While "Gravity" pulled off a near-sweep at the Academy Awards, it was the gripping historical drama "12 Years a Slave" that took the top prize, with Steve McQueen's harrowing retelling of the trials of Solomon Northup winning the Oscar for Best Picture on Sunday night in Hollywood.
Despite losing out to "12 Years a Slave," Alfonso Cuaron's technological marvel was the clear leader, dominating the show with seven wins for directing, cinematography and editing, among others. David O. Russell's "American Hustle," by contrast, was completely shut out.
With many of the main categories considered foregone conclusions after a lengthy awards season that pushed freshly minted Oscar winners Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto and Cate Blanchett to the front of the pack, all eyes were on the few remaining categories left up in the air, including Best Supporting Actress. In that race, Lupita Nyong'o ("12 Years a Slave") bested closest rival Jennifer Lawrence ("American Hustle"), earning an Oscar for her first film role. "It doesn't escape me for one minute that so much joy in my life is because of so much pain in someone else's," Nyong'o said in a tear-filled, emotional acceptance speech. "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."
As for Leto, the first-time nominee kicked off the night with an expected win for his portrayal of transgender AIDS patient Rayon in "Dallas Buyers Club." Leto honored his mother while accepting his award. "Thank you for teaching me to dream," he told her from the stage. "To all the dreamers out there watching around the world in places like the Ukraine and Venezuela, I want to say that... We're thinking of you tonight."
Host Ellen DeGeneres, returning to the job after emceeing the show in 2007, grabbed the torch from Seth MacFarlane and promised a ceremony with less song-and-dance and less controversy. She kicked off the show in a sparkly blue velvet tuxedo and a joke about the inclement weather in Los Angeles last week. (It had rained.) "We're fine," she assured the audience.
She also attempted to reassure the nominees that it wasn't really all about the competition. "Who are we kidding? It's the Hunger Games," she soon admitted. "You're starving, there are cameras everywhere, and Jennifer Lawrence won last year." But after a strong start, the ceremony quickly took on a lagging pace, seeming to drag on with extraneous segments focusing on the show's theme of celebrating heroes. And though DeGeneres had vowed to be more involved in the show beyond the first half hour - unlike previous hosts - that promise didn't appear to bear out.
Here are the winners of the 2014 Academy Awards:
BEST PICTURE: "12 Years a Slave"
BEST ACTOR: Matthew McConaughey, "Dallas Buyers Club"
BEST ACTRESS: Cate Blanchett, "Blue Jasmine"
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Jared Leto, "Dallas Buyers Club"
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Lupita Nyong'o, "12 Years a Slave"
BEST DIRECTOR: Alfonso Cuaron, "Gravity"
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE: "Frozen"
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: "The Great Beauty"
BEST DOCUMENTARY: "20 Feet From Stardom"
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: John Ridley, "12 Years a Slave"
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Spike Jonze, "Her"
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: "Gravity"
BEST SCORE: "Gravity"
BEST SONG: "Let It Go," "Frozen"
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS: "Gravity"
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN: "The Great Gatsby"
BEST COSTUME DESIGN: "The Great Gatsby"
BEST MAKEUP & HAIR: "Dallas Buyers Club"
BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM: "Mr. Hublot."
BEST SHORT FILM: "Helium"
BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT: "The Lady in No. 6"
BEST FILM EDITING: "Gravity"
BEST SOUND MIXING: "Gravity"
BEST SOUND EDITING: "Gravity"