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'12 Years a Slave' makes history with best picture Oscar.

The slavery drama "12 Years a Slave" won the Academy Award for best picture on Sunday, making history as the first movie from a black director to win the film industry's highest honor in 86 years of the Oscars.

British director Steve McQueen's unflinching portrayal of pre-Civil War American slavery won two other Oscars, including best supporting actress for newcomer Lupita Nyong'o and best adapted screenplay based on the memoir of Solomon Northup, a free man tricked and sold into slavery in Louisiana.

"Everyone deserves not just to survive but to live. This is the most important legacy of Solomon Northup," said McQueen in his acceptance speech.

"12 Years a Slave," prevailed over space thriller "Gravity" from Mexican filmmaker Alfonso Cuaron, which nevertheless racked up the most Oscars of the night with seven, including the best director honor for Cuaron, a first for a Latin American director.

The film starring Sandra Bullock as an astronaut lost in space swept the technical awards like visual effects and cinematography, a reward for its groundbreaking work on conveying space and weightlessness.

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."

In one of the strongest years for film in recent memory, the 6,000-plus voters of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences scattered golden Oscar statuettes among the many acclaimed movies in contention.

It was a good night for the scrappy, low-budget film "Dallas Buyers Club," a biopic of an early AIDS activist two decades in the making that won three Oscars, including the two male acting awards.

Matthew McConaughey, in a validation of a remarkable career turnaround, won best actor for his portrayal of the homophobe turned AIDS victim turned treatment crusader Ron Woodroof, a role for which he lost 50 pounds (23 kg).

His co-star, Jared Leto, won best supporting actor for his role as Woodroof's unlikely business sidekick, the transgender woman Rayon, for which he also slimmed down drastically.

Australia's Cate Blanchett won the best actress Oscar for her acclaimed role as the socialite unhinged by her husband's financial crimes in Woody Allen's "Blue Jasmine."

"As random and subjective as this award is, it means a great deal in a year of, yet again, extraordinary performances by women," said Blanchett, who beat out previous Oscar winners Bullock, Amy Adams, Judi Dench and Meryl Streep.


The big loser of the night was director David O. Russell's 1970s crime caper "American Hustle," which walked away empty-handed despite earning 10 nominations, the same number as "Gravity." Martin Scorsese's tale of financial greed, "The Wolf of Wall Street," also failed to take home Oscars.

But it was also a night of predictable wins for heavy favorites.

The tale of Nordic princesses, "Frozen," won best animated film, a first for Disney Animation Studios since the category was introduced in 2002, and its girl-power anthem "Let It Go" won best original song.

For best foreign language film, Italy took its 11th Oscar in that category with "The Great Beauty," a visually stunning film about life in Rome and a writer in crisis.

Comic and talk show star Ellen DeGeneres returned as Oscar host on Sunday, bringing a deadpan affability, and pizza, to the Academy Awards show while still poking fun at Hollywood royalty.

In her easy breezy style, DeGeneres mixed with the crowd like she did back in 2007, taking a star-studded selfie with the likes of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie that broke the record for retweets on Twitter. And she largely avoided the ribald humor that landed her predecessor Seth MacFarlane in hot water last year.

Early reviews were broadly positive, but Variety's Brian Lowry noted that the opening monologue by DeGeneres "screamed of a desire to dial the show back to safer terrain."

Kenyan actress Nyong'o was one of the big stars of the night, not only for her winning pale blue Prada gown on the red carpet, but also for her touching speech.

In accepting the first award of the night for "12 Years a Slave," Nyong'o, 31, paid homage to her character, who picked more cotton than anyone else but suffered at the hands of her besotted yet evil master.

"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," a tearful Nyong'o told the audience.

Sunday capped an unusually long awards season, extended by the Winter Olympics, and for "12 Years a Slave" it spells the end of six months of both high acclaim and uncertainty over awards stemming from the perception that it was a hard film to watch.

The film from studio Fox Searchlight compelled Oscar voters to go see the film with the ad 'It's Time," fearing that they might skip it and throw their weight behind "Gravity." It has earned nearly $140 million at the worldwide box office, a fraction of the $700 million for "Gravity."

Meet the Best Actress nominees : Oscar 2014

The Academy awards are scheduled to be held on March 3.

With just a few days left to the Academy awards, anticipation and excitement has reached its zenith as film bloggers are busy making predictions and potential winners.

Here, we take a look at the five exceedingly talented actresses stars nominated in the Best Actress category.

