Last night’s ceremony at Hollywood’s Dolby Theater saw some long-anticipated wins: Leonardo DiCaprio finally won his first Oscar for survival epic The Revenant after six (six!) nominations, Brie Larson was named Best Actress for Room, and Mad Max: Fury Road was the big winner of the night, scooping up six awards.
But it was the category of Best Picture that caused the biggest upset: instead of The Revenant, which won the BAFTA earlier this month and had already won Best Director, the final award went to Spotlight, a movie about The Boston Globe’s investigation into the Catholic Church’s cover-up of pedophile priests.
And when Mark Rylance was announced as the winner of Best Supporting Actor, there was an audible gasp from the audience. Sylvester Stallone had been the favorite for his role in Creed, but the award went to the Wolf Hall star instead, thanks to his performance as a Soviet spy involved in a dangerous exchange in Steven Spielberg’s Cold War thriller Bridge of Spies.
Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu grabbed the Best Director gong for a second year in a row, winning for his work on The Revenant hot on the heels of his win for Birdman last year; while Swedish Alicia Vikander won Best Supporting Actress for her role alongside last year’s big winner Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl.
Other gold statuettes went to British director Asif Kapadia for Amy, his documentary about the life and death of Amy Winehouse, and Sam Smith, whose song “Writing’s On the Wall” from Bond movie Spectre was named Best Original Song.
Best Foreign Language Film went to Son of Saul, a Hungarian movie set in the concentration camp Auschwitz in 1944.
The night’s most shocking moments however came from host Chris Rock, who addressed the #OscarsSoWhite controversy head on. Several filmmakers had boycotted the ceremony in protest at the fact that all 20 nominees in the best acting or supporting acting categories were white, and Rock was never going to ignore it.
Commenting he had “counted at least 15 black people” in the opening montage, Rock welcomed people to the “White People’s Choice Awards”.
He went on: “Everyone wants to know, is Hollywood racist? You have to go at it the right way. Is it burning-cross racist? Fetch-me-some-lemonade racist? No.
“It’s a different kind of racist. Is Hollywood racist? You’re damn right it’s racist but it’s sorority racist. It’s like: We like you Rhonda, but you’re not a Kappa.'”
It was a theme he returned to several times during the night.
In the end, however, it was Leo’s big night: After he won his long-awaited gong, there was a surge in appreciation for the actor on social media.
— Lisa Suhay (@NiceChess757) February 29, 2016
Finally!!! Our guy!!! We're so so happy for Leo!!!
— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) February 29, 2016
Leo be waking up tomorrow like pic.twitter.com/4F5hEANytH
— Sincerely Tumblr (@SincerelyTumblr) February 29, 2016