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'12 Years a Slave' named best film at UK awards

Sunday - 2/16/2014, 9:00pm  ET

LONDON (AP) -- The force of "Gravity" was strong at the British Academy Film Awards on Sunday -- but it's the drama "12 Years a Slave" that's taken the top prize.

Steve McQueen's visceral, violent story of a free black man kidnapped into servitude in the 19th-century American South was named best picture. Its star, Chiwetel Ejiofor (CHOO'-ih-tel EHJ'-ee-oh-fohr), took the male acting trophy.

The prizes, coming two weeks before Hollywood's Academy Awards, are watched as an indicator of likely Oscars success.

It was a good night for lost-in-space thriller "Gravity," which won six prizes, including best director for Alfonso Cuaron (kwahr-OHN').

Con-artist caper "American Hustle" charmed its way to three prizes, including original screenplay and supporting actress for Jennifer Lawrence.

The best-actress prize went to Cate Blanchett for her turn as a socialite on the slide in "Blue Jasmine."

The supporting actor prize went to Barkhad Abdi, who made an explosive screen debut as a Somali pirate in "Captain Phillips."

In the past few years, the British prizes, known as BAFTAs, have helped underdog films, including "Slumdog Millionaire," ''The King's Speech" and "The Artist," gain Oscars momentum.


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