The race for best picture at the 88th Academy Awards was said to be the closest for years and so it proved. Alejandro González Iñárritu won best director for frontier revenge drama The Revenant, and best film went the way of Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight.
There were gasps in the press room when Morgan Freeman announced that McCarthy’s searing drama on the Boston Globe’s investigations into clerical sexual abuse had crept past The Revenant.
Spotlight had won just one award already – the first time since 1952 that a best picture winner took just two Oscars.
“This film gave a voice to survivors, and this Oscar amplifies that voice, which we hope will become will become a choir that will resonate all the way to the Vatican,” said Michael Sugar, producer of Spotlight.
Broadcaster Piers Morgan pointed out the victory for journalism, saying: “Journalism, so often maligned, finally gets the credit it deserves. Congrats to those heroic Boston Globe staff.”
Leonardo DiCaprio, nominated for acting prizes four times previously, finally won the Oscar for his leading performance in The Revenant.
DiCaprio received a standing ovation as he picked up his award. He thanked his director and co-star Tom Hardy for his “fierce talent on screen” and “friendship off screen.” He then took the opportunity to make a call for action on global warming.
“Our production needed to move to the southern tip of this planet just to be able to find snow,” he said.
“Climate change is real. It is happening right now. It is the most urgent threat facing our entire species, and we need to work collectively together.”
Mad Max: Fury Road took home six awards over the course of the night, far surpassing any other film. George Miller’s post-apocalyptic action film nearly swept all the below-the-line categories, including Best Costume Design, Production Design, Makeup & Hairstyling, Film Editing, and both Sound Mixing and Editing.
Chris Rock hosted the prestigious event, challenging the lack of diversity among this year’s nominees throughout the three-and-a-half-hour broadcast.
The comedian dedicated the majority of his 10-minute monologue to to the subject, calling the gala the ‘White People’s Choice Awards’ and speculating that for much of the Academy Awards’ 88-year history African-Americans didn’t protest because “we had real things to protest at the time.”
Other winners included Brie Larson, an unbackable odds-on favourite, took best actress for Lenny Abrahamson’s Room. None of the other Irish nominees for Room or John Crowley’s Brooklyn were favourites, but Dubliner Ben Cleary won best live action short for the excellent Stutterer.
Mark Rylance won the best supporting actor Oscar for his performance in Bridge Of Spies. In Steven Spielberg’s cold war thriller, he played a Soviet spy involved in a dangerous exchange.
Alicia Vikander won the best supporting actress Oscar for her role in Tom Hooper’s transgender drama The Danish Girl. The 27-year-old star beat favourite Kate Winslet for the award. The film focuses on the first ever recipient of gender reassignment surgery and the effect this has on his marriage.
Inside Out took home the Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film. This was Pixar’s eighth animated Oscar in recent years.The movie is set in the mind of an 11-year-old girl where five emotions — Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black) and Disgust (Mindy Kaling) lead her through life.
Ex Machina, an independent film with a small cast won the Oscar for best visual effects, beating big budget blockbuster Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Sam Smith won the Oscar for Best Original Song for his Bond theme “Writing’s On The Wall”, beating Lady Gaga’s song “Til It Happens to You”, from The Hunting Ground, a documentary on campus rape.
Smith said: “I read an article a few months ago by Sir Ian McKellan and he said that no openly gay man had ever won an Oscar.If this is the case, even if it isn’t the case I want to dedicate this to the LGBT community all around the world.”