It was an award season plagued by the question of who would walk away with Best Picture, and when the announcement finally came, drama was still at an all-time high. Despite a night filled with wins for "Gravity," "12 Years a Slave" pulled out a win in the top category, bringing one of the tensest Oscar races to an end.
The big night for "12 Years a Slave" began earlier in the evening when newcomer and new Hollywood darling Lupita Nyong'o took home the award for Best Supporting Actress.
Starting late last year, the competition for the top prize was considered a three-horse race among "American Hustle," "Gravity" and "12 Years a Slave." Early guild wins for David O. Russell's latest ensemble drama put "American Hustle" in the lead, but as the season continued, "Gravity" and "12 Years a Slave" became the heavy favorites.
Wins for "Gravity" across the board in the technical awards were early indications that the space epic was heading toward a big night at the Academy Awards. That was only reinforced when Alfonso Cuarón took home his second Oscar of the night for Best Director.
That all changed, however, when Will Smith took to the stage to announce the top prize of the evening. Producer Brad Pitt was the first to speak once the group presenting "12 Years a Slave" took the stage. He was followed shortly after by director Steve McQueen who dedicated the win to everyone held captive in the past and present.
The rest of the night may have been light on surprises, but the Best Picture win for "12 Years a Slave" was a welcome win for a deserving film.