Spotlight takes the top spot

The Revenant and Mad Max:Fury Road share the Oscar glory.

by Jennie Kermode

Best Picture winner Spotlight
Best Picture winner Spotlight

It won the first award of the night and it won the last - despite tough competition that kept people guessing right up until the end, Spotlight was named Best Picture at this year's Oscars. A challenging study of what happened when reporters at the Boston Globe took on the Catholic Church over child abuse - the case that ultimately led to the unravelling of similar scandals round the world - it was directed by Tom McCarthy and written by Josh Singer, who was very pleased with his Best Original Screenplay award. The team at the Boston Globe were also celebrating when they heard about the film's success, which comes just one day after it triumphed at the Independent Spirit Awards.

Also a winner two nights in a row was Brie Larson, Best Actress for Room, and it was fifth time lucky for Leonardo DiCaprio (not counting his nomination as a producer) who was finally recognised for his acting, taking home the Best Actor statuette for his performance in The Revenant. He might well have deserved a further award for putting up with being chased around the venue by a man in a bear suit all evening.

Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant
Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant

Although it didn't dominate the awards the way its many nominations might have led fans to expect, The Revenant did succeed in securing Best Director for Alejandro González Iñárritu, making him the first person for 60 years to win that award two years in a row. He's busy working in television at present, however, so somebody else may have a chance next year.

Though Mad Max: Fury Road didn't achieve the breakthrough some fans had hoped for, it took six awards in technical categories, including a well deserved Best Editing prize for Margaret Sixel, who worked through an astounding 480 hours of footage to produce the final cut.

The ceremony was hosted by Chris Rock, who attracted mixed reactions but mostly praise for his presentation and his refusal to avoid the race issues that have been much talked about in the run-up to this year's event, no matter how palpably uncomfortable they made some Academy members. He suggested that there should be a new award for having a Black Best Friend and returned to the topic at every opportunity, managing to find a lot of humour in a very difficult subject.

There was also controversy over the organisers' mysterious decision to let only three nominees for Best Original Song showcase their work during the ceremony, which led to Anohni, nominated for Manta Ray in Racing Extinction, staying away. Her response was a poignant reminder that, whilst some of those nominated may be used to winning big film awards, to others they really do mean the world, and exclusion can be heartbreaking.

Brie Larson in Room
Brie Larson in Room

On the red carpet, star style was as striking as ever, with lots of shades of white, silver and pale yellow. Naomi Watts stood out in a slinky sapphire blue number and sparkling diamond necklace, whilst Saoirse Ronan looks lizard-like (in a good way) in a sequinned emerald green dress. In contrast to the slender cuts of most of the dresses, Brie Larson had a sweeping blue gown made with layered chiffon, but she mostly stood out because of her expression, looking slightly overwhelmed and absolutely thrilled to be there.

Olivia Munn wore an elegant off-the-shoulder orange gown and Charlize Theron looked stunning in scarlet as they posed for photographs and talked to fans. Eddie Redmayne was dapper in a black velvet suit, Sylvester Stallone showed off his very personal sense of style with a purple satin shirt and white jacket, and Harrison Ford, in a grey suit with a pale blue shirt, looked as if he just stepped out of an office. We figured that people there to represent Star Wars: The Force Awakens don't need to look glamorous in order to thrill the fans. Perhaps the most striking person on the red carpet, however, was Sandy Powell, nominated for her costume design work on Carol, who conjured David Bowie, wearing a silver and blue suit with her spiked hair dyed bright orange.

Like previous protesters of Oscar ceremonies, civil rights activists, led by the Reverend Al Sharpton, were allowed to demonstrate only within a specially designated area half a mile from where the ceremony was held. They were asking advertisers to boycott next year's event because of this year's failure to recognise the achievements of people of colour. Several actors planned to boycott tonight's event because of this issue but we understand that some were later satisfied by the Academy's efforts to ensure there will be no repeat of the problem. The Oscar nominations stand in sharp contrast to last night's Independent Spirit Awards, at which three quarters of the winners in the acting categories were people of colour.

"It's time for our country to have this discussion in an earnest way," said Mark Ruffalo of the #OscarsSoWhite issue. Alejandro González Iñárritu said he hopes there will be a day when "the colour of our skin is as irrelevant as the length of our hair."

Those awards in full:-

Best Film

Best Director

Best Actor

Best Actress

Best Supporting Actress

Best Supporting Actor

Best Foreign Language Film

Best Documentary

Best Animated Feature

Best Original Screenplay

Best Adapted Screenplay

Best Live Action Short.

Best Documentary Short

Best Animated Short

Best Cinematography

Best Editing

Best Production Design

Best Visual Effects

Best Costume Design

Best Make-up and Hairstyling

Best Sound Editing

Best Sound Mixing

Best Original Song

Best Original Score

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