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March 3, 2014

'12 Years a Slave' rises up at Academy Awards

(Continued)

Draped in Nairobi blue, Lupita Nyong'o — the Cinderella of the awards season — won best supporting actress for her indelible impression as the tortured slave Patsey. It's the feature film debut for the 31-year-old actress.

"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 Patsy for her guidance," said Nyong'o. She also thanked director Steve McQueen: "I'm certain that the dead are standing about you and they are watching and they are grateful, and so am I."

John Ridley won best adapted screenplay for "12 Years a Slave," shifting praise to Northup: "Those are his words. That is his life." Spike Jonze took best original screenplay for his futuristic romance "Her," the category Russell had the best chance of winning.

Though the ceremony lacked a big opening number, it had a steady musical beat to it. To a standing ovation, Bono and U2 played an acoustic version of "Ordinary Love," from "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom." Pharrell Williams had Streep and Leonardo DiCaprio dancing in the aisles with "Happy" from "Despicable Me 2."

Pink was cheered for her rendition of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," part of a 75th anniversary tribute to "The Wizard of Oz." And Bette Midler sang — what else? — "Wind Beneath My Wing" for the in memoriam segment — an especially heartfelt one, considering the deaths of Philip Seymour Hoffman, Harold Ramis, James Gandolfini and others.

Best documentary went to the crowd-pleasing backup singer ode "20 Feet From Stardom." One of its stars, Darlene Love, accepted the award singing the gospel tune "His Eye Is on the Sparrow": "I sing because I'm happy/ I sing because I'm free."

Disney's global hit "Frozen" won best animated film, marking — somewhat remarkably — the studio's first win in the 14 years of the best animated feature category. (Pixar, which Disney owns, has regularly dominated.) The film's hit single, "Let It Go," won best original song.

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