“Spotlight” pulled off an upset at the Oscars, winning Best Picture against frontrunner “The Revenant” and another strong competitor, “The Big Short.” The film told the true story of the team of journalists who uncovered the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal in Boston and throughout the world. It also won Best Original Screenplay, which makes it the first film since “The Greatest Show on Earth” (1952) to win Best Picture with only one other victory. (Click here for the complete list of Oscar winners.)
But “The Revenant” did pick up three awards: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu claimed Best Director for the second year in a row (he won last year for “Birdman“), and Leonardo DiCaprio finally won his overdue first Best Actor honors. Below the line, the film won Best Cinematography for Emmanuel Lubezki for an unprecedented third year in a row.
However, “Mad Max: Fury Road” was the biggest winner at the event, raking in a total of six awards, all in technical and craft categories: Best Costume Design, Best Production Design, Best Makeup and Hairstyling, Best Film Editing, Best Sound Mixing and Best Sound Editing.
As expected, Brie Larson was named Best Actress for her role as a kidnapped young woman trying to escape captivity in “Room.” Before the Oscars she swept through the awards season, claiming Golden Globe, Critics’ Choice, SAG, BAFTA and Independent Spirit Awards.
But Best Supporting Actor took us by surprise. Mark Rylance won for his role as a captured Russian operative in “Bridge of Spies,” beating frontrunner Sylvester Stallone (“Creed“). Rylance is only the second actor ever to win an Oscar for a Steven Spielberg film. The first was Daniel Day-Lewis for “Lincoln” (2012).
Sam Smith also surprised Oscar-watchers. “Writing’s on the Wall,” his theme from the James Bond film “Spectre,” won Best Original Song, defeating Lady Gaga and eight-time Oscar-nominee Diane Warren‘s “Til It Happens to You” from the documentary “The Hunting Ground.”
In the often unpredictable short film races, “Bear Story” upset Pixar’s “Sanjay’s Super Team” for the animation prize. The documentary race also had an unexpected result: “A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness” prevailed over favorite “Body Team 12.” And live-action short “Stutterer” defeated frontrunner “Ave Maria.”