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In a ceremony loaded with serious topics, from global climate change to Hollywood's lack of racial diversity, the hard-hitting drama "Spotlight" about journalists exposing child sex abuse by Catholic priests took home Best Picture at the 88th annual Academy Awards Sunday night.
"This film gave a voice to survivors," producer Michael Sugar said as he accepted the Best Picture honor. "This Oscar amplifies that voice, which we hope will become a choir that we hope will resonate all the way to the Vatican."
Sugar then addressed Pope Francis: "It's time to protect the children, and restore the faith."
"Spotlight," which told how Boston Globe reporters and editors cracked the story of decades of abuse going on in Boston's Catholic archdiocese, also won the Oscar for original screenplay.
"We made this movie for all the journalists who have and continue to hold people accountable," said Josh Singer, who co-wrote the screenplay with "Spotlight's" director, Tom McCarthy.
"The Revenant," a brawny epic about a mountain guide seeking revenge in 1820s Dakotas, won three Academy Awards, and made a bit of Oscar history. Alejandro G. Iñårritu became the first person since 1950 to win the Best Director award two years in a row, and Emmanuel Lubezki became the first person ever to win the Cinematography prize three years running.
And the star of "The Revenant," Leonardo DiCaprio, won a long-sought-after Oscar for Best Actor, after four previous nominations.
DiCaprio thanked everyone involved in making "The Revenant," a movie he said was "about man's relationship to the natural world." Finding locations to make the movie was made more difficult, he said, because of global climate change. "Our production had to move to the southern tip of this planet just to find snow," he said.
Costume designer Jenny Beavan, who won her category for her work in the post-apocalyptic action drama "Mad Max: Fury Road," also sounded the climate-change alarm.
"It could be incredibly prophetic, 'Mad Max,' if we're not kinder to each other and stop polluting our atmosphere," Beavan said.
"Mad Max: Fury Road" took home the most hardware Sunday night, nabbing six Oscars in the craft and technical categories: Costume design, production design, makeup and hairstyling, sound editing, sound mixing and film editing.
Brie Larson took Best Actress honors for her work in "Room," in which she played a young mother protecting her five-year-old son from the reality that they are being held hostage.
In her long list of thank-yous, Larson singled out Jacob Tremblay, the young actor who played her son, who was "my partner through this, in every way possible." Larson also thanked "the moviegoers thank you for going to see our films."
Awards for supporting performances went to English actor Mark Rylance, for playing a Soviet agent in Steven Spielberg's thriller "Bridge of Spies," and to Swedish actor Alicia Vikander for playing the comforting wife of a transgender painter in the historical drama "The Danish Girl."
One of the emotional high points of the Oscar ceremony was Lady Gaga's fiery performance of her song "Til It Happens to You," from the documentary "The Hunting Ground." The song has become an anthem in the fight against rape on college campuses, and Gaga was joined on stage by dozens of rape survivors. However, in one of the night's biggest shocks, Gaga's number lost the Original Song category to "Writing's on the Wall," singer Sam Smith's theme song from the James Bond movie "Spectre."
Emcee Chris Rock did not shy away from the "Oscars So White" controversy begun when, for the second year running, no actors of color were among the 20 nominated.
Rock managed to find humor and make serious points. For example, he joked that African-Americans didn't protest all-white Oscar slates in the '60s, because "we had real things to protest at the time. We were too busy being raped and lynched to care about who won Best Cinematography."
The Mexican-born Iñárritu addressed the diversity issue more seriously during his acceptance speech. He urged people to work toward a day when "the color of our skin becomes as irrelevant as the length of our hair."
Oscars: The winners
Here are the winners for the 88th annual Academy Awards:
Picture • "Spotlight"
Actor • Leonardo DiCaprio, "The Revenant"
Actress • Brie Larson, "Room"
Supporting Actor • Mark Rylance, "Bridge of Spies"
Supporting Actress • Alicia Vikander, "The Danish Girl"
Director • Alejandro G. Iñárritu, "The Revenant"
Original Screenplay • Josh Singer & Tom McCarthy, "Spotlight"
Adapted Screenplay • Charles Randolph and Adam McKay, "The Big Short"
Cinematography • Emmanuel Lubezki, "The Revenant"
Production Design • Cedric Gibson, Lisa Thompson, "Mad Max: Fury Road"
Costume Design • Jenny Beavan, "Mad Max: Fury Road"
Makeup and Hairstyling • Lesley Vanderwalt, Elka Wardega and Damian Martin, "Mad Max: Fury Road"
Music, Original Score • Ennio Morricone, "The Hateful Eight"
Music, Original Song • Jimmy Napes and Sam Smith, "Writing's on the Wall," from "Spectre"
Film Editing • Margaret Sixel, "Mad Max: Fury Road"
Sound Mixing • Chris Jenkins, Greg Rudolf, Ben Osmo, "Mad Max: Fury Road"
Sound Editing • Mark Mangini and David White, "Mad Max: Fury Road"
Visual Effects • Andrew Whitehurst, Paul Norris, Mark Ardington, Sara Bennett, "Ex Machina."
Foreign-Language Film • "Son of Saul" (Hungary)
Animated Feature • "Inside Out"
Documentary Feature • "Amy"
Documentary Short Subject • "A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness"
Short Film, Animated • "Bear Story"
Short Film, Live-Action • "Stutterer" What some Oscar winners had to say about diversity
Diversity was the hot topic at the Oscars, and here's what some of the winners had to say on the issue backstage at the Academy Awards in Los Angeles on Sunday:
• "I think that the debate is not only about black and white people. I think diversity really includes brown. I think we are yellow and Native Americans and Latin American. The word is much more than one or the other. I think it's becoming a little bit very polarized, very politicized, without observing the complexity and beauty of this country being so mixed. That is a real power of it."
"We are still dragging those prejudices and tribal thinking at this time. It seems absolutely absurd."
Alejandro G. Inarritu, winner, best director, for "The Revenant"
• "I'm so proud to be working with these guys. It's what this industry is and what it should be."
Leonardo DiCaprio, winner, best lead actor, for "The Revenant," on the fact that best director Inarritu and best cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, are both from Mexico.
• "If you look at the filmmakers, and the winner who just came through here, I think a genre that's quite diverse is the documentary section."
"All we can do is do our bit. I'm from an Indian background, my family is Muslim, a working-class background in north London, and you know, I didn't grow up in the film business, I didn't know anyone in the film business. So, all I can do is do my bit. All I can say to you is to ask those questions to the white people who come up here and not just the brown people."
Asif Kapadian, winner, best documentary, for "Amy"
• "I should know him. We should date."
Sam Smith, winner, best original song, for "Writing's on the Wall," upon being told he was mistaken in thinking he was the first openly gay man to win an Oscar, including in the category, which was won by Howard Ashman, who died in 1991 from AIDS complications.
• "This is what happens when determined women get together."
"This week, the Pakistani prime minister said he would change the law on honor killing of women. That is the power of film."
Sharemeen Obaid-Chinoy, winner, best documentary short, for "A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness."
• "I thought he was great. I admire him as a big comedian and so happy he came in tonight and brought up both a lot of laughs and a lot of reality issues in the same way. I'm very happy he's our host tonight."
Alicia Vikander, winner, best supporting actress, for "The Danish Girl," on having Chris Rock as host.
The Associated Press