15:20 | 03/03/2014 Entertainment
The slavery drama "12 Years a Slave" won the best picture Oscar on Sunday, becoming the first film from a black director to win the film industry's top honor in the 86 years of the Academy Awards.
The film from British director Steve McQueen is based on the memoirs of a free black man, Solomon Northup, who is tricked and sold into bondage in Louisiana in an unflinching account of pre-Civil War slavery in America.
Minutes earlier, Matthew McConaughe won the best actor Oscar for "Dallas Buyers Club."
Australian Cate Blanchett won the best actress Oscar for her role as a socialite who suffers a breakdown in Woody Allen's "Blue Jasmine."
The win is Blanchett's second Academy Award. The 44-year-old was favored to win this year's prize after picking up Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild and BAFTA awards earlier this year.
Mexican director Alfonso Cuaron won the Oscar for best director for the space thriller, "Gravity," in which an astronaut fights for her survival after being cut loose from her space shuttle.
It was the first Academy Award for Cuaron, 52, and the first best director Oscar for a Mexican. His 3-D film starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney mixes dazzling special effects, suspense and human drama.
Accepting the Oscar, Cuaron paid special tribute to Bullock: "Sandy, you are 'Gravity', you are the soul and heart of the film. You are an amazing collaborator and one of the best people I have ever met."
Cuaron had been hotly tipped to win the best director category, having swept the prize in other awards ceremonies before Sunday's Oscars, including from the Directors Guild of America.
Cuaron, who as a child wanted to be an astronaut, spent three years with a team developing the film's special effects and on-screen space panoramas, which many critics said broke new ground in the use of 3-D cinematic technology.
Referring to the "transformative" experience he and others undertook in the four-plus years spent making "Gravity," Cuaron, whose hair is graying, said, "For a lot of these people, that transformation was wisdom. For me, it was just the color of my hair."
An emotional Lupita Nyong'o won the Oscar for best supporting actress for her role as the hardworking slave Patsey in drama "12 Years a Slave," capping a breakout awards season for the Yale-trained Kenyan actress.
Nyong'o, 31, won the Oscar in her first feature film role, earning a thunderous standing ovation from the Hollywood audience. She beat fellow frontrunner Jennifer Lawrence's portrayal of a loopy housewife in caper "American Hustle" in one of the most closely-watched Academy Award races this year.
"Yes!" the actress exclaimed when accepting the award after hugging her brother, "12 Years a Slave" director Steve McQueen and other actors in the film.
"It doesn't escape me for one moment that so much joy in my life is thanks to so much pain in someone else's, and so I want to salute the spirit of Patsey, for her guidance."
Nyong'o, who earned the same award from her peers at the Screen Actors Guild Awards in January, was chosen for the role from some 1,000 young actresses who auditioned.
"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," Nyong'o said, with tears in her eyes.
The Oscar marks Nyong'o's coronation into the top echelon of dramatic actresses working in Hollywood.
"I'm a little dazed, I can't believe this (award) is in my hands, I can't believe this is real life, I'm just really overwhelmed," Nyong'o told reporters backstage./.