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Dallas Buyers Club, 12 Years a Slave and Frozen take early Oscars

The first Oscars of the 86th Academy Awards were bestowed on Sunday to heavy favourites, with Jared Leto named best supporting actor and Frozen best animated film, in a night expected to yield few surprises apart from the tight race for best picture.

Actor Jared Leto accepts the Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role award for Dallas Buyers Club. AFP
Actor Jared Leto accepts the Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role award for Dallas Buyers Club. AFP

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The first Oscars of the 86th Academy Awards were bestowed to heavy favourites, with Jared Leto named best supporting actor, Lupita Nyong’o as best supporting actress and Frozen best animated film, in a night expected to yield few surprises apart from the tight race for best picture.

Dressed in a tuxedo, returning host Ellen DeGeneres opened the live telecast taking friendly jabs at the star-studded audience and nominees, from Jennifer Lawrence for her tripping on the stage last year to Meryl Streep, nominated for the 18th time.

Leto, who returned to acting after a six-year break with his portrayal of the transgender woman Rayon in the AIDS drama Dallas Buyers Club, thanked his mother and paid tribute to all those who have perished from worldwide HIV epidemic.

“This is for the 36 million people out there who have lost the battle to AIDS,” Leto said in his acceptance speech.

Leto also brought international political unrest into the Dolby Theatre by voicing his support for protesters battling their governments in Ukraine and Venezuela.

Dallas Buyers Club also won the Oscar for makeup and hairstyling in representing the characters from the real-life story of AIDS activists in the 1980s.

The remake of the classic The Great Gatsby claimed the trophy for best costume design, a category that film was heavily favoured to win.

It was the first Oscar nomination for the 31-year-old Nyong’o, and she won it for her film debut. Not just a breakout movie star, the Mexican-born actress of Kenyan descent has also made a huge splash in the fashion world.

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 were expected to scatter golden Oscar statuettes widely among the many acclaimed movies in contention.

But two distinct films have dominated the race for the coveted best picture Oscar, the final award of the night: the slavery drama 12 Years a Slave from British director Steve McQueen was the presumed front-runner, while the space thriller Gravity from Mexico’s Alfonso Cuaron was seen as having a chance to win.

The Oscars was the culmination of an unusually long awards season, extended by the Winter Olympics, and for many of the nominees it spelled the end to months of campaigning and years of work on a film.

Bedecked in gowns, tuxedos and even shorts, the world’s top actors and actresses strode down the red carpet right after the sun broke through four days of heavy rain that threatened to put a damper on Hollywood’s biggest night.

One of the most notable names on the awards season fashion radar this year, best supporting actress nominee Lupita Nyong’o, wore a blue custom-made Prada.

“It’s a blue that reminds me of Nairobi, and I wanted to have a little bit of home,” said the Kenyan actress who plays the slave Patsey in 12 Years a Slave.

Her co-star, British best actor nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor, the film’s main protagonist, showed up in the classic tuxedo, while singer Pharrell Williams wore a Lanvin tux with shorts rather than trousers.

* Reuters and AP