There's Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine), who has been widely hailed as a shoo-in for the trophy, regular fixture Meryl Streep (August Osage County), Dame Judi Dench (Philomena), onscreen con woman Amy Adams (American Hustle) and lost astronaut Sandra Bullock (Gravity).

Box Office: ‘Lego Movie’ Scores $31.5 Mil, Demolishing ‘Pompeii,’ ’3 Days to Kill’

There were two new releases in the marketplace, neither of which impressed. Kevin Costner returned to “face on the poster” status with Relativity’s Three Days To Kill. The Luc Besson-produced. McG-directed action comedy earned $4.01 million yesterday and will likely end its first weekend with over/under $12 million. The good news is that the film cost Relativity and Eurocorp just $28 million, so the usual over/under $30 million here and over/under $30 million overseas for Luc Besson productions should be enough to break even during the theatrical run. I’m sure we’re all shocked that Kevin Costner is no longer the huge movie star he was in the 1990′s, but also keep in mind that his glory days were during a period when $20 million was a massive debut. His biggest opening weekends as a lead were Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves with $25 million in 1991 and $22 million for Waterworld in 1995.

The next opener was Sony /Tri-Star’s Pompeii. They did spend a dime producing this one, allowing Constantin Films to produce the $80-$100 million “Titanic Meets Gladiator Meets Dante’s Peak” hybrid and merely received a distribution fee. Film District handled the marketing. All of this is a long way of saying that Sony doesn’t care too much that the film made $3.4 million yesterday. The Paul W.S. Anderson film should end the frame with over/under $10 million and be a distant memory by next weekend. But the film is debuting overseas in 30 markets this weekend, and that’s where the film may actually make a few bucks. Paul W.S. Anderson’s The Three Musketeers earned $20 million in America back in late 2011 but earned $111 million overseas, one of the biggest spreads on record.

In holdover news, all three of last weekend’s “romantic films” dropped by around 82% from last Friday. Warner Bros.’ A Winter’s Tale earned $670,000 yesterday compared to $3.6 million last Friday. The much-discussed artistic misfire (which at least was apparently trying for something different) has now earned $9.7 million and will end the weekend with around $1.7 million and $11 million total. Endless Love, earned an estimated $1.3 million for Universal, down from $7.3 million last Friday. The $20 million romantic drama will end the weekend with around $4 million and bring its cume to $20 million.

And yes, even Sony’s About Last Night went from $12.7 million last Friday to $2.28 million yesterday. The ensemble 80′s remake (which I incorrectly labeled last weekend as being PG-13, it’s actually R) will pull about $7 million in its second frame and bring its cume to over/under $38 million. At $12.5 million-budgeted, it’s still a big hit with $33 million today. Sony’s Robocop earned approximately $2.6 million on its second Friday, down 62% from last Friday which is almost leggy for this weekend. The $100 million remake has thus-far earned $36 million domestic and should finish the second frame with $7.5 million and $42 million total. The good news is that it’s doing much better overseas, where it has earned $80 million as of Thursday. This may be a Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters situation, where the film fails to top $60 million but ends up with over $200 million worldwide.

Monuments Men held up okay in its third Friday, earning about $2.25 million (-53%) and aiming for a $7 million third frame with a resultant over/under $57 million cume. It’s at $52 million domestic as of today. Walt Disney's DIS +1.19% Frozen earned an estimated $1 million while Universal’s Ride Along earned an estimated $1.2 million. In limited release news, Walt Disney debuted an English-dubbed version of Hayao Miyazaki’s alleged swan song The Wind Rises. The film opened on 21 screens in advance of its 450 screen release next weekend and earned an okay $82,140 yesterday. Of course, the film has already earned $112 million overseas, so Disney’s domestic releases generally amount to the Mouse House doing a public service.

"12 Years a Slave" named Best Film at BAFTAs
"12 Years a Slave" named Best Film at BAFTAs

Steve McQueen's visceral, violent story of a free black man kidnapped into servitude in the 19th-century U.S. South was named best picture. Its star, Chiwetel Ejiofor, took the male acting trophy.

The force of Gravity was strong at the British Academy Film Awards on February 16 -- but it was unflinching drama 12 Years a Slave that took the top prize.

Ejiofor thanked McQueen, a visual artist who turned to filmmaking with Hunger and Shame, for bringing the story to the screen.

Holding the trophy, the British actor told McQueen: "This is yours. I'm going to keep it -- that's the kind of guy I am -- but it's yours."

McQueen reminded the ceremony's black-tie audience that, in some parts of the world, slavery is not a thing of the past.

