In one of the tightest races in years, the Steve McQueen film beat out “American Hustle, “Gravity” and 8 others nominated in the category.
In fact, the film – produced by Brad Pitt’s Plan B Productions and released through Fox Searchlight – went home with multiple awards including best supporting actress (Lupita Nyong’o) and best adapted screenplay (John Ridgley) and of course, best picture.
Adapted by McQueen and Ridley from Solomon Northup’s 19th century memoir, the film tells the true story of a free black man living in New York who is drugged, kidnapped and sold into slavery in Louisiana.
In winning the best film award, “12 Years” made history; it’s the first movie from a black director to win the film industry’s highest honor in the Oscars’ 86 years of existence.
“Everyone deserves not just to survive but to live, this is the most important legacy of Solomon Northup,” McQueen said in his acceptance speech.
Owing largely to its often graphic depictions of lynching, whipping and rape — “Either I was going to make a movie about slavery or I wasn’t,” McQueen said — the film proved difficult to watch for many people, including Oscar voters.
Via Deadline, here’s a complete list of winners of the 86th Academy Awards:
PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE Jared Leto in “Dallas Buyers Club” (Focus Features)
ACHIEVEMENT IN COSTUME DESIGN “The Great Gatsby” (Warner Bros.) Catherine Martin
ACHIEVEMENT IN MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING “Dallas Buyers Club” (Focus Features) Adruitha Lee and Robin Mathews
BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM “Mr. Hublot”
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM OF THE YEAR “Frozen” (Walt Disney) Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee and Peter Del Vecho
ACHIEVEMENT IN VISUAL EFFECTS “Gravity” (Warner Bros.) Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, Dave Shirk and Neil Corbould
BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM “Helium” An M & M Production Anders Walter and Kim Magnusson
BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT “The Lady In Number 6: Music Saved My Life” A Reed Entertainment Production Malcolm Clarke and Nicholas Reed
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE “20 Feet From Stardom” (RADiUS-TWC) A Gil Friesen Productions and Tremolo Production Morgan Neville, Gil Friesen and Caitrin Rogers
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM OF THE YEAR “The Great Beauty” (Janus Films) – Italy An Indigo Film Production
ACHIEVEMENT IN SOUND MIXING “Gravity” (Warner Bros.) Skip Lievsay, Niv Adiri, Christopher Benstead and Chris Munro
PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE Lupita Nyong’o in “12 Years A Slave” (Fox Searchlight)
ACHIEVEMENT IN CINEMATOGRAPHY “Gravity” (Warner Bros.) Emmanuel Lubezki
ACHIEVEMENT IN FILM EDITING “Gravity” (Warner Bros.) Alfonso Cuarón and Mark Sanger
ACHIEVEMENT IN PRODUCTION DESIGN “The Great Gatsby” (Warner Bros.) Production Design: Catherine Martin; Costume Design: Beverley Dunn
ACHIEVEMENT IN MUSIC WRITTEN FOR MOTION PICTURES (ORIGINAL SCORE) “Gravity” (Warner Bros.) Steven Price
ACHIEVEMENT IN MUSIC WRITTEN FOR MOTION PICTURES (ORIGINAL SONG) “Let It Go” from “Frozen” (Walt Disney) Music and Lyric by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez
ADAPTED SCREENPLAY “12 Years A Slave” (Fox Searchlight) Screenplay by John Ridley
ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY “Her” (Warner Bros.) Written by Spike Jonze
ACHIEVEMENT IN DIRECTING “Gravity” (Warner Bros.) Alfonso Cuarón
PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE Cate Blanchett in “Blue Jasmine” (Sony Pictures Classics)
PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE Matthew McConaughey in “Dallas Buyers Club” (Focus Features)
BEST MOTION PICTURE OF THE YEAR “12 Years a Slave” (Fox Searchlight) A River Road, Plan B, New Regency Production Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Steve McQueen and Anthony Katagas, Producers