In an upset, 'Spotlight' wins best picture at Oscars

LOS ANGELES -- In an underdog win for a movie about an underdog profession, the newspaper drama "Spotlight" took best picture at the 88th Academy Awards on Sunday, where remarks on lack of diversity in Hollywood dominated proceedings.

See Full Article

Tom McCarthy's film about the Boston Globe's investigative reporting on sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests won over the favoured frontier epic "The Revenant." The well-crafted procedural, led by a strong ensemble cast, had lagged in the lead-up to the Oscars, losing ground to the flashier filmmaking of Alejandro Inarritu's film.

But "Spotlight" -- an ode to the hard-nose, methodical work of a journalism increasingly seldom practiced -- took the night's top honour despite winning only one other Oscar for McCarthy and Josh Singer's screenplay. Such a sparsely-awarded best picture winner hasn't happened since 1952's "The Greatest Show On Earth."

After four previous misses, Leonardo DiCaprio won his first Oscar for his grunting, gruff performance in "The Revenant." Best actress went to Brie Larson, the 26-year-old breakout of the mother-son captive drama "Room."

"Climate change is real," said DiCaprio. "It is happening right now. It is the most urgent threat facing our entire species. ... Let us not take our planet for granted. I do not take tonight for granted."

Alejandro Inarritu took best director for a second straight year, a feat matched by only two other filmmakers: John Ford and Joseph L. Mankiewicz. His brutal frontier epic "The Revenant," which came in with a leading 12 nods and the favourite for best picture, also won best cinematography for Emmanuel Lubezki. Renowned for his use of natural light in lengthy, balletic shots, Lubezki became the first cinematographer to win three times in a row (following wins for "Gravity" and "Birdman"), and only the seventh to three-peat in Oscar history.

Inarritu, the Mexican director of last year's best-picture winner "Birdman," was one of the few winners to remark passionately on diversity in his speech.

"What a great opportunity for our generation to really liberate ourselves from all prejudice and this tribal thinking and to make sure for once and forever that the colour of our skin becomes as irrelevant as the length of our hair," said Inarritu.

But the night belonged to host Chris Rock, whose much anticipated opening monologue left few disappointed. He confronted head-on the uproar over the lack of diversity in this year's nominees, and returned to the topic throughout the show. ("We're black," he said after a commercial break.)

"Is Hollywood racist? You're damn right it's racist," said Rock, who also sought to put the issue in perspective. "Hollywood is sorority racist. It's like: We like you Rhonda, but you're not a Kappa."

Rock had stayed quiet before the ceremony as the controversy raged over the second straight year of all-white acting nominees, leaving Hollywood and viewers eagerly awaiting his one-liners. He confessed that he deliberated over joining the Oscars boycott and bowing out as host, but concluded: "The last thing I need is to lose another job to Kevin Hart."

With the Rev. Al Sharpton leading a protest outside the Dolby Theatre and some viewers tuning out the broadcast, Hollywood's opportunity imbalance often overshadowed the actual awards -- though "Mad Max: Fury Road" did its best to command the spotlight.

George Miller's post-apocalyptic chase film exploded with six awards in technical categories for editing, makeup, production design, sound editing, sound mixing and costume design. Roundly acclaimed for its old-school craft, Miller's "Mad Max" was assured of becoming the evening's most awarded film.

"Us Mad Maxes are doing OK tonight," said editor Margaret Sixel, who's also Miller's wife. The flurry of wins brought a parade of Australian craftsmen onstage, including sound editor Mark Mangini, who celebrated with a loud expletive.

There were few surprises Sunday, but the supporting actor win for Rylance drew gasps. Stallone, nominated a second time 39 years later for the role of Rocky Balboa, had been expected to win his first acting Oscar for the "Rocky" sequel "Creed." He instead lost to the famed stage actor who co-starred in Steven Spielberg's "Bridge of Spies."

Adam McKay and Charles Randolph took best adapted screenplay for their self-described "trauma-dy" about the mortgage meltdown of 2008, "The Big Short." McKay thanked Paramount Pictures for taking a risk on a movie about "financial esoterica." Best known for broader comedies like "Anchorman" and "Step Brothers," McKay gave an election-year warning to power of "big money" and "weirdo billionaires" in the presidential campaign.

Talk of the presidential election was otherwise largely absent the ceremony, though Vice-President Joe Biden (whose presence added even greater security to the Dolby Theatre) was met by a standing ovation before talking about sexual assault on college campuses before introducing best-song nominee Lady Gaga.

Best supporting actress went Alicia Vikander for the transgender pioneer tale "The Danish Girl." Vikander, the 27-year-old Sweden-born actress was ubiquitous in 2015, also winning awards for her performance in the sci-fi "Ex Machina."

Best animated feature film went to "Inside Out," Pixar's eighth win in the category since it was created in 2001. Asif Kapadia's Amy Winehouse portrait, "Amy," took best documentary. Hungary scored its second best foreign language Oscar for Laszlo Nemes' "Son of Saul," a harrowing drama set within a concentration camp.