"There are 21 million people in slavery as we sit here," he said. "I just hope 150 years from now our ambivalence will not allow another filmmaker to make this film."

The prizes, coming two weeks before Hollywood's Academy Awards, are watched as an indicator of likely Oscars success.

It was a good night for lost-in-space thriller Gravity, which won six prizes, including best director for Alfonso Cuaron.

The 3-D special effects extravaganza also took the awards for sound, music, cinematography and visual effects. And despite its mixed parentage -- made in Britain by a Mexican director and starring American actors --it was named best British film.

Cuaron paid tribute to star Sandra Bullock, who is alone onscreen for much of the film. "Without her performance, everything would have been nonsense," he said.

Con-artist caper American Hustle charmed its way to three prizes, including original screenplay and supporting actress for Jennifer Lawrence. Its spectacular 70s stylings took the hair and makeup award.

The best-actress prize went to Cate Blanchett for her turn as a socialite on the slide in Blue Jasmine. She dedicated the award to her friend and fellow actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, who died this month, calling him "a monumental presence who is now sadly an absence."

"Phil, buddy, this is for you, you bastard. I hope you're proud," Blanchett said.

The supporting actor prize went to Barkhad Abdi, who made an explosive screen debut as a Somali pirate in Captain Phillips.

The 28-year-old called his experience of going from obscurity in Minnesota to stardom -- complete with an Oscar nomination -- "surreal."

In the past few years, the British prizes, known as BAFTAs, have helped underdog films, including Slumdog Millionaire, The King's Speech and The Artist, gain Oscars momentum.

The prize for adapted screenplay went to Philomena, based on the true story of an Irish woman's decades-long search for the son she was forced to give up for adoption. The awards have become an essential stop for many Hollywood stars before the Academy Awards, held this year on March 2.

The temperature in London was hardly Hollywood, but Britain's fickle weather relented ahead of Sunday's ceremony. The sun shone as nominees including Wolf of Wall Street star Leonardo DiCaprio and 12 Years a Slave performer Lupita Nyong'o-- striking in a green Dior gown -- walked the red carpet outside London's Royal Opera House.

Best-actress nominee Amy Adams wore a black dress by Victoria Beckham, and revealed the inspirations for her American Hustle character's faux-British accent: "Marianne Faithfull and Julie Christie."

There was royalty of the Hollywood kind -- Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, wearing matching tuxedos. And there was British royalty, too, in the form of Prince William, honorary president of the film academy.

The documentary prize went to Joshua Oppenheimer's The Act of Killing, a powerful look at hundreds of thousands of killings carried out in 1960s Indonesia in the name of fighting communism.

Will Poulter (Son of Rambow, We're the Millers), a 21-year-old actor, won the rising star award, decided by public vote.

Director Peter Greenaway received an award for outstanding contribution to British cinema for a body of unsettling, comic and erotic films that includes The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover and The Draughtsman's Contract.

Greenaway said he hoped the trophy would encourage those, like him, "who believe that cinema has to be continually reinvented."

Helen Mirren received the British Academy Fellowship in recognition of a career that has ranged from a hard-nosed detective in TV series Prime Suspect to Queen Elizabeth II in "The Queen."

Mirren, 68, said she was "almost speechless" at receiving the honor, whose previous recipients include Charlie Chaplin, Alfred Hitchcock, Elizabeth Taylor and Judi Dench.

"It's been an amazing journey up to now," she said.

She was given the trophy by Prince William -- who said he should probably call her "granny." Mirren won an Oscar for playing his grandmother, Britain's monarch, in "The Queen."


Sunny Leone : Ragini MMS 2

Actress Sunny Leone, says the movie "Ragini MMS 2" is more commercial in nature than the first film of the series.

"This one is a lot more commercial, there is a lot more back story. There is a lot more going on in this one that explains everything about Ragini MMS," added the 33-year-old.

"The first part looks real, it's like someone grabbed a handycam and it's a real couple and the boyfriend has a different reason for bringing his girlfriend there."

"There is a huge difference (between Ragini MMS and Ragini MMS 2)," Sunny said at the launch of the song Babydoll.

Director Bhushan Patel agreed and said that Ragini MMS 2 is bolder and scarier. Also, the songs make it different.

"It's bigger, better and bolder. It's a lot more scarier. There is a lot more sex and scares. There is a lot of glamour with the songs. We have a song by Honey Singh, 'Babydoll' song with Meet Brothers and we have a romantic one also," Patel said here.

Ragini MMS 2, which hits theatres on March 21, also stars Divya Dutta, Parvin Dabas and Sandhya Mridul.