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.


Latest Entertainment News

  • Paul Beatty beats 2 Canadians to win Man Booker Prize for 'The Sellout Man'

    Entertainment CTV News
    LONDON -- Paul Beatty has won the Man Booker Prize for fiction for "The Sellout Man." He is the first American novelist to take the prestigious literary award. Judges said Beatty's provocative book, a stinging satire of race and class in the United States, was as timely as the evening news. Source
  • Walking Dead villain sounds off on brutal murders

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    *** Warning: This story contains Walking Dead spoilers *** Jeffrey Dean Morgan was “completely drained” after shooting the season seven premiere of The Walking Dead. The 50-year-old actor stars as the villainous Negan in the hit zombie drama, and used his barbed wire covered baseball bat, nicknamed Lucille, to claim the lives of Steven Yeun’s Glenn and Michael Cudlitz’s Abraham in the first episode of the new series of the programme. Source
  • Justin Timberlake's ballot selfie may have violated election law

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Justin Timberlake could be in big trouble after posting a shot of himself voting early online. The busy star didn’t want to miss the chance to cast his vote for America’s next leader, so he flew home to Memphis, Tennessee after the Trolls premiere in Los Angeles on Sunday so he could stand up and be counted. Source
  • 'Ovaries explosion': Gilmore Girls fans go crazy for 1st revival trailer

    Entertainment CBC News
    Gilmore Girls fans were transported back to Stars Hollow for two minutes Tuesday as Netflix released the first full-length trailer for its upcoming revival series Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. Source
  • ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 7 set pics confirm fan theories

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Spoilers gonna spoil. Especially with a TV show as ripe as Game of Thrones. Some new paparazzi pics from the set of HBO’s epic fantasy drama popped up online this week, seeming to show – spoilers ahead, obviously – a meeting between Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and the dynamic duo of Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) and Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage). Source
  • Warren Beatty on Trump: ‘Don’t get me started’

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Even the apolitical among us cannot fail to be amazed by these new election-flavoured stories: 1. Filmmaker Ron Howard tells us, on the upcoming U.S. election and Donald Trump, “We don’t want to give a bully a chance to become a despot. Source
  • Watch: Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life Of official trailer is finally here

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    The trailer for the much anticipated Gilmore Girls revival has finally dropped and we couldn’t be happier. Netflix released the trailer for the upcoming four-part series that picks up where the original left off nine years ago. Source
  • Rihanna’s backup dancer reported missing

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Shirlene Quigley, a 32-year-old backup dancer who has worked with stars like Beyoncé , Rihanna, and Missy Elliott, is missing. Rihanna posted a video of Quigley on Instagram Monday, asking fans and followers to contact the Bergen County Police Department in New Jersey with any useful information on her whereabouts. Source
  • Germany halts plans for Armenian genocide concert at consulate in Istanbul

    Entertainment CTV News
    BERLIN -- Germany's Foreign Ministry has halted plans for a classical concert about the Armenian genocide that was due to be held at its consulate in Istanbul. The ministry confirmed media reports Tuesday that it had informed the Dresden Symphony Orchestra the venue wouldn't be available Nov. Source
  • Sam Roberts goes into space with ‘TerraForm’

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Sam Roberts’ timing is out of this world. The same month that the Canadian rocker and his band are due to release their galactically titled sixth album TerraForm (out Oct. 28), U.S. President Barack Obama has reaffirmed his desire to send astronauts to Mars by the 2030s. Source