actor award for playing transgender Texan Rayon.
“This is for the 36 million people who have lost the battle to AIDS,” Leto said in his acceptance speech. “To those of you who have felt injustice because of who you love and who you are, I stand here with you and for you.”
But it wasn’t all serious talk for Leto, who also mentioned the conflict in Ukraine during his speech. Before even winning his award, host Ellen DeGeneres joked that he was the “most beautiful” person at the ceremony (with his enviable ombre highlights and crisp tux, can you deny it?). And after he won, backstage observers reported that he was passing his Oscar around and allowing others to be photographed with it — until Academy officials requested he stop.
As expected, Cate Blanchett took home the best lead actress Oscar for her role in Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine.” Although Allen made headlines lately regarding molestation allegations involving his adoptive daughter Dylan Farrow, Blanchett acknowledged him in her acceptance speech, saying, “Thank you so much Woody for casting me, I appreciate it.”
It was Blanchett’s second Oscar, coming a decade after her 2004 best supporting award for “The Aviator.”
On a fairly predictable night, DeGeneres lightened things up with some surprises — taking a celebrity-studded selfie, having pizza delivered to the audience, and suddenly appearing in full pink pouf as “Oz’s” Glinda the Good Witch.
That’s not to say the broadcast was completely safe. Degeneres did get some jabs in: She praised 84-year-old nominee June Squibb, and then raised her voice and spoke slowly and loudly to the actress as if speaking to a hard-of-hearing elderly person, saying, “I’m telling everyone that you were wonderful in ‘Nebraska.’” The audience, and more importantly Squibb, all got a good laugh.
Her sharpest dig of the night was a tweak of Oscar-winner Liza Minnelli, there to honor her mother Judy Garland’s movie “The Wizard of Oz.” As the camera cut to Minnelli, DeGeneres praised “one of the most amazing Liza Minnelli impersonators I have ever seen in my life. … Good job, sir.”
The night was exceptionally starry for space drama “Gravity,” which claimed numerous technical awards and the best director statuette for Alfonso Cuaron, the first Latino to win in that category.
Cuaron thanked star Sandra Bullock, saying “Sandy, you’re ‘Gravity.’ You’re the soul, heart of the film. … One of the best people I’ve ever met.”
“Gravity’s” awards included best film editing, cinematography, sound editing, best score, sound mixing and visual effects.
Disney blockbuster “Frozen” claimed the best animated feature film Oscar, and its hit song, “Let It Go,” won for best original song. “Happy Oscars to you, let’s do ‘Frozen 2,’ sang husband-and-wife winners Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez. The song was performed live, in a much-awaited performance, by Broadway star Idina Menzel, who voices and sings the role of Queen Elsa in the movie. Menzel took the stage after actor John Travolta mangled her name, sparking plenty of jokes on social media.
Other winners were:
- Spike Jonze won the award for best original screenplay for “Her.”
- “Mr. Hublot” won for best animated short.
- “Helium” for best live-action short film.
- “The Lady in Number 6,” about Alice Herz Sommer, a Holocaust survivor and concert pianist who died Feb. 23 aged 110, won for best documentary short subject.
- “20 Feet from Stardom,” which focuses on the backup singers behind musical legends, won for best documentary feature.
- Italy’s “The Great Beauty” won for best foreign-language film.
- Adruitha Lee and Robin Mathews of “Dallas Buyers Club” won the award for makeup and hairstyling.
- Catherine Martin won the costume design Oscar for “The Great Gatsby,” an award also won by the 1974 film version of “Gatsby.”