This year’s Oscars ceremony, hosted by Ellen DeGeneres, was watched by 43 million TV viewers in the US.
According to broadcaster ABC, it was the biggest audience for the Academy Awards in a decade.
The audience was 6.4% bigger than last year when the event was fronted by Seth McFarlane, according to ratings figures from Nielsen.
The most recent biggest TV audience was 43.6 million in 2004, when The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King cleaned up.
The most watched Oscars ceremony on television came in 1998, when the triumph of Titanic with 11 Academy awards was seen by 55.3 million viewers.
This year’s Oscars ceremony, hosted by Ellen DeGeneres, was watched by 43 million TV viewers in the US
Last year’s choice of irreverent host Seth McFarlane drew criticism from some quarters. Ellen DeGeneres – hosting the event for the second time – was seen as a safer pair of hands.
Ellen DeGeneres received mixed reviews for this year’s ceremony, but her tenure was seen as a step away from recent attempts to draw in younger audiences.
Despite this, data from ratings trackers Nielsen suggested that there was an increase of 1% in the 18 to 34-year-old audience bracket.
Regardless of the critics’ views, Ellen DeGeneres’ staged a “selfie” photograph with several of the stars in the audience which was a hit on social media, setting the record for the most re-tweets on Twitter – more than two million.
Ellen Degeneres declared she wanted to break the record for the most re-tweeted photograph in history, featuring herself surrounded by the front row talent – and best supporting actress winner Lupita Nyong’o’s brother.
She broke the record within the hour, and in doing so, broke Twitter’s servers too.
Twitter said that 14.7 million Oscar-related tweets were sent worldwide during the telecast.
12 Years a Slave has won best picture award at this year’s Oscars ceremony.
However, space drama Gravity won the lion’s share of awards the 86th Academy Awards.
Gravity‘s Alfonso Cuaron became the first Latino to win the best director award, adding to the film’s six Oscars for technical achievement.
Cate Blanchett was named best actress for her portrayal of the heroine in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine.
Matthew McConaughey won the best actor Oscar for Dallas Buyers Club.
It is the second consecutive year the best director and best picture prize have been awarded to different films.
Alfonso Cuaron praised the “transformative” power of film and singled out the film’s star Sandra Bullock as “the soul, the heart of Gravity”.
Gravity – which took five years to complete, and owes much to the technical prowess of British visual effects specialists – also won Oscars for film editing, sound mixing, sound editing, cinematography, visual effects and original score.
Steve McQueen, the British director of 12 Years a Slave, dedicated the best picture Oscar to “all those people who have endured slavery”.
Based on a true story, it follows the life of a free black man – Northup – who is kidnapped and sold into slavery in Louisiana.
Newcomer Lupita Nyong’o won the best supporting actress award for her film debut as slave worker Patsey.
The Kenyan actress paid tribute to her character and thanked her for her “guidance”.
The film won a third Oscar for John Ridley’s adapted screenplay.
Spike Jonze collected the best original screenplay for Her. His first film as sole writer and director stars Joaquin Phoenix as a man who falls in love with a computer operating system, voiced by Scarlett Johansson.
12 Years a Slave has won best picture award at this year’s Oscars ceremony
As predicted, Matthew McConaughey took the best actor prize for his role as real life rodeo cowboy Ron Woodroof, who smuggled HIV drugs into the US.
Matthew McConaughey, formerly a rom-com regular whose roles centred on his good looks, lost 50 lbs to play Ron Woodroof in the low budget indie drama.
Best actress winner Cate Blanchett paid tribute to her rivals, including Judi Dench – who was not at the ceremony – acknowledging “the random and subjective” nature of awards ceremonies.
Matthew McConaughey’s co-star Jared Leto won the first Oscar of the night, picking up best supporting actor for his role as transgender woman who becomes Ron Woodruff’s business partner and unlikely friend.
In an emotional speech Jared Leto thanked his mother, who accompanied him to the awards, “for teaching me to dream” and dedicated his award to “those who have ever felt injustice because of who they are, or who you love”.
Dallas Buyers Club also picked up a third award for make-up and hairstyling – with the transformation of Jared Leto and his co-star, Matthew McConaughey, rumored to have been achieved on a budget of $250.
Frozen, which recently tipped $1 billion at the global box office, scored two Oscars.
The 3D film about an icy princess and her sister was named best animated feature film, with its song, Let It Go – performed by star Idina Menzel – winning best original song. It is loosely based on The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen.
The Great Gatsby also picked up two Oscars, for costume design and production design. The awards were picked up by Baz Luhrmann’s partner Catherine Martin.
