Chiwetel Ejiofor as ?Solomon Northup? in a scene from the motion picture "12 Years a Slave." CREDIT: Jaap Buitendijk, Fox Searchlight Pictures
(USA TODAY) - The period drama 12 Years a Slave won the Oscar for best picture, and Cate Blanchett and Matthew McConaughey took home the top acting awards at the 86th annual Academy Awards.
"Sit down, you're too old to be standing!" said Blanchett when taking the stage to accept her best actress award for Blue Jasmine. "As random and subjective as this world is, this means a lot in a year full of extraordinary performances by women."
And with his Oscar win for best director, Gravity filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón was on cloud nine.
Gravity went into the night tied with a leading 10 nominations with American Hustle - which was ultimately shut out - and the white-knuckle space thriller won seven, including original score, cinematography, film editing, sound mixing, sound editing and visual effects.
"It was definitely a transformative experience," Cuarón said of making Gravity. "What really sucks is for a lot of people the transformation was wisdom. For me, it was the color of my hair."
Visual-effects supervisor Tim Webber noted director Cuarón's "audacity and courage" in letting the FX crew work its magic and thanked stars George Clooney and Sandra Bullock for "filling our visual effects with life and emotion."
Gravity composer Steven Price shared his win with Cuarón. He said. "You inspired every frame of this and every note I composed."
Hollywood newcomer Lupita Nyong'o finished off her Cinderella story with an emotional flourish. Jared Leto also had a great finish to a rich awards season, whileFrozen put all its animated competitors on ice and Gravity proved to be a marvel with six Oscars.
Nyong'o captured the best-supporting-actress award at the 86th annual Academy Awards for her performance as an abused plantation worker in 12 Years a Slave.
"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," a teary Nyong'o said of her role as Patsey - in her first film, straight out of Yale's drama school. "This has been the joy of my life. I'm certain that the dead standing about you are watching and are grateful, and so am I.
"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."
LIST: All of the winners from the 2014 Academy Awards
PHOTOS: The 2014 Academy Awards red carpet
Leto was named best supporting actor for his portrayal of a transgender AIDS patient in Dallas Buyers Club, following up significant wins at the Golden Globes and SAG Awards.
The actor thanked his mother, a teenage high school dropout and single mom from Louisiana who taught her children "to be creative, work hard and be special." Leto also dedicated his Oscar "to those who have ever felt injustice for who you are or who you love."
Disney's blockbuster musical cartoon Frozen has been ruling the box office and was honored with the Academy Awards for best animated feature and best original song. The movie's Let It Go songwriter Robert Lopez added an Oscar to his career Emmy, Grammy, Tony wins, and his wife Kristen Anderson-Lopez paid tribute to their two children. "This song is inspired by our love for you and the hope that you never let fear or shame keep you from celebrating the unique people you are."
The Oscar for original screenplay went to Her director Spike Jonze, who thanked his filmmaking friends on the feature. "We made a movie about relationships and intimacy, and that's what we share together."
And John Ridley won adapted screenplay for 12 Years a Slave, based on the life ofSolomon Northup, a free black man who was sold into slavery. "All the praise goes to Solomon Northup," Ridley said in his acceptance speech. "Those are his words and his story."
Dallas Buyers Club also won the Oscar for best makeup and hairstyling - makeup artist Robin Mathews thanked Leto and co-star McConaughey for "letting us torture you and transform you" - and Catherine Martin won two Oscars, for costume design and production design, for The Great Gatsby, directed by Martin's husband, Baz Luhrmann.
The Italian movie The Great Beauty followed up its Golden Globe win with the Oscar for best foreign film. Director Paolo Sorrentino took time to thank Federico Fellini,Martin Scorsese and Argentine soccer star Diego Maradona.
Mr. Hublot garnered the Oscar for animated short, Helium won for live-action short,The Lady In Number 6 was awarded best documentary short subject and 20 Feet from Stardom, a movie about backup singers in the music industry, garnered best documentary. Darlene Love belted out a tune for the crowd, and director Morgan Neville dedicated the Oscar to producer Gil Friesen, who died two years ago: "Today I know he's celebrating with us."