Entertainment & Arts

Oscars 2016: Surprises and soapboxes

Spotlight winners, Leonardo DiCaprio, Alejandro Inarritu, Mark Rylance Image copyright AFP/REUTERS/GETTY

Wins for Spotlight and Mark Rylance were the biggest surprises of Oscar night.

For months now it seemed The Revenant, by far the biggest draw at the box office, had it in the bag for best picture.

Some industry experts were backing The Big Short following its win at the Producers Guild of America awards in January.

The past five years has seen the winner of the PGA go on to win the Oscar. But that run has now been broken.

Spotlight deals with a tough issue of systemic child abuse by priests and the church's inaction and cover-up.

Director and screenwriter Tom McCarthy, plus producers and cast, have been praising the work of the journalists at the Boston Globe who worked tirelessly to break the story.

In the end it was Spotlight that crossed the finish line first.

Sylvester Stallone was the popular favourite for Creed, a role which has earned him fulsome praise for a return to form from his Rocky debut days.

But the Academy voters instead went for the quiet, understated performance of Rylance in Bridge of Spies.

The decision didn't go down well in the press room, with genuine gasps of shock that Stallone would not be taking home a statuette.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Director of The Big Short Adam McKay was the first winner to speak out on an issue

The stage at the ceremony became a soapbox as winners used their allotted time to vent on their pet subjects.

Adam McKay, director of The Big Short, kicked things off when he collected the prize for best adapted screenplay warning against voting for a presidential candidate that takes money from the oil companies.

He later clarified that he wasn't singling out a particular candidate.

"Big money is taking over our government, and until right and left goes, no more big money. It has to be like a scarlet letter on these candidates.

"So I really honestly did not mean either side, but like Google it. Just Google it. You can see what the candidates have been paid, and when you elect people that get money from banks and oil and weirdo billionaires, that's who they vote for."

Image copyright AP
Image caption Leonardo DiCaprio and director Alejandro Inarritu both spoke about issues in their acceptance speeches

Alejandro Inarritu spoke up on diversity and racism in his acceptance speech during his win for best director.

"I am very lucky to be here tonight, but unfortunately many others haven't had the same luck.

"There is a line in the film that [Hugh] Glass [played by Leonardo DiCaprio] says to his mixed-race son, 'They don't listen to you, they just see the colour of your skin'.

"So what a great opportunity to our generation to really liberate ourselves from all prejudice and, you know, this tribal thinking, and make sure for once and forever that the colour of the skin become as irrelevant as the length of our hair."

DiCaprio meanwhile called on everyone to respect the planet and focus on the challenges of global warming.

"Climate change is real. It is happening right now," he said.

"It is the most urgent threat facing our entire species, and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating."

So while the diversity issue dogged the build-up and was handled so well during Chris Rock's opening monologue, it was other world crises that were put on the agenda.

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