Last night, this year’s movie awards season finally came to an end at the glitzy and glamorous Academy Awards. The proceedings were kicked off by a powerful, yet still funny opening monologue by second-time host Chris Rock, that addressed the diversity controversy that has shrouded this year’s Oscar nominees. His comments were insightful and set the tone of the rest of the ceremony.
Although perhaps not the most exciting of Oscar ceremonies, there were plenty of surprise wins to balance out the foregone conclusions. The Revenant did take home two of the top prizes with wins for actor Leonardo DiCaprio and director Alejandro G. Iñárritu. DiCaprio’s win, his first after previously being nominated 5 other times, made the Internet explode with glee, while Iñárritu’s win makes him the first director to win back to back Oscars since John Mankiewicz 65 years ago. However, in the end The Revenant couldn’t clinch the best picture win. That Oscar went to Spotlight, the highly-praised ensemble drama about the Boston Globe reporters who investigated reports of abuse within the Catholic Church.
Other surprises of the evening included Mark Rylance winning Supporting Actor over Stallone, the sentimental favorite; the visual effects team for the fairly low-budget Ex Machina winning over blockbusters like Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Mad Max: Fury Road; and, in a musical upset, Sam Smith’s song for the newest Bond film winning over Lady Gaga’s documentary anthem, an earlier performance of which had prompted a standing ovation.
The big winner of the evening, taking home the most statues, was the post-apocalyptic film Mad Max: Fury Road, with six wins in technical categories. Highly rated by critics and audiences alike, it was nice to see the Academy voters honor such a high energy, big budget summer movie. I was disappointed that George Miller did not take home the Oscar for best director or picture, but it was lovely to see how much respect the winners in the technical categories had for Miller’s artistic vision.
If you missed the ceremony last night, the official Oscars website has a complete list of winners, as well as videos of most of the acceptance speeches. There are also videos of Chris Rock’s opening monologue, performances of three of the nominated songs, and the In Memoriam accompanied by Dave Grohl singing “Blackbird.”