Abuse took center stage at the 88th Academy Awards last night. Spotlight, which won the DFW Film Critics Association’s top honor (and was my No. 2 film of 2015) — and was about the Catholic priest sex abuse scandal — won best picture and original screenplay, while Brie Larson won best actress for Room, playing a teenager kidnapped and raped for seven years. And the big winner of the night was Mad Max: Fury Road, a feminist futuristic action film the dealt powerfully with women held as sex slaves. It won six of its ten nominations (film editing, sound editing, sound mixing, production design, costume design, makeup).
The Revenant took three Oscars, all historic in their way. Alejandro Inarritu repeated as best director (he won for Birdman last year), becoming only the third director to win consecutive awards, and the third consecutive Mexican-born winner. His cinematographer, Emmanuel Lubezki, won his third consecutive Oscar (a first) and Leonardo DiCaprio won his first Oscar after six failed nominations in the past.
Alicia Vikander won best supporting actress as the wife of a transgender pioneer in The Danish Girl. The Big Short won for best adapted screenplay. Ennio Morricone won his first-ever competitive Oscar for his score to The Hateful Eight.
The huge upset of the evening was in supporting actor, which went to Mark Rylance as a pawn in international intrigue in Steven Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies. Sylvester Stallone was hotly expected to win his first Oscar for his heartbreaking performance as Rocky Balboa in Creed.
But there were other upsets as well, including best song to “Writing’s On the Wall” from Spectre, composed by out gay man Sam Smith. (Smith incorrectly said he was the first openly gay Oscar winner, but the sentiment was genuine). And Ex Machina, the contemplative sci-fi drama, beat out tough competition to take best visual effects.
Other winners: Inside Out (animated feature), Bear Story (animated short), Son of Saul (foreign language film), Stutterer (live action short), Amy (documentary feature) and A Girl in the River (documentary short).
Chris Rock, a former Oscar host, masterfully addressed the #OscarsSoWhite issue in his monologue and bits.