British film makers are celebrating top honours at the Oscars after space drama Gravity won seven awards and Steve McQueen’s 12 Years A Slave was named best picture, writes Graham Walker.
London born director McQueen also saw his slavery epic picked up awards for best adapted screenplay and best supporting actress, for Lupita Nyong’o.
But it was Gravity, made with stunning visual effects in London, that virtually swept the board.
It picked up many awards for its British backroom staff while Mexican Alfonso Cuaron, who has lived in London for years, was named Best Director.
Nottingham-born musician Steven Price won the Oscar for original score for his work on Gravity.
He told journalists: “My house was full of music, my main memories are of the record player at home, it was all Beatles and Stones and we danced around the living room, that started me off on instruments and I’ve done nothing else ever since.”
Director Cuaron went out of his way to praise the visual effects experts at Framestore in London.
Speaking backstage at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles after picking up his Oscar, he said: “It’s very obvious the amazing quality and sophistication of the British film industry made this film happen and I am speaking specifically about Framestore and the amazing crew I worked with.
“I have done more films in the UK than any other country in the world, it’s the British film industry and the British film culture. The amazing thing is that the British film culture is in as good shape and in the industry right now there is more support and more incentives.”
The director reminded last month’s Bafta’s audience he had made “almost half” of his films in the UK and joked”I guess I’m a very good case for curbing immigration”.
McQueen, the former modern artist-turned film-maker got his moment in the spotlight as the ceremony in Los Angeles ended in triumph for his film 12 Years A Slave, which is based on the story of a free New Yorker, Solomon Northup, kidnapped and sold into slavery in the Deep South of the United States
Brad Pitt, who helped produce the film, praised the man who “brought us all together to tell that story - that is the indomitable Mr Steve McQueen”.
McQueen, who now lives in Amsterdam, thanked his wife who first showed him a copy of Northup’s original story for “unearthing this treasure for me”.
He said: “Everyone deserves not just to survive but to live. This is most important legacy of Solomon Northup. I dedicate this award to all the people who have endured slavery and 21 million people who still suffer slavery today”.
The best actor Oscar went to Matthew McConaughey for Dallas Buyers Club and Cate Blanchett was named best actress for her role in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine, beating Bullock, Dame Judi Dench, Amy Adams and Meryl Streep in the process.
Accepting her award, she praised her fellow actresses including the “sublime” Sally Hawkins and said films with strong female characters were not “niche”.
She said: “audiences want to see them and in fact they earn money”.
Accepting her award, Nyong’o thanked McQueen for casting her in a film which she said had “been the joy of my life”.
She said: “I’m certain the dead are standing about you and they are grateful and so am I”.
Speaking backstage, she said McQueen had “really honoured a people that have been unsung through doing this film”.
The star, who admitted to feeling “a little dazed”, said: “I am going to the Governors Ball and doing all things Oscar related, this is my first time here and I feel like Willy Wonka in the chocolate factory.”
McConaughey’s Dallas Buyers Club co-star Jared Leto was the first big winner on the night and promised to celebrate to “the break of dawn”.
Les Miserables star Anne Hathaway handed the Oscar for best supporting actor to Leto for his role as an HIV-positive transgender woman in the film.
Leto, who dedicated his win to the “36 million people who have lost the battle to Aids”, beat big names including Michael Fassbender who was nominated for 12 Years A Slave.
Speaking backstage, Leto said: “I never thought this would happen, nobody talked about results or awards or potential, only how could we do the best job to bring this story to life. I never in a million years dreamed I would be here talking to you, it was a fantasy. I never dreamed they would give me a prize, I never won an award for doing anything on screen until Dallas Buyers Club.
“I am going to be celebrating to the break of dawn, look me in the eyes and see I will revel tonight. If they only knew what was going to happen tonight, the stories we would have to tell.”
There were two early British wins with the visual effects team behind Gravity picking up an Oscar before the award for best documentary short went to The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life - a week after its inspiration, pianist and world’s oldest Holocaust survivor, Alice Herz-Sommer, 110, died in London.
Director Malcolm Clarke, who now lives in Canada but learned his trade at the BBC and Granada TV, dedicated the win to her “extraordinary capacity for joy and her amazing capacity for forgiveness”.
Host Ellen DeGeneres opened the show with a string of gags poking fun at the event, at one point ordering pizzas and took a selfie, featuring a glaxy of Hollywood stars, which she got the global TV audience to retweet and set a new world record.
As of this morning it had been retweeted more than 2.4 million times.
The selfie features, front row from left, Jared Leto, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Ellen DeGeneres, Bradley Cooper, Peter Nyong’o Jr, and, second row, from left, Channing Tatum, Julia Roberts, Kevin Spacey, Brad Pitt, Lupita Nyong’o and Angelina Jolie. Join in the world record and retweet it now @TheEllenShow.
The event, known formally as the 86th Academy Awards, is broadcast around the world from the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.
Bill Murray paid tribute to his Ghostbusters co-star Harold Ramis, who died last month, before handing over another award - this time for cinematography - to Gravity which continued to pick up awards when director Alfonso Cuaron and Mark Sanger won the Oscar for film editing.
Ramis was also remembered in a section of the ceremony dedicated to those who died in the 12 months since the last ceremony along with names including Philip Seymour Hoffman, Peter O’Toole and Richard Griffiths.
Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch joined Jennifer Garner on stage to present the award for production design to The Great Gatsby, before the Oscar for original score went to Steven Price for Gravity.
The musician from Nottingham praised Cuaron for inspiring him and thanked his family, joking: “Mum, Dad, Jenny sorry I made so much noise while I was growing up.”
Speaking backstage, Price said: “My house was full of music, my main memories are of the record player at home, it was all Beatles and Stones and we danced around the living room, that started me off on instruments and I’ve done nothing else ever since.”
U2 lost out on the chance for an Oscar when the award for best song went to Let It Go from Frozen and Steve Coogan failed to win the best adapted screenplay Oscar for Philomena with 12 Years A Slave writer John Ridley picking up the prize.
The award for best original screenplay went to Spike Jonze for Her.
AND THE WINNERS, OF THE TOP AWARDS, ARE...
* Performance by an actor in a leading role:
Matthew McConaughey for Dallas Buyers Club
* Performance by an actress in a leading role:
Cate Blanchett for Blue Jasmine
* Performance by an actor in a supporting role:
Jared Leto for Dallas Buyers Club
* Performance by an actress in a supporting role:
Lupita Nyong’o for 12 Years A Slave
* Achievement in directing:
Alfonso Cuaron for Gravity
* Best motion picture of the year:
12 Years A Slave
* Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score):
Steven Price for Gravity
* Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song):
Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez for Let It Go from Frozen
* Adapted screenplay:
John Ridley for 12 Years A Slave
* Original screenplay:
Spike Jonze for Her
THE 2014 OSCARS BY NUMBERS
The 86th Academy Awards have been held in Los Angeles. Here is the ceremony in numbers:
6,028 - members of the academy who are eligible to vote
50 - Oscar statuettes created for the ceremony
2,900 - Oscar statuettes handed out since the ceremony began
13.5 (34.3cm) - the height in inches of the statuettes
500 - the length of the red carpet outside the Dolby Theatre in feet
75 - photographers on the red carpet
76 - countries submitting foreign language films
225 - countries where the 86th Oscar telecast will be seen
40.3 million - Americans who watched last year’s ceremony