Historical drama "12 Years a Slave" has taken the prestigious best picture Oscar at the 86th Academy Awards in Los Angeles. Matthew McConaughey and Cate Blanchett led the individual award winners.
The Steve McQueen-directed "12 Years a Slave" edged out a quality field featuring "American Hustle," "Dallas Buyers Club," "The Wolf of Wall Street," and "Gravity." The film's win was greeted with an emotional speech from McQueen, who was introduced by the movie's fellow producer, Brad Pitt.
"Everyone deserves not just to survive, but to live ... This is the most important legacy of Solomon Northup," McQueen said, referring to the drama's central character and the man who wrote the memoir on which the film was based.
McConaughey won best actor for "Dallas Buyers Club," while Blanchett won the best actress Oscar for her role in "Blue Jasmine."
Jared Leto walked away with the best supporting actor award for his role as an HIV-positive transgender prostitute in "Dallas Buyers Club."
The Academy Award for best supporting actress went to Lupita Nyong'o for her harrowing performance as a hardworking slave in "12 Years a Slave."
Alfonso Cuaron won the best director Oscar for "Gravity" - the space thriller which also won a number of technical awards.
The best animated feature Oscar went to Disney musical "Frozen." It is the first time the studio has won the category since its creation for the 2002 Academy Awards.
It had been up against "The Croods," "Despicable Me," "Ernest & Celestine" and "The Wind Rises."
Italian drama "The Great Beauty" took home the prize for best foreign language film. Directed by Paolo Sorrentino and starring Toni Servillo, it examines the life of an ageing socialite in Rome.
The Oscar for best documentary feature went to "20 Feet From Stardom," which focuses on the lives of backup singers whose voices are recognizable, whose names are unknown.
The biggest loser of the night went to crime caper "American Hustle," which failed to win a single statue despite 10 nominations.
A damp start to the show
The 86th Academy Awards, held at Hollywood's Dolby Theater, was hosted by US comedian and talk show host, Ellen DeGeneres.
She opened the evening's festivities with a speech poking fun at the storms which hit California on the eve of the event.
"It's been a tough couple of days for us here. It has been raining," she said. "We're fine. Thank you for your prayers."
Hollywood's finest were forced to squelch across a wet red carpet for one of the most fiercely-contested Oscar shows in decades.
ccp,ph/jm (AFP, AP, Reuters)