LOS ANGELES (February 29, 2016) — “Spotlight” won just two awards at Sunday night’s 88th Academy Awards, but one of them was the night’s top prize: best picture.
The film, about journalists investigating a sex abuse scandal involving Catholic priests, also won original screenplay.
Leonardo DiCaprio finally won an Oscar.
After four nominations without a win, the fifth time was the charm, thanks to his performance as a vengeful frontiersman in “The Revenant.”
“The Revenant’s” director, Alejandro González Iñárritu, won best director for the second year in a row. He’s the first person to pull off that feat since Joseph L. Mankiewicz in 1949-50. John Ford also won consecutive Oscars.
“Revenant’s” Emmanuel Lubezki also kept a streak going, winning his third straight Oscar for cinematography.
Brie Larson won best actress for her performance in “Room.”
In a surprise, Mark Rylance won best supporting actor for his performance as a Soviet agent in “Bridge of Spies.”
The category included Sylvester Stallone, who was widely believed to be the front-runner for his performance as Rocky Balboa in “Creed” — 39 years after he first played the role in “Rocky.”
Rylance devoted a healthy chunk of his speech to praising director Steven Spielberg.
“I’ve always just adored stories … so for me to work with one of the greatest storytellers of our time, Steven Spielberg, has just been such an honor,” he said.
Alicia Vikander won best supporting actress for her performance in “The Danish Girl.”
Vikander played an artist married to a man (Eddie Redmayne) who begins more closely identifying with being a woman.
“Mad Max: Fury Road” dominated technical categories, winning six Oscars in the show’s first 90 minutes: costume design, production design, makeup, film editing, sound editing and sound mixing.
In a shocker, Sam Smith’s “Writing on the Wall,” from the James Bond film “Spectre,” won best song. Smith co-wrote the song with James Napier.
Ennio Morricone, the legendary composer of such film scores as “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” and “The Untouchables,” finally won an Oscar — his first in six nominations. It was for Quentin Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight.”
The first awards of the evening went to “Spotlight” for original screenplay and “The Big Short” for adapted screenplay.
Rock comes out hard
The show got off to a brisk start thanks to host Chris Rock’s no-holds-barred monologue.
Rock wasted no time in taking on #OscarsSoWhite and diversity issues that had been in the news since the nominations were announced in mid-January.
After the obligatory montage of the year’s movies, Rock came out and said he’d counted at least 15 black people in the video — and, just like that, he was off.
“If they nominated hosts, I wouldn’t even get this job,” he said. “You’d be watching Neil Patrick Harris right now.”
Noting the lack of black nominees through most of Oscar history, he pointed out that in the ’60s, “Black people did not protest because we had real things to protest at the time. We were too busy being raped and lynched to worry about best cinematography.”
And “In Memoriam,” the yearly film of people who had passed away in the previous year, would get an addition, Rock said.
“In the In Memoriam package, it’s just going to be black people shot by the cops on the way to the movies.”
The routine was followed with a video bit in which black actors took roles in films that had been nominated for Oscars, including Whoopi Goldberg in “Joy” and Rock in “The Martian,” as well as a bizarre appearance by actress Stacey Dash, who had called for the elimination of Black History Month.
Lou Gossett Jr., an Oscar winner for “An Officer and a Gentleman,” said on the red carpet that often Hollywood is ahead of society, but in the case of diversity, “society is ahead of us.”
Common, who won an Oscar last year for his song “Glory,” said the film community is aware there’s a problem, but now it’s time “to work toward a solution.”
“I know we’re going to make this change,” he said on the red carpet.
Some celebrities were attending an event in Flint, Michigan, #JusticeForFlint. The concert was organized by directors Ava DuVernay (“Selma”) and Ryan Coogler (“Creed”) and is calling attention to the water crisis in the Michigan city.
Rock also had some more lighthearted material, including a bit in which he brought out his daughter to sell Girl Scout cookies.
The show had some other notable moments.
Lady Gaga received a standing ovation for her performance of ” ‘Til It Happens to You,” from “The Hunting Ground.”
Rock went back to the Magic Johnson Theaters to ask African-American moviegoers about the year’s nominated films. Almost none of the patrons had seen them.
But the awards were the dominant story.
The 88th Academy Awards are airing from Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre.