Sunday 23 November 2014

And the Oscar goes to diversity as academy gets its act together

Jessica Herndon in Los Angeles

Published 04/03/2014 | 02:30

Matthew McConaughey, Cate Blanchett, Lupita Nyong'o and Jared Leto
Best Oscars photo-bomb? Actor Benedict Cumberbatch jumps behind U2 at the 86th Academy Awards in Hollywood, California March 2, 2014. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Mchael Fassbender and his mother Adele arriving at the 86th Academy Awards held at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood
Oscar selfie shows movie stars, front row, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Ellen DeGeneres, Bradley Cooper and Nyong'o's brother Peter, and back row, Tatum Channing, Julia Roberts, Kevin Spacey, Brad Pitt, Lupita Nyong'o and Angelina Jolie.

The brutal, unshrinking historical drama '12 Years A Slave' won Best Picture at the 86th annual Academy Awards, where diversity was perhaps the biggest winner.

For the first time, a movie directed by a black filmmaker – Steve McQueen of '12 Years A Slave' – won Best Picture, and a Mexican – Alfonso Cuaron of 'Gravity' – took home Best Director in a ceremony presided over by a lesbian host and overseen by the academy's first black president.

Cuaron's lost-in-space thriller 'Gravity' led the Oscars with seven awards, including cinematography, editing, score, visual effects, sound mixing and sound editing.

The entire Oscar ceremony had the feel of a makeover for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences – an institution that has sometimes seemed stuck in the past.

'Dallas Buyers Club', the Best Picture-nominated drama about AIDS in 1980s Texas, took two decades to get made after countless executives balked at financing such a tale. Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto won best actor and best supporting actor for their roles in the film as a heterosexual rodeo rat (McConaughey) and a transgender drug addict (Leto) united by HIV.

Cate Blanchett, best-actress winner for her bitter, ruined socialite in Woody Allen's 'Blue Jasmine', used her acceptance speech to trumpet the need to make films with female leads – films like her own and 'Gravity', starring Sandra Bullock.

Lupita Nyong'o was a first-time Oscar winner for her supporting role as field slave Patsey in '12 Years'. "I'm a little dazed," said the Kenyan actress afterwards. "I can't believe this is real life."

The Irish ended up empty-handed. U2 were tipped to win the Best Original Song for 'Ordinary Love' from 'Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom' but lost to 'Let it Go' from animated film 'Frozen'.

Michael Fassbender, nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his performance as a slave owner in '12 Years', lost out to Leto.

Irish Independent

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