Director-producer Steve McQueen, 44, was lauded for his unflinching portrayal of America's dark past, a subject often ignored in Hollywood movies. Read More: Oscar 2014: Complete list of winners Hoffman, Paul Walter, Joan Fontaine, Tom Sherak, Karen Black and Shirly Temple among others. JPN/Agencies
"Everyone deserves not just to survive, but to live. This is the most important legacy of Solomon Northup. I dedicate this award to all the people who have endured slavery. And the 21 million people who still suffer slavery today," said McQueen, who lost the best director Oscar to Alfonso Cuaron.
Film's co-producer Brad Pitt too reminded the audience about Northup's life that tells the story of a free man forced into slavery in the 19th century America. "It has been an absolute privilege to work on Solomon Northup's story," Pitt, 50, said.
The film's actress Lupita Nyong'o won in the best supporting actress category while John Ridley won for the best adapted screenplay.
In a year where the 6,000 Oscar voters spread their love to different films, "Gravity" came away with the maximum haul of seven trophies, thanks to its technical brilliance. Besides the best director Oscar, the Mexican helmer shared another trophy for editing his Sandra Bullock starrer outer space drama. "Gravity" also won trophies for sound editing, sound mixing, visual effects, cinematography and original score.
"Sandy, you are 'Gravity'. You are the soul, heart of the film, the most amazing collaborator and one of the best people I've ever met. George Clooney, for your absolute trust," Cuaron, 52, said.
Best actress Oscar went to Cate Blanchett for her role of a broke but snobbish high-society woman in Woody Allen's "Blue Jasmine".
"Blanchett, who received a standing ovation, joked, "Sit down. You're too old to be standing."
"I'm here excepting an award in an extraordinary screenplay by Woody Allen. Thank you so much, Woody, for casting me. I truly appreciate it," Blanchett said while praising the work by her fellow nominees.
True-story of AIDS activist Ron Woodroof brought actor Matthew McConaughey his career's first Oscar in the best actor category.
There was mystery surrounding Blanchett's speech as many thought she may not mention Allen's name due to sexual assault allegations that he is facing from his adopted daughter Dylan Farrow.
McConaughey, who lost almost 20 kgs for "Dallas Buyers Club" thanked God, his parents and family.
"There's a few things, about three things to my account that I need each day. One of them is something to look up to, another is something to look forward to, and another is someone to chase," the actor said after his first Oscar win.
His co-star Jared Leto was the first winner of the night by taking home the Oscar in the best supporting actor category for his touching portrayal of an AIDS suffering transgender.
The actor-musician, 42, gave a shout out to the people in Ukraine and anti-government protesters in Venezuela.
"To all the dreamers out there... in places like 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.
Kenyan actress Nyong'o, who was a favourite to win, was emotional as she lifted the best supporting Oscar for her debut in "12 Years A Slave".
"It does not escape me for one moment that so much joy in my life is thanks to so much pain in someone else's. I want to salute the spirit of Patsey, for her guidance and for Solomon... Thank you for telling her story and your own."
Spike Jonze won the original screenplay Oscar for his futuristic romance "Her" which describes a love affair between a man and the voice of his computer operating system.
The song-filled ceremony was hosted by Ellen DeGeneres, who brought laughs with her quick repartees but without offending the A-list crowd. The biggest snubs of the night were reserved for the other most nominated film "American Hustle" which returned empty handed despite its 10 nominations.
Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio's fifth collaboration "The Wolf of Wall Street" too failed to win any Oscar despite both the actor and director being nominated.
Another earlier front-runner to return without Oscar gold was Tom Hanks starrer "Captain Phillips".
The best foreign film Oscar predictably went to Paolo Sorrentino directed "The Great Beauty" which brought Italy its record 11th Oscar in the category.
Disney's 3D animation film "Frozen" won the best original song for 'Let It Go' and the best animated feature film. The Academy awards, held at Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center, paid tribute to departed stars Harold Ramis, James Gandolfini, Elmore Leonard, Philip Seymore
Nelson Madela, Philip Seymour Hoffman remembered
Bono and U2 gave an emotional performance during the 86th Academy awards where they sang the original song, 'Ordinary Love' from the Weinstein company biopic, "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" remembering former South African President Nelson Mandela.
During the performance, a slideshow of pictures of the late Mandela appeared in the background honoring the band's personal friend, who died last year following a lengthy illness.
The Irish rock band performed the Oscar nominee song live for the first time. This was the band's second Oscar nomination since 2003 for 'The Hands That Built America' from the 2002 film "Gangs of New York" and their latest song in three years.
Singer Pink also showcased her powerhouse vocals while taking the audience down the memory lane with 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow' from 'The Wizard of Oz' at the 86th Academy Awards.
As part of the 75th Anniversary tribute to Judy Garland's iconic film, the 34-year-old singer took the stage in a shimmery red gown to belt the famous ballad from the 1939 film.
Garland's children, Liza Minnelli, Joey Luft and Lorna Luft, were also present to enjoy the show and honor their mother.
Former Oscar Whoopy Goldberg too mentioned the film, raising her dress to reveal her ruby slipper.
Scenes from the famous 1939 film flashed onscreen behind Pink as she sang. Images of Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion, along with more familiar faces from the Land of Oz were included in the performance.
During In Memoriam section, stars such as Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Walker, James Gandolfini, Peter O'Toole, film critic Roger Ebert, child actress Shirley Temple Black and "Harry Potter" actor Richard Griffiths were also remembered.
Hoffman passed away last month due to drug overdose at the age of 46. His notable works included "Capote", "Charlie Wilson's War", "Doubt" and "The Master". Walker, who is popular for his role in "Fast and Furious" movies, died in a fiery car crash in December, while Gandolfini who took part in "The Sopranos" passed away in Italy after having a heart attack.
Black, white and light shades dominate wet Oscar red carpet
Dazzling black, white and light shaded gowns dominated the Oscar 2014 red carpet with Hollywood beauties turning up in their best despite rain threatening to play spoilsport with their designer outfits.
Best supporting actress nominee Lupita Nyong'o, 31, who has become fashion's 'it' girl with her eclectic and bold choices on the red carpet, did not disappoint at the Oscars.
The '12 Years A Slave' star, best supporting actress winner, showed up for the Oscars in a ice blue pleated gown from Prada which she teamed up with a dressy headband.
Jennifer Lawrence, last year's best actress winner, looked stunning in a red strapless Christian Dior gown and the goofy actress managed to trip again but this time on the red carpet, reminding everyone of her slip at the awards last year.
Best actress winner Cate Blanchett, 44, opted for a regal look in a nude shimmery Armani gown while her 'Blue Jasmine' co-star Sally Hawkins, a nominee in the best supporting actress category, arrived in an intricately beaded Valentino gown.
The other best actress nominee Amy Adams, 39, wore an off-shoulder dark blue Gucci gown while Sandra Bullock, 49, was dressed in strapless Alexander McQueen blue gown.
Portia de Rossi, on hand to support partner - Oscar host Ellen DeGeneres, wore an ivory Naeem Khan gown. Pregnant actresses Kerry Washington wore a cleavage baring Jason Wu gown while Olivia Wilde accessorised her baby bump in an elegant black Valentino dress.
Viola Davis wore a bright green Vera Wang. Angelina Jolie ditched her love for black by opting for a shimmery Elie Saab Couture gown. Kate Hudson flaunted a curvaceous body in her plunging neckline Versace dress.
Naomi Watts kept it simple in a white Calvin Klein glitzy gown with a spider's web Bulgari necklace. Anne Hathaway opted for a black studded Gucci gown. Charlize Theron wore a sort of body-hugging sweeping black dress, which she paired with minimal make-up.
Julia Roberts sported a black lacy Givenchy gown, with a tuxedo inspired neckline. Rapper Pharrell Williams took everyone by surprise by showing up on the red carpet in a pair of knee-length short with an unconventional tuxedo. Pharrell also performed the Oscar-nominated song 'Happy' at the ceremony.
The actors mostly stuck to tuxedo and suits for the mega Hollywood event.
Director-producer Steve McQueen, 44, was lauded for his unflinching portrayal of America's dark past, a subject often ignored in Hollywood movies.
Read More: Oscar 2014: Complete list of winners
Hoffman, Paul Walter, Joan Fontaine, Tom Sherak, Karen Black and Shirly Temple among others.