A standing ovation – probably long overdue – was what greeted The Revenant star Leonard DiCaprio when Julianne Moore mentioned his name as winner of the Oscar for Best Actor in a lead role.
DiCaprio, 41, until Sunday, had been nominated 5 times at the Oscars but had never won.
His first Oscar nomination was in 1993 for Actor in a supporter role for the movie What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, then in 2004 for The Aviator, 2006 for Blood Diamond and then in 2013 for The Wolf of Wall Street for which he was nominated for Actor in a leading role and also Best Picture having served as the movie’s producer.
Leonardo DiCaprio was a clear favourite in a five-man race which included Bryan Cranston (Trumbo), Matt Damon (The Martian), Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs) and last year’s best actor winner Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl).
The absence of Idriss Elba who won 2 Golden Globe awards early this year for Beast of No Nation in which he played a war lord and Will Smith who played a Nigerian doctor in Concussion reignited the #OscarsSoWhite chant which gathered momentum in 2015.
Celebrated filmmaker Spike Lee and actors Will and Jada Pinkett Smith among others boycotted the event on Sunday in protest of the lack of nomination for black actors.
The diversity debate continued as Oscars host Chris Rock put his own spin on the matter.
“I’m here at the Academy Awards, otherwise known as the white People’s Choice Awards. You realize if they nominated hosts, I wouldn’t even get this job,” Rock said as he opened the show.
He joked that “unemployed people” had asked him to boycott the show, “The big question: Why this Oscars? …It’s the 88th Academy Awards, which means this whole no black nominees thing has happened at least 71 other times.”
“You gotta figure that it happened in the 50s, in the 60s – you know, in the 60s, one of those years Sidney didn’t put out a movie. I’m sure there were no black nominees some of those years. Say ’62 or ’63, and black people did not protest. Why? Because we had real things to protest at the time, you know? We had real things to protest; you know, we’re too busy being raped and lynched to care about who won best cinematographer,” Chris Rock said.
But having danced around the issue of diversity for a while, Chris Rock said: “What I’m trying to say is, you know, it’s not about boycotting anything. It’s just, we want opportunity. We want black actors to get the same opportunities as white actors. That’s it.”
Brie Larson (Room) won the Oscar for actress in a leading role – her first Oscar nomination and win and Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl) won the Oscar for actress in a supporting role. The supporting actor in a supporting role went to mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies).
The biggest winner on the night was “Mad Max: Fury Road” sweeping with 6 Oscars on the night including for Sound, Sound Mixing, Hair and Makeup, Production, Film Editing and Costume Design.
Spotlight – a drama about the Boston Globe’s exposé on sexual abuse in the Catholic church won the coveted Best Picture award.