Steve McQueen's epic slavery drama '12 Years a Slave' has won the Oscar for Best Picture at the 86th Academy Awards in Los Angeles. The movie, which was co-produced by Brad Pitt, beat off competition from Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity and David O'Russell's American Hustle to win the evening's top prize.

12 Years a SlaveBenedict Cumberbatch [R] and Chiwetel Ejiofor [L] in '12 Years A Slave'

Accepting the award, the movie's prducer Brad Pitt said: "Thank you for this incredible honor bestowed on our film tonight, I know I speak for everyone behind me (the cast & crew), it has been an absolute privilege to work on Solomon's story, and we all get to stand up here tonight because of one man who brought us all together...and that is the indomitable Steve McQueen."

The British director then addressed the audience, he thanked his "wonderful cast & crew, Plan B, Brad Pitt, who without him this film just wouldn't ave been made."

He then pulled out a piece of paper and read off a lengthy list of names who helped contribute to the project, breaking inbetween to apologise to the audience for taking his time. 

McQueen then concluded with, "everyone deserves, not just to survive but to live, this is the most important legacy of Solomon Northup. I dedicate this award ot all the people who have endured slavery and 21 million people who still suffer slavery today. Thank you very much." 

Late speculation that Cuaron's Gravity may have snatched Best Picture proved inaccurate and it was McQueen's critically acclaimed drama that proved victorious.

The movie, released in the U.S. last November, followed the true story of Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free man working as a skilled carpenter and fiddle player in New York. Northup is offered a two-week job as a musician but is drugged and sold into slavery, where he initially works for the relatively benevolent plantation owner William Prince Ford (Benedict Cumberbatch). However, when the racist carpenter John Tibeats (Paul Dano) begins to resent Northup for his intelligence and nous, Ford sells him to the evil Edwin Epps (Michael Fassbender), who believes he is biblically sanctioned to abuse his slaves.

'12 Years a Slave' was named as the best film of 2013 by various high profile critics and before winning the Oscar, it had landed Best Picture (Drama) at the Golden Globes and Best Picture at the BAFTA's. 

Check out the 12 Years a Slave trailer: