TIME Oscars

Oscars 2014: 12 Years a Slave Wins The Night

Director Steve McQueen (C) accepts the Best Picture award for '12 Years a Slave' onstage during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on March 2, 2014 in Hollywood, California.
Director Steve McQueen (C) accepts the Best Picture award for '12 Years a Slave' onstage during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on March 2, 2014 in Hollywood, California. Kevin Winter—Getty Images

Director Steve McQueen's pre-Civil War era film about a free black man abducted in New York and sold into slavery in the south took home the Academy Awards' top honors, besting a category full of critically-acclaimed films

It didn’t come as a surprise when 12 Years a Slave took home Best Picture at the 86th Academy Awards — it was the favored pick for the biggest award of the night — but it was still a delight to see the cast and crew pile up on stage to accept the award.

Producer and co-star Brad Pitt took the mic first: “I know I speak for everyone standing behind me that it’s been an absolute privilege to work on Solomon [Northrup]‘s story,” he said. “And we all get to stand up here tonight because of one man who brought us all together to tell that story, and that is the indomitable Mr. Steve McQueen.”

McQueen took over, first returning the gratitude to Pitt — “Without him, this film would not have been made,” he said — then going on to thank his industry cohorts, most of whom were female. “I have all women in my life,” he said. “They’re all the most powerful.”

If he seemed flustered, he recovered nicely in his final moments on stage — after a heartfelt message to everyone who has endured or continues to endure slavery, he turned around and quite literally jumped for joy. His jubilance was well-earned.

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