Gravity may be set in space, but it achieved a landslide at the 86th Academy Awards, taking seven Oscars, while 12 Years a Slave went home with three.
The technical prowess of Alfonso Cuarón's sci-fi drama meant it dominated the first half of the ceremony, taking visual effects, sound editing, sound mixing, cinematography, editing and original score. It was that final couple of categories which pointed the way to the landslide ahead; Cuarón himself jointly accepted the award for editing, though he was cut off by the orchestra before being able to speak.
His chance came later, when he picked up the prize for best director, making him the first Latino film-maker to take the honour. In a speech that mixed English and Spanish, he thanked his family and crew, in particular Sandra Bullock, "the soul, the heart of the film … and one of the best people I ever met".
In her opening monologue, ceremony host Ellen DeGeneres addressed the central battle between Gravity and 12 Years a Slave. There were two possibilities for the evening, she said – "That 12 Years a Slave wins the best picture Oscar. And possibility two: you're all racists."
It was a relief, then, when McQueen's drama did indeed take the big prize. Picking up his award alongside producer Brad Pitt, McQueen offered thanks to cast, crew and family, particularly "all the women in my life".
He went on to dedicate the award to "the 21 million people who still endure slavery" and quoted from the film saying "everyone deserves not just to survive but to live".
The film's star, Lupita Nyong'o, was a popular winner of the best supporting actress prize earlier in the evening, while John Ridley took the best adapted screenplay prize. Both dedicated their wins to Solomon Northup, whose memoir the film is based on.
Dallas Buyers Club also performed strongly, taking both male acting awards, as well as best hair and makeup. Jared Leto picked up the first award of the evening, for best supporting actor, and used his speech to give a shout out to citizens of Ukraine. He also paid tribute to those who had died from Aids, the disease that the film focuses on.
Picking up the best actor award, Matthew McConaughey – whose career has seen an unprecedented renaissance in recent years – thanked God, his family (in particular his late father, whom he pictured in heaven) and his hero, who turned out to be himself, 10 years hence: "It keeps me as somebody who keeps on chasing."
Cate Blanchett had been seen as the one dead cert, and she progressed to take home the best actress prize as anticipated. In her speech, Blanchett paid tribute to her fellow nominees individually, as well to her director Woody Allen, who many felt she might neglect to mention, following the storm of negative publicity surrounding Allen in recent weeks.
Paolo Sorrentino's The Great Beauty won best foreign language film, with the director offering thanks to, among others, Fellini, Scorsese, Maradona, Rome and his brother Marco.
There was a minor upset in the documentary category, in which the odds-on The Act of Killing, Joshua Oppenheimer's surreal and inventive study of the Indonesian death squads of the 1960s, was trumped by 20 Feet from Stardom, about the lot of the backing singer. The film was the one triumph for the Weinstein Company, whose fortunes dipped a little following many years of Oscars dominance.
DeGeneres – who first acted as MC seven years ago – proved popular both on social media and inside the auditorium, mingling with the crowd, ordering pizza (delivered by a bonafide delivery man) and snapping selfies with the celebrities. One featuring Bradley Cooper, Brad Pitt, Meryl Streep and more DeGeneres put forward in a bid for the most retweeted picture of all time. Her ambition was achieved around an hour after it was published, knocking Barack Obama's post-election win hug with his wife Michelle off the top spot.
• More details to come …
Tonight's winners in full
Best supporting actor
Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips
Bradley Cooper, American Hustle
Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave
Jonah Hill, The Wolf of Wall Street
WINNER: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
Best costume design
Best makeup and hairstyling
WINNERS: Adruitha Lee and Robin Mathews, Dallas Buyers Club
Stephen Prouty, Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa
Joel Harlow and Gloria Pasqua-Casny, The Lone Ranger
Best short film (animated)
Get a Horse!
WINNER: Mr Hublot
Room on the Broom
Best visual effects
Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn't Me)
Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just before Losing Everything)
Pitääkö Mun Kaikki Hoitaa? (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?)
The Voorman Problem
Best documentary short
Karama Has No Walls
WINNER: The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life
Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall
Best foreign film
Best sound mixing
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Inside Llewyn Davis
Best sound editing
Best supporting actress
Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine
Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
WINNER: Lupita Nyong'o, 12 Years a Slave
Julia Roberts, August: Osage County
June Squibb, Nebraska
Dallas Buyers Club
12 Years a Slave
Best production design
WINNER: Catherine Martin, Beverley Dunn, The Great Gatsby
12 Years a Slave
Best original score
Best original song
Alone Yet Not Alone, Alone Yet Not Alone [disqualified]
Happy, Despicable Me 2
WINNER: Let It Go, Frozen
The Moon Song, Her
Ordinary Love, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
Best adapted screenplay
Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, Before Midnight
Billy Ray, Captain Phillips
Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope, Philomena
WINNER: John Ridley, 12 Years a Slave
Terence Winter, The Wolf of Wall Street
Best original screenplay
Eric Warren Singer and David O Russell, American Hustle
Woody Allen, Blue Jasmine
Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack, Dallas Buyers Club
WINNER: Spike Jonze, Her
Bob Nelson, Nebraska
David O Russell, American Hustle
WINNER: Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity
Alexander Payne, Nebraska
Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave
Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street
Christian Bale, American Hustle
Bruce Dern, Nebraska
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street
Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
WINNER: Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
WINNER: 12 Years a Slave
Dallas Buyers Club
The Wolf of Wall StreetThis article was written by Catherine Shoard, for theguardian.com on Monday 3rd March 2014 05.07 Europe/London
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