BRITAIN is basking in the glory of Academy Awards success after Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave was named best film and space drama Gravity landed seven Oscars.
Matthew McConaughey and Cate Blanchett won the best actor and actress awards, for their respective roles as an electrician whose life is turned upside down after being diagnosed with Aids in Dallas Buyers Club and a troubled socialite in Woody Allen’s latest comedy-drama Blue Jasmine.
However, two of the most hotly tipped films – FBI caper American Hustle, which had ten nominations, and Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street, which was in the running for five awards – lost out. Mexican-born, British-based filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón, who co-produced Gravity with David Heyman, led the Oscars charge for the film, winning best director.
Chiwetel Ejiofor lost out on the best actor award for his role in McQueen’s film but his co-star, Mexican-born Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o, won best supporting actress, while McConaughey’s Dallas Buyers Club co-star Jared Leto won the best supporting actor award.
Writer John Ridley won the third Oscar for 12 Years a Slave for best adapted screenplay, for his transformation of the 1853 memoir of Solomon Northup, a free man sold into slavery in pre-Civil War Louisiana.
McQueen, a former artist who won the Turner Prize in 1999, won the best picture Oscar with only his third feature.
He dedicated his Academy Award – the first best picture Oscar to be collected by a black filmmaker – to “all those people who have endured slavery and 21 million people who still suffer slavery today”.
McQueen, who was joined on stage by the film’s co-producer Brad Pitt, told the audience:
“Everyone deserves not just to survive, but to live. This is the most important legacy of Solomon Northup.”
The director later said backstage that the film’s success was proof that times had changed: “It’s the mark of development and how we see that time in history now [that] the background characters are now in the foreground.”
Nyong’o paid tribute to
McQueen, saying: “I’m certain that the dead are standing about you and they are watching and they are grateful, and so am I.”
Australian actress Blanchett used her victory speech to rail against film industry figures who “still foolishly cling to the idea that female films with women at [their] centre are niche experiences. They are not. Audiences want to see them, and in fact, they earn money.”
Although Cuarón’s film featured two of America’s biggest stars, George Clooney and Sandra Bullock, it was made in London with an all-British special effects team. The 3D space thriller’s other wins included best visual effects, best original score and best film editing.
Cuarón, who spent five years making Gravity, and is the first Latin American to win the best director Oscar, said: “The amazing quality and sophistication of the British film industry made this film happen. British film culture is in as good shape as the American industry right now.”
There was further glory for Britain when the award for best documentary short went to The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life – just a week after its subject, the world’s oldest Holocaust survivor Alice Herz-Sommer, died in London at the age of 110. Director Malcolm Clarke dedicated the win to her “extraordinary capacity for joy and amazing capacity for forgiveness”.
Amanda Nevill, chief executive of the British Film Institute, said: “We join the whole British film industry in congratulating Steve McQueen on the awards for his remarkable and important film, 12 Years a Slave, and Alfonso Cuarón whose astonishing film, Gravity, was made right here in the UK. Our industry continues to punch above its weight.”
The awards were hosted by comedian Ellen DeGeneres, who opened the show with a string of digs at the event.
A “selfie” taken on her phone featuring Meryl Streep, Brad Pitt, Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence swiftly became the most retweeted tweet in Twitter’s history, reaching the two million mark by the end of the ceremony.
Glasgow films made £20m
FILM and television productions were worth almost £20 million to Glasgow’s economy last year, new figures reveal.
Billy Connolly’s film What We Did On Our Holiday, which he shot in the city with David Tennant last summer, and BBC drama Waterloo Road were among the most lucrative productions made in 2013.
The Glasgow Film Office revealed that 231 productions were shot in the city over the space of 12 months. Some £250m has been generated for Glasgow by films and TV shows over the last 15 years, with Cloud Atlas, The Angels’ Share, World War Z and Perfect Sense among the most high-profile.
The city was used for location filming for two Edinburgh-set films released last year – Sunshine on Leith and Filth – while Scarlett Johansson’s new film Under the Skin, which closed the Glasgow Film Festival on Sunday, was extensively shot in the city.
List of Main Academy Awards Winners
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