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Oscars 2016: Leonardo DiCaprio named best actor as Spotlight takes best film

The Revenant

Story by Jack Foley

LEONARDO DiCaprio has finally won his first Oscar for survival epic The Revenant.

The star received a standing ovation as he picked up the accolade for best actor, having missed out on five previous acting nominations. And he used the platform to deliver a timely message about man’s relationship to the environment which, he said, was a key part of the film’s theme.

“Climate change is real – it is happening right now,” he said. “It is the most urgent threat right now to our entire species and we need to work now. Let us not take this planet for granted. I do not take tonight for granted.”

The Revenant also took two more awards from its 12 nominations, with Mexican filmmaker Alejandro Inarritu crowned best director for a second year in a row and Emmanuel Lubezki picking up his third consecutive Oscar for cinematography after wins for Birdman last year and Gravity in 2014.

As he accepted his award, Inarritu addressed one of the big talking points surrounding this year’s Oscars ceremony, the #OscarsSoWhite backlash, saying that this moment in time represented a “great opportunity to our generation to liberate ourselves from all prejudice”. He added that the colour of someone’s skin should be “as irrelevant as the length of their hair”.

Inarritu’s win marked his fourth Oscar in two years, following his triple triumph last year for best director, best original screenplay (as co-writer) and best picture (as producer) for Birdman.

However, the night did not go completely the way of The Revenant and there was the odd surprise among some of the award winners.

The Revenant had been expected to pick up best film but the night’s top prize actually went to journalism drama Spotlight, an account of the true story of how Boston Globe journalists uncovered widespread abuse of children within the Catholic Church at the hands of priests.

The win prompted its producer, Michael Sugar, to exclaim “wow” before adding: “This film gave a voice to survivors, and this Oscar amplifies that voice which we hope will become a choir that resonates all the way to the Vatican. Pope Francis, it’s time to protect the children and restore the faith.”

Bridge of Spies

In the best supporting actor category, meanwhile, Britain’s Mark Rylance unexpectedly beat Sylvester Stallone to the win for his performance in Steven Spielberg’s Cold War drama Bridge of Spies.

Veteran actor Stallone had been the hot favourite going into the ceremony for his performance in Rocky spin-off Creed but Rylance – who plays a spy in the film represented by Tom Hanks’ lawyer – stole a late march to land one of the night’s biggest upsets.

He said: “I’ve always just adored stories, hearing them, seeing them, being in them. So, for me to have the chance to work with one of the greatest storytellers of our time, Steven Spielberg, has just been such an honour.”

Noting the calibre of his fellow nominees, which also extended to fellow Brits Tom Hardy and Christian Bale, he added: “It’s a wonderful time to be an actor and I’m proud to be part of it.”

Another British triumph came in the best original song category, where Sam Smith won for his The Writing’s On The Wall from James Bond movie Spectre.

And he used his platform to tackle another diversity issue, declaring that he believed himself to be the first openly gay man to win an Oscar.

“I read an article by Sir Ian McKellen saying no openly gay man had ever won an Oscar,” he said. “If this the case, even if this isn’t the case, I’d like to dedicate this to all the LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] community around the world. I stand here tonight as a proud gay man and I hope we can all stand together one day.”

A second surprise came in the best supporting actress category where Alicia Vikander won for The Danish Girl ahead of pre-awards favourite Kate Winslet.

The Swedish-born actress thanked her co-star, British actor Eddie Redmayne, and her parents, after winning her first Oscar, saying: “Eddie, thank you for being the best acting partner. I could never have done it without you. You raised my game. My mum and dad, thank you for giving me the belief that anything can happen – even though I would never have believed this.”

Vikander had also faced competition from Rooney Mara, Rachel McAdams and Jennifer Jason Leigh.

The best actress category did go according to predictions, however, with Brie Larson winning for her acclaimed performance in Room – the tale of an abducted mother and her son who finally get the chance of escape after years in captivity.

Mad Max: Fury Road

The biggest winner of the night in terms of trophies was George Miller’s post-apocalyptic chase movie Mad Max: Fury Road, which took home six accolades – all of them technical.

Among those triumphs was another for British designer Jenny Beavan, for best costume design, who said: “It was a year of our lives in the Namibian desert, we had the most amazing crew. It was an incredible experience but it could be horribly prophetic, Mad Max, if we aren’t kinder to each other and don’t stop polluting our atmosphere. So, you know, it could happen.”

The film also won Oscars for production design, make-up and hairstyling, film editing, sound editing and sound mixing.

Yet another British success came for Amy Winehouse documentary Amy, which won the best documentary feature Oscar for British filmmakers Asif Kapadia and James Gay-Rees.

Kapadia said of the late singer: “This film is about Amy and showing the world who she really was, not the tabloid persona. We just wanted to make a film to show the world who she really was.”

Composer Ennio Morricone won the Oscar for best original film score for Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight – a prize that, somewhat incredibly, marked the first Oscar that the 87-year-old has won.

He dedicated the award to his wife, Maria.

Pixar’s Inside Out picked up best animated film, while Hungarian film Son of Saul – about a Jewish man forced to work at a Nazi death camp who seeks a proper religious burial for a boy who he believes is his son – won best foreign language film.

Irish director Benjamin Cleary won the best live action short Oscar for Stutterer, which is about a man with a severe stammer.

Going into the ceremony, all eyes had been on how host Chris Rock would tackle the issue of diversity and the OscarsSoWhite controversy, especially in light of several high profile actors – including Will Smith – choosing to boycott the ceremony in protest against the fact that for the second year in a row the Academy had failed to nominate a single actor of colour among its main nominees.

But the presenter and comedian won widespread praise for the way in which he opted to tackle the issue head on. Upon taking to the stage to open the ceremony following a montage of clips from the year’s past movies, he joked: “Man, I counted at least 15 black people in that montage.”

He went on to welcome the audience to the Oscars, “otherwise known as the white people’s choice awards”.

He then delivered a monologue that was as bitingly funny as it was thought-provoking. Observing that while there were plenty of years during the 50s and 60s in which there were no black nominees, he said there wasn’t an accompanying protest then “because we were too busy being raped and lynched to worry about won best cinematographer”.

He then got spontaneous applause for saying: “We want opportunity. We want black actors to get the same opportunity as white actors.”

View the winners list in full