Spotlight upset The Revenant to win best picture at the 88th Academy Awards last night. But The Revenant earned two big awards: best director for Alejandro G. Inarritu and best actor for Leonardo DiCaprio.
Mad Max: Fury Road led all films with six awards — all in minor categories.
Oh, and Chris Rock hosted.
The power rankings:
1. CHRIS ROCK
Chris Rock hosted the Academy Awards for the first time in 2005, when he said: “We have four black nominees … it’s kind of like the Def Oscar Jam tonight.”
Last night was different: “I’m here at the Academy Awards, otherwise known as the White People’s Choice Awards.”
That’s because the Academy last month failed to nominate any nonwhite actors for the second straight year, which led to Jada Pinkett Smith and Spike Lee boycotting the awards ceremony and the Academy approving “a sweeping series of substantive changes designed to make the Academy’s membership, its governing bodies, and its voting members significantly more diverse.”
But that’s next year.
Rock — whose specialty is race and who Tina Fey called “the greatest living American stand-up comedian” before the show — killed it. From the opening monologue to using Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power” over the closing credits, he was nearly pitch perfect. He beat up white Hollywood — and everyone else.
On Pinkett Smith:
“Jada is going to boycott the Oscars — Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna’s panties. I wasn’t invited.”
On Kevin Hart:
“Kev makes movies fast. Every month. Porno stars don’t make movies that fast.”
On racist police officers:
“This year, in the In Memoriam package, it’s just going to be black people that were shot by the cops on their way to the movies.”
But his sharpest commentary was found in a story about predominantly white Hollywood fundraiser for President Obama and that moment before Rock had his picture taken with the president: “Mr. President, you see all these writers and producers and actors? They don’t hire black people, and they’re the nicest white people on earth! They’re liberals! Cheese!”
The audience laughed. But Rock was talking about them.
Rock, who worked on his monologue at the Comedy Store in Los Angeles, is a comic’s comic. He clearly called on some of his friends for last night’s show.
One winning bit involved inserting black actors into popular scenes from nominated movies — Whoopi Goldberg mopping up behind Jennifer Lawrence in Joy, Leslie Jones beating up Leo in The Revenant, Tracy Morgan as The Danish Girl and Rock as The Martian who NASA doesn’t want to bring home.
Sarah Silverman’s rant about James Bond not calling her back after sex and not being “street enough” before she introduced Sam Smith was rambling and funny.
Louis C.K. was great. He presented the award for best documentary short, praising the eventual recipient as someone who has the opportunity to “change a life” but not “make a dime on this. … This Oscar is going home in a Honda Civic.”
Other comedy pieces didn’t work as well — the ones involving Stacey Dash, Suge Knight and Girl Scout Cookies. But it hardly mattered, because Rock and the participants were having so much fun.
3. LEONARDO DiCAPRIO
Leo didn’t win an Academy Award for playing a character with AIDS or a speech impediment or whatever it is that happened to Stephen Hawking. Or because he was eaten by a bear in The Revenant. He won for a career of great work.
The 41-year-old had been nominated four times before for The Wolf of Wall Street, Blood Diamond, The Aviator and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape. He could have been nominated for Titanic, Gangs of New York, Catch Me if You Can, The Departed, Revolutionary Road, Inception, Django Unchained or The Great Gatsby.
DiCaprio doesn’t care about subtly. He explores the kind of acting you can see all over his face and the screen — the furrowed brow, his dancing in Wolf of Wall Street and Gatsby and all that grunting in The Revenant.
“I can name 30 or 40 sequences that were some of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do,” he said last year of shooting The Revenant. “Whether it’s going in and out of frozen rivers, or sleeping in animal carcasses, or what I ate on set. [I was] enduring freezing cold and possible hypothermia constantly.”
That’s why he won the Oscar. A commitment to his craft — and possible hypothermia.
Matt Damon may hold the title of Most Underrated Actor of his generation.
But Leo holds an Academy Award.
King of the World.
4. ALEJANDRO G. INARRITU
AGI used to be one of the Three Amigos: a trio of Mexican filmmakers — along with Alfonso Cuaron and Guillermo del Toro — who have a combined 14 Oscar nominations.
Now Inarritu (Birdman, The Revenant) is a name brand — the first director in more than 50 years to win back-to-back Oscars. Only 20 have won multiple trophies.
Cuaron won for Gravity two years ago. In fact, the last American to win Best Director was Kathryn Bigelow in 2009 for The Hurt Locker.
5. MICHAEL KEATON
Keaton stars in the Best Picture every year — Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) last year and now Spotlight.
His reaction: “Fuck yeah.”
A Best Picture winner with staying power. I think.
Here are some winners from the past 30 years that don’t stand the test of time: Driving Miss Daisy, Dances with Wolves, Forrest Gump, The English Patient, Shakespeare in Love, American Beauty, Crash, Slumdog Millionaire, The King’s Speech and The Artist.