But there were no awards for David O. Russell’s American Hustle, which had 10 nominations, including nods in all the acting categories. Nor were there any awards for Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street.
The first British win of the night came for Tim Webber and his team from London-based company Framestore for their visual effects work on Gravity.
Tim Webber paid tribute to his team, Gravity actors George Clooney and Sandra Bullock and director Alfonso Cuaron “for having the vision to create this breath-taking film and the audacity to make it happen”.
The second British win of the night went to director Malcolm Clarke, who won an Oscar for his documentary short The Lady in Number Six: Music Saved My Life.
The film follows Alice Herz-Sommer, the oldest known survivor of the Nazi Holocaust and an accomplished pianist. Paying tribute to Alice Herz-Sommer, who died last week at the age of 110, he praised “her extraordinary capacity for joy and amazing capacity for forgiveness”.
Ellen DeGeneres hosted the ceremony, for the second time, at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.
Space drama Gravity is expected to scoop multiple awards at Sunday’s ceremony in Los Angeles.
The 3D film is likely to dominate the technical categories, with Alfonso Cuaron tipped for best director.
However, Oscar watchers have predicted Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave to win best picture.
The 86th Academy Awards, hosted by Ellen DeGeneres, take place tonight at Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre.
Outside the venue, a section of Hollywood Boulevard has been sealed off and the red carpet is covered over to protect it from an unusual spell of wet weather.
The final round of voting by the Academy’s 6,028 members ended on Tuesday.
Many of the nominees have been attending a flurry of pre-Oscar events and screenings in and around Los Angeles.
In what is considered to be the strongest field for many years there are nine contenders for best picture.
Gravity and David O. Russell’s crime caper American Hustle lead with 10 nominations each. 12 Years a Slave has nine.
According to Hollywood Reporter, while the preferential ballot system could boost the prospects of American Hustle and Gravity, 12 Years a Slave felt more “important” than 3D science-fiction.
12 Years a Slave‘s nine nominations include best director for Steve McQueen.
The historical drama, about a free black man in New York kidnapped and sold into slavery in Louisiana, is in a strong position, having already won a Golden Globe and a BAFTA.
Its stars Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender and Lupita Nyong’o have been nominated in the best actor, supporting actor and supporting actress categories.
American Hustle has nods in all four acting categories for its stars Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence.
David O. Russell pulled off the same feat with Silver Linings Playbook last year. Jennifr Lawrence went on to win best actress.
British film Philomena, based on the true story of an Irish woman trying to find the son she was forced to give up for adoption, is up for four awards, including best picture and best actress for Judi Dench.
Gravity eyes prizes as Oscars countdown begins
Captain Phillips, Nebraska, The Wolf of Wall Street, Dallas Buyers Club and Her are also among the nine best picture nominees.
There are several clear favorites in the major acting categories.
Cate Blanchett, who plays a fallen New York socialite in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine, has been the runaway favorite for best actress for months.
But she faces strong competition from Judi Dench, American Hustle‘s Amy Adams, Gravity‘s Sandra Bullock, and Meryl Streep – who has her 18th Oscar nomination – for August: Osage County.
Having both missed out on BAFTA nominations, Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto – from AIDS drama Dallas Buyers Club – are favorites for best actor and supporting actor respectively.
The tightest race seems to be for best supporting actress, where 12 Years A Slave‘s Lupita Nyong’o – making her movie debut – is up against Jennifer Lawrence who won a BAFTA for her American Hustle role.
Also in the running are Sally Hawkins for Blue Jasmine, Julia Roberts for August: Osage County and June Squibb for Nebraska.
“Usually a couple of the big awards are quite close but this year, there is just the one with best supporting actress looking set to go down to the wire,” said William Hill spokesman Joe Crilly.
In the best director category, David O. Russell faces competition from Steve McQueen, Alfonso Cuaron, Nebraska‘s Alexander Payne and Martin Scorsese for The Wolf of Wall Street.
Amid all the speculation, the ceremony does promise some certainties.
On the musical front, all four contenders for best original song will perform. U2 will play Ordinary Love, which they wrote for Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.
Pharrell Williams will sing Happy from Despicable Me 2, Idina Menzel will sing Let it Go from the animated film Frozen, and Karen O will perform The Moon Song, from the Spike Jonze film Her.
Pink and Bette Midler are also to perform.
This year’s ceremony will celebrate movie heroes and a special section will mark the 75th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz.
Ellen DeGeneres is back for a second stint as host. She hosted the 79th Academy Awards in 2007, watched by a TV audience of 39.9 million.
Before the ceremony, Ellen DeGeneres tweeted: “I think we can all agree; if Meryl Streep doesn’t win this year, her career is in real trouble.”