After an intensely tight Best Picture “race” – easily the closest one since I started following the whole dog-and-pony show in 2001 – it was British director Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave that was anointed as the year’s Best Picture by the Academy of Motion Picture, Arts and Sciences. The searing drama, which recounts the incredible true-life story of Solomon Northup – a free black man sold into slavery, claimed three Oscars including one for John Ridley’s screenplay (Best Adapted Screenplay) and another for Lupita Nyong’o’s heartbreaking performance (Best Supporting Actress).
Although 12 Years a Slave wasn’t my favorite film of the year, nor of the nominees, it still is, at least in my eyes, the best film to win the prize since No Country for Old Men won it in 2007. That should speak to the banner year of quality cinema that 2013 was.
McQueen’s film may have been the one with the title “Best Picture winner” added to its list of accolades but it was Alfonso Cuaron’s dazzling space thriller Gravity (my favorite of the nominees), that took home the most wins of the night. The smash 3D survival drama netted a grand total of seven Oscars, including two for Cuaron – Best Director and Best Film Editing. With its landmark work in the technical fields, Gravity was widely expected to sweep the craft categories… and it did just that. Along with Best Director and Film Editing, it also won Oscars for Best Cinematography, Best Original Score, Best Visual Effects, Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing.
Aside from Best Supporting Actress winner Nyong’o, the other acting winners were Cate Blanchett as Best Actress for her ferocious performance in Blue Jasmine, and Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto as Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor respectively for their work in AIDS drama Dallas Buyers Club. That film was also honored for its Makeup work.
Other multiple award winners included Disney’s Frozen and Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby. Both films batted 100%, winning both their nominations. Frozen won Best Animated Film and Best Original Song for “Let it Go” while The Great Gatsby won Best Costume Design and Best Production Design.
Italy’s The Great Beauty was named Best Foreign Language Feature and Best Documentary Feature went to 20 Feet from Stardom.
Overall, it was a very predictable night with all the frontrunners prevailing. In fact, the only surprises came in the Short film categories and in Film Editing. Coincidentally, those were the very categories I got wrong. I went 20-24 with my predictions this year, which was equal to how I scored last year. I may have won my Oscar pool last year but this time, it was only good for fifth place.
Along with missing two of the three Shorts categories, which went to Helium (Best Live-Action Short), Mr. Hublot (Best Animated Short) and The Lady in Number 6 (Best Documentary Short), I incorrectly predicted Best Film Editing would go to ACE Eddie winner Captain Phillips. But worst of all was Best Original Screenplay! I foolishly, at the last hour (literally), switched my prediction from Her to American Hustle. I thought the Academy would throw David O. Russell’s film a bone in this field since it would be losing everywhere else. Not the case… it went home empty-handed (0-10). We can’t all be winners.
Full List of winners below:
BEST PICTURE: 12 Years a Slave
BEST DIRECTOR: Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity)
BEST ACTRESS: Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
BEST ACTOR: Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: 12 Years a Slave (John Ridley)
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Her (Spike Jonze)
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE: Frozen
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: The Great Beauty (Italy)
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: 20 Feet from Stardom
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: Gravity (Emmanuel Lubezki)
BEST COSTUME DESIGN: The Great Gatsby (Catherine Martin)
BEST FILM EDITING: Gravity (Alfonso Cuaron & Mark Sanger)
BEST MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING: Dallas Buyers Club
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN: The Great Gatsby (Catherine Martin)
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE: Gravity (Stephen Price)
BEST ORIGINAL SONG: “Let it Go (Frozen)
BEST SOUND EDITING: Gravity
BEST SOUND MIXING: Gravity
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS: Gravity
BEST LIVE-ACTION SHORT: Helium
BEST ANIMATED SHORT: Mr. Hublot
BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT: The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life