Twenty-two years, six nominations, one raw bison liver, and a graphic bear attack later, Leonardo Dicaprio finally walked onstage at the 88th Academy Awards last night to pick up his Oscar for Best Actor. Just two weeks earlier, DiCaprio picked up a BAFTA for his performance in The Revenant, an award widely seen as indicative of his Oscar chances this year. The movie’s director, Alejandro González Iñárritu also repeated his BAFTA success by walking away with Best Director. However, The Revenant failed to nab Best Picture, with the biographical drama Spotlight, starring Mark Ruffalo and Rachel McAdams winning.
But more than who won this year, this year’s Oscars was a platform for all those in the industry to advocate for causes close to their hearts, from racism, climate change to sexual abuse.
Chris Rock, who hosted the awards, opened the night by addressing the ‘#OscarsSoWhite’ controversy or the lack of minority representation in this year’s nominations, tackling the issue by commenting on not just the lack of minority nominees but also the lack of opportunity for non-white actors. Concluding his monologue, he said “We want opportunity – give black actors the same opportunities as white actors. That’s it. Leo [DiCaprio] gets a great part every year. What about Jamie Foxx?”
DiCaprio rounded off his acceptance speech by campaigning for action on climate change, linking the making of The Revenant to “man’s relationship to the natural world”. His director and winner of Best Director, Iñárritu accepted his award saying, “[W]hat a great opportunity to our generation to really liberate ourselves from all prejudice and, you know, this tribal thinking, and make sure or once and forever that the colour of the skin become as irrelevant as the length of our hair”, referencing this year’s lack of diversity in the Oscar nominations. Iñárritu also made Oscar history by becoming the first director to win the award back to back, winning last year for Birdman.
Producer of this year’s Best Picture, Michael Sugar announced his hope that his Oscar win “will become a choir that will resonate all the way to the Vatican”, and reminded the Pope to address and restore confidence in the Catholic Church after the sexual abuse scandals. His film Spotlight recounted The Boston Globe newspaper’s ‘spotlight’ team as they investigated cases of child sex abuse by priests in the Boston area. Another winner, Sam Smith, for Best Original Song ‘Writing’s on the Wall’ in the Bond film Spectre, dedicating his win to the worldwide LGBT community. Although eventually losing to Sam Smith, Lady Gaga came on stage to perform her nominated song ‘Till it Happens to You’ which was written to highlight the pain of sexual assault and produced for the documentary film The Hunting Ground. Her performance was introduced by Vice-President Joe Biden and she was joined onstage by sexual assault survivors, and the performance moved many to tears.
Other winners of the night include Brie Larson for Best Actress for her performance in Room. British actor Mark Rylance and Swedish actress Alicia Vikander won Best Supporting Actor and Actress for their roles in Bridge of Spies and The Danish Girl respectively. In addition to their surprise Best Picture win, Spotlight also won the Best Original Screenplay while the biographical comedy/drama The Big Short won Best Adapted Screenplay. Disney hit animated comedy Inside Out won Best Animation. The biggest winner of the night was the film Mad Max: Fury Road, walking away with six Oscars in the technical categories.