The 88th Academy Awards took place last night and amidst one of the most controversial ceremonies in the academy’s history, some winners were announced!
It was full on gongage last night as Spotlight, director/writer Tom McCarthy’s real-life drama about a team of Boston Globe journalists who expose a ring of paedophile priests, pulled a shock twist ending to nab best picture. The film, which stars Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton and Rachel McAdams, snatched best picture from rivals The Revenant and Mad Max: Fury Road in the final minutes of the show.
Up until that point, the film had only taken one award for best original screenplay for McCarthy and co-writer Josh Singer – with momentum building for survival epic, The Revenant, which had to make do with an impressive haul of awards for best director for Alejandro González Iñárritu, best cinematography for Emmanuel Lubezki, and – finally – best actor for Leonardo DiCaprio.
Accepting the best picture award for Spotlight, producer Michael Sugar said he hoped the film’s message – that institutional silence over child abuse was not to be tolerated – would “resonate all the way to the Vatican”.
He continued with a direct call to the pontiff. “Pope Francis: it’s time to protect the children and restore the faith”.
It wasn’t the only time the ceremony courted controversy: DiCaprio used his very first acceptance speech for best actor to plea with audiences to heed the warning of The Revenant and protect the natural environment.
“Climate change is real,” he said. “It is happening right now. It is the most urgent threat affecting our species. We need to work together and stop procrastinating…Let us not taken this planet for granted. I do not take tonight for granted”.
Iñárritu, who was named best director for the second consecutive year following his success with Birdman in 2015, used his speech to address the race debate that had dominated this year’s proceedings, calling it a “great opportunity for our generation to liberate ourselves from prejudice and make sure the colour of your skin is as irrelevant as the colour of your hair.”
However, the biggest success story of the night was George Miler’s Mad Max: Fury Road. The movie stormed the technical categories – taking six awards in total – three more than any other film, for costume design, production design, hair and makeup, editing, sound editing, and sound mixing.
Fury Road’s costume designer Jenny Beavan, cautioned the auditorium that the post-apocalyptic landscape of Miller’s epic cars and crashed saga, could become a reality “if we don’t stop polluting our atmosphere. It could happen”.
The best actress award was won by frontrunner Brie Larson, for her role as a kidnapped mother in Room, while in the other acting categories, there was a big surprise when Mark Rylance took the best supporting actor gong for Bridge of Spies ahead of favourite Sylvester Stallone for his role as aging former champ, Rocky in Creed – while in the best supporting actress category The Danish Girl’s Alicia Vikander beat Steve Jobs' Kate Winslet (who had taken the Bafta and Golden Globe in the same category).
Host Chris Rock engaged head-on with the race debate by launching into his dead-on opening monologue by declaring that: “You’re damn right, Hollywood’s racist” before laying into those who had decide to boycott the event in protest, singling out Jada Pinkett Smith’s protest as “like me boycotting Rihanna’s panties: I wasn’t invited”.
He also sought to put the injustice into social context, saying that, in the past, “black people had real things to protest…We were too busy being raped and lynched to care about who won best cinematographer”.
Going into the competition, The Revenant and Mad Max were the frontrunners with 12 and 10 nominations apiece; in third was The Martian, with seven. That film ended the evening empty handed, as did Carol, Brooklyn and Star Wars: The Force Awakens.