Catholic Church abuse movie "Spotlight" was named best picture, the top award at Sunday's Oscars ceremony, after a night peppered with pointed punchlines from host Chris Rock about the #OscarsSoWhite controversy that has dominated the industry.
In a ceremony where no single movie commanded attention, Mexico's Alejandro Inarritu nabbed the best directing Oscar for "The Revenant", becoming the first filmmaker in more than 60 years to win back-to-back Academy Awards. Inarritu won in 2015 for "Birdman."
"The Revenant" went into Sunday's ceremony with a leading 12 nominations, and was among four movies believed to have the best chances for best picture after it won Golden Globe and BAFTA trophies.
The ambitious 20th Century Fox (FOXA.O) Pioneer-era tale, shot in sub-zero temperatures, also brought a first Oscar win for its star Leonardo DiCaprio, who got a standing ovation from the A-list Hollywood audience.
"I do not take tonight for granted," DiCaprio said, taking the opportunity in his acceptance speech to urge action on climate change.
Yet voters in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences chose Open Road Films' (RGC.N) "Spotlight," which traces the Boston Globe's 2003 Pulitzer Prize winning investigation of child sex abuse by Catholic priests, for best picture. The movie also won best original screenplay.
"This film gave a voice to survivors, and this Oscar amplifies that voice, which we hope can become a choir that will resonate all the way to the Vatican," said producer Michael Sugar.
Rising star Brie Larson, 26, took home the statuette for best actress for her role as an abducted young woman in indie movie "Room," adding to her armful of trophies from other award shows.
Racial themes and barbs about the selection of an all-white acting nominee line-up for a second year were a running theme of the show, dubbed "the white People's Choice awards" by Rock, an outspoken black comedian.
He questioned why the furor over diversity in the industry had taken root this year, rather than in the 1950s or 1960s, saying that black Americans had "real things to protest at the time."
"We were too busy being raped and lynched to care about who won best cinematographer," Rock added. In a taped section, Rock visited the Los Angeles neighborhood of Compton - the heart of the hip-hop music industry - to ask residents if they had heard or seen the Oscar-nominated movies. None had.
Several nominees gave Rock a thumbs-up for striking the right balance on a tricky theme.