March 2 (Bloomberg) -- Jared Leto and Lupita Nyong’o won Academy Awards for best supporting actor and actress as Hollywood began handing out its highest honors.
Leto plays a cross-dressing AIDS patient in “Dallas Buyers Club,” while Nyong’o plays an abused field hand on a Louisiana plantation in pre-Civil War drama “12 Years a Slave.” They received their awards in a live telecast of the 86th Academy Awards from the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.
Leto dedicated his award in part to “the 36 million people who have lost the battle to AIDS” and expressed concern over social unrest in other countries. “To all the dreamers around the world watching this in places like the Ukraine and Venezuela, I want to say we are here and as you struggle to make your dreams happen, to live the impossible, we’re thinking of you tonight,” Leto said.
The Oscars ceremony, honoring the best work in motion pictures for 2013, is being hosted by Ellen DeGeneres and broadcast on the ABC network. A number of low-budget, edgier dramas, including “12 Years a Slave,” are vying for the best picture Oscar. Many were financed outside the Hollywood studio system.
“The studios have really put their emphasis on big budget tent-pole movies,” Joe Pichirallo, chairman of undergraduate film and television at New York University. “That makes them less willing to go for character-driven, controversial movies like a ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ that deals with AIDS.”
Based on a screenplay started in 1992 and optioned at one point by Universal Pictures, “Dallas Buyers Club” was stuck in development for years until 2012. Texas chemical trader Joe Newcomb helped finance the $5.6 million picture weeks before shooting began.
“It seems like there are a lot of independent financiers that are willing to kind of put their money where their mouth is and take a chance on telling great stories and I think this year will probably help further that,” Robbie Brenner, one of the producers of “Dallas Buyers Club,” also a best-picture nominee, said in an interview.
Robin Mathews, who shared an Oscar for make-up and hairstyling with Adruitha Lee for “Dallas Buyers Club,” said her budget for the film was $250.
As of today, the nine best-picture nominees collectively have grossed $1.8 billion in worldwide ticket sales, according to Box Office Mojo, down from $2.1 billion for last year’s nine nominees at the time of the ceremony.
Walt Disney Co.’s “Frozen” won for best animated feature film, underscoring the resurgence of the company’s flagship animation studio, which is often overshadowed by its Pixar sibling. The picture has taken in more than $1 billion in worldwide box office sales, according to researcher Box Office Mojo.
DeGeneres joked that she was going to be putting out messages on Twitter.com during the show and took a photo with Bradley Cooper, Meryl Streep and other celebrities to send out over social media.
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