12 Years beats weighty Gravity to the top Oscar
In what turns out to have been one of the most predictable Awards seasons in many years, 12 Years a Slave has taken the top Oscar, while missing out on most of the others it was in line for.
Apart from the Best Picture honours, only Lupita Nyong’o, the Mexican-born Kenyan, who lives in New York, won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar and John Ridley’s screenplay, adapted from the memoirs of the free black man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery, also won.
It’s other main contenders, both Britons, had been Best Actor nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor, who lost out to Matthew McConaughey for Dallas Buyers Club, and its director Steve McQueen, who was pipped by another Mexican, Gravity‘s Alfonso Cuaron.
It was Gravity that was the big winner on the night, taking a total of seven Oscars, including most of the technical awards, as befitting a film that laid new ground-rules for the future of effects movies. Cinematography, visual effects, editing, sound editing, sound mixing and score all went to the elegantly simple story of a stranded astronaut trying to make it back to earth after an accident on a space shuttle.
Sandra Bullock, who played that astronaut, lost out in the Best Actress contest to Cate Blanchett, who was touted as the Oscar winner from the moment the first critics saw her barnstorming performance in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine. The fourth acting award saw McConaughey’s co-star Jared Leto return from a side-career as a rock star to take the Best Supporting Actor prize.
With many of the winners repeating success at the start of the awards season at the Golden Globes, the Best Original Screenplay went to Spike Jonze, for the near-future set romance Her. Frozen won the Best Animated Feature and Italy’s The Great Beauty was voted the Best Foreign Language, a category that for the first time allowed Academy members to take part in the ballot even if the hadn’t seen the films.
A box office hit about backing singers, 20 Feet From Stardom, picked up the Best Documentary Feature, while the Best Documentary Short prize went to The Lady in Number 6, about the oldest Holocaust survivor, Aliza Sommer-Herz, who sadly died, at the age of 113, just a week before she could see her life story honoured by Hollywood. The other short film awards sent to Helium for live action and Mr Hublot for the animation.
In addition to its two acting awards, Dallas Buyers Club also won the Best Hair and Make-Up award, for the way its Oscar-winning leads were transformed, while the other technical categories, Production Design and Costume, both went to The Great Gatsby.
On a night when commentators were torn between whether the top prize would go to 12 Years a Slave, Gravity or American Hustle, which ended the night empty handed despite winning two Golden Globes for acting, the only real surprise on Oscar night was in the Best Original Song category, where voters eschewed the politically popular Globe winner from U2 from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, in favour of Frozen.