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Tag: 2014 Oscar winners (1-3 of 3)

'12 Years a Slave' screenwriter John Ridley talks supposed beef with Steve McQueen

Since his Oscar win for Best Adapted Screenplay for 12 Years a Slave, John Ridley has been busy enough to tune out superfluous drama. He’s been in Austin since shooting the pilot American Crime for ABC, and promoting the U.S. premiere of the Hendrix biopic Jimi: All Is By My Side at SXSW. But he knows that failing to thank 12 Years director Steve McQueen in his acceptance speech, and the seemingly chilly body language between the two of them on the big night, sparked countless stories of behind-the-scenes beef.

“I do regret it,” says Ridley of his omission. “But just 24 hours earlier at the Spirit Awards I sincerely went on and on about Steve and my work with him. You know, the guy changed my life. At the Oscars you have 30 seconds to talk and it’s like the oxygen drops out of the room. I know [when I heard my name called] I hugged my wife twice, I know David O. Russell, again this person people think I have beef with, was the first guy to hug me, I know Meryl Streep reached out and touched my arm.”

Ridley’s real regret of the night is a more personal one. He took great pains in his brief and eloquent minute on stage to thank a script coordinator named Gayle for her early support of his work (“she was gracious enough to read everything I wrote and when she thought it was ready she’d put smiley faces at the end and I knew that it was job done,” he said). “That was my wife you know,” he says today. (Ridley and his wife Gayle met over 20 years ago working on the set of Martin Lawrence’s sitcom Martin.) “I don’t think most people got that. Wow, I screwed up. Well, I know she got it. I didn’t want to be the guy when you’re getting played off by the music ‘Oh and my wife and I love her.’ I wanted to start there and thank someone who believed in me from the beginning. I wanted the bulk of that 30 seconds to go to my wife and whatever I had remaining was going to Solomon Northup who deserves it.”

Explaining the impulse to trump up tension between himself and McQueen, Ridley blames media’s dependence on easy narratives. “I will say about 12 Years , from the jump, man, from the moment somebody said ‘Stop the year, this is the Best Picture’ the story became ‘It’s torture porn. Why are Brits doing this? This movie is only geared at liberal whites.’ In the end, I said to somebody else ‘At the very least we weren’t Zero Dark Thirty. Nobody set up a congressional investigation. This year it’s who hugged and kissed who and who didn’t.”

'12 Years a Slave' wins Best Picture at the 2014 Oscars

Although Gravity dominated the 2014 Oscars, soaking up awards in the technical categories, it could not take home the top prize. As anticipated by many Oscar prognosticators, there was a somewhat rare Best Director/Best Picture split: Alfonso Cuaron took home Best Director, but it was 12 Years a Slave that won Best Picture. (The true-life slavery epic also won Best Supporting Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay.)

Producer Brad Pitt gave a few brief remarks but quickly gave way to 12 Years director Steve McQueen, who closed his speech on a powerful note. “This is the most important legacy of Solomon Northup,” he said. “I dedicate this award to all the people who have endured slavery, and the 21 million people who still suffer slavery today.” He then turned around and, literally, jumped for joy.

Oscars 2014: And the winners are ...

12 Years a Slave won the big prize of the night, but Gravity took home the most awards overall with seven.

Slave, the historical drama based on the true story of Solomon Northup, took home Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress (for Lupita Nyong’o), and Best Adapted Screenplay (for John Ridley).

Meanwhile, Gravity earned honors for Alfonso Cuaron (Best Director), Best Original Score, Best Film Editing, Best Cinematography, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Visual Effects.

Including Nyong’o, the acting awards went as predicted, with Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine), Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club), and Jared Leo (Dallas Buyers Club) won for Best Actress, Best Actor, and Best Supporting Actor, respectively.

Complete winners list below: READ FULL STORY

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