"Even in the darkest hours of mankind, there might be a voice within us that allows us to remain human," said Nemes. "That's the hope of this film."

The nominees restored the hashtag "OscarsSoWhite" to prominence and led Spike Lee (an honorary Oscar winner this year) and Jada Pinkett Smith to announce that they would not attend the show. Several top African American filmmakers, Ryan Coogler ("Creed") and Ava DuVernay ("Selma") spent the evening not at the Oscars but in Flint, Mich., raising money for the water-contaminated city.

Aside from pleading for more opportunity for black actors, Rock also sought to add perspective to the turmoil. Rock said this year didn't differ much from Oscar history, but black people in earlier decades were "too busy being raped and lynched to worry about who won best cinematographer."

In a quick response to the growing crisis, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, president of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, pushed ahead reforms to the academy intended to diversify its overwhelming white and male membership. But those changes (which included stripping older, out-of-work members of their voting privileges) precipitated a backlash, too. A chorus of academy members challenged the reforms.

In remarks during the show by the president -- usually one of the sleepiest moments in the broadcast -- Boone Isaacs strongly defended the changes, quoting Martin Luther King Jr. and urging each Oscar attendee to bring greater opportunity to the industry. She was received politely, if not enthusiastically, by the audience.

"It's not enough to listen and agree," said Boone Isaacs. "We must take action."

How the controversy will affect ratings for ABC is one of the night's big questions. Last year's telecast, hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, slid 16 per cent to 36.6 million viewers, a six-year low.

------

Derrik J. Lang contributed to this report.



Advertisements

Latest Entertainment News

  • Ken Burns making documentary film on Muhammad Ali

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEW YORK -- The late Muhammad Ali is getting the Ken Burns treatment. The PBS documentarian announced Tuesday that he and two partners will make a two-part, four-hour film about the former heavyweight champ, who died last June. Source
  • Reality TV show 'Eden' leaves contestants in the wilderness for a year -- but no one was watching

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    A reality show no one’s watching? That’s called real life. And for the contestants of Eden – a reality show that aired, albeit briefly, on the U.K.’s Channel 4 – that’s exactly what happened. A year ago, producers dropped 23 strangers into a remote area of Scotland to build a self-sufficient community away from technology. Source
  • Rob Stewart's family files lawsuit after filmmaker’s dive death

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    MIAMI — The family of a Canadian filmmaker and conservationist who died during a shark filming excursion in the Florida Keys has filed a wrongful death lawsuit. The lawsuit filed Tuesday in the death of 37-year-old Rob Stewart blames negligence on the companies and individuals who organized the January dive. Source
  • Spider-Man’s Venom spinoff to be rated R

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Back in the Andrew Garfield Spider-Man days – remember those? – Sony had plans for villain spinoffs focusing on the Sinister Six and Venom. Now that the web crawler is back within Marvel’s Cinematic Universe (Spider-Man: Homecoming is due out this summer), we thought those dreams were scrapped. Source
  • Drake enrages Dutch fans by cancelling concert for third time

    Entertainment CTV News
    Dutch fans of Drake shouted obscenities and exhibited crude gestures aimed at the hip hop star after he cancelled a concert in Amsterdam for the third time in three months. Numerous videos uploaded to social media on Thursday evening show the large crowd inside the Zippo Dome react in anger in the moments after a woman came on stage to share the bad news. Source
  • Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin on 'Grace and Frankie,' aging, female sexuality and taboos

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin have had decades to study for their roles as confidantes on Netlix's "Grace and Frankie." They've been friends since the late 1970s, and they collaborated on 1980's "9 to 5" with Dolly Parton. Source
  • Margaret Atwood expands The Handmaid's Tale for audiobook

    Entertainment CBC News
    Margaret Atwood hasn't quite finished telling The Handmaid's Tale. The Canadian author has provided additional material for a special audio edition coming out next week exclusively from audio producer and distributor Audible.com, which is owned by Amazon.com. Source
  • Drake's More Life smashes records, including his own

    Entertainment CBC News
    He started from the bottom, but now Drake's sitting atop the music charts again. More Life, the Toronto rapper's latest release, is officially a record-breaker. The 22-track album, which Drake has described as a "playlist" project, set a new U.S. Source
  • Family files lawsuit in Canadian filmmaker's Florida Keys dive death

    Entertainment CBC News
    The family of a Canadian filmmaker and conservationist who died during a shark filming excursion in the Florida Keys has filed a wrongful death lawsuit. The lawsuit filed Tuesday in the death of 37-year-old Rob Stewart blames negligence on the companies and individuals who organized the January dive. Source
  • 'Star Wars' movies planned into the 2030s

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    First, the good news. Star Wars movies are going to keep clicking along for many, many years. Now, the bad news. You might not actually live long enough to see them all. During a recent chat at the Scale: The Future of Tech and Entertainment conference in Santa Monica, Disney CEO Bob Iger shed some light on what Star Wars fans can expect in the future. Source