In an Academy Awards ceremony tainted by controversy over its all-white actors nominees, Latinos shined bright during Hollywood’s biggest night — making history multiple times for their work behind the camera.
Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu won his second consecutive directing award for “The Revenant,” after last year’s “Birdman.” With Alfonso Cuarón winning in 2014 for “Gravity,” it was the third straight year a Mexican filmmaker got the best director nod.
It was also the fourth Oscar and seventh nomination for Iñárritu.
He gave an impassioned address, urging the industry to see past the surface and make the color of someone’s skin irrelevant.
“It’s amazing to be receiving this award tonight,” Iñárritu began. “What a great opportunity for our generation to really liberate ourselves from all prejudice and this tribal thinking and to make sure for once and forever that the color our skin becomes as irrelevant as the length of our hair.”
Iñárritu's back-to-back feat has been matched by only two other filmmakers in the past: John Ford and Joseph L. Mankiewicz.
Iñárritu’s longtime friend and collaborator, cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, added his name to the history books after taking home third consecutive Academy Award for his brilliant work on the frontier epic, “The Revenant.” It’s the first time any cinematographer has achieved such a feat.
Lubezki, who is affectionately known as “Chivo,” previously won for his work in “Gravity” and “Birdman.”
“Revenant,” the odds-on favorite to win best picture, lost out to Tom McCarthy’s newspaper drama, “Spotlight,” about the Boston Globe's investigative reporting on sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests.
The country of Chile received its first-ever Oscar when filmmakers Gabriel Osorio and Pato Escala won the award for best animated short film for “Bear Story.”
“We are from a small country called Chile. This is the first time we have won an Oscar – this is very important to us,” Escala said during his acceptance speech. “Un gran abrazo para todos (“A big hug for everyone”). Viva, Chile!”
Osorio dedicated the win to his grandfather, the inspiration for the short film’s story.
The host, comedian Chris Rock, made frequent mention of the uproar over the lack of diversity in this year’s acting nominees.
With boycotts of the telecast and a protest outside the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood led by the Rev. Al Sharpton, Rock began by calling the Oscars the "White People's Choice Awards," and he remained on the topic throughout the evening with some well-timed zingers about the second straight year of all-white acting nominees.
“Is Hollywood racist? You’re damn right it’s racist,” he said during his much anticipated monologue. “Hollywood is sorority racist. It’s like: We like you Rhonda, but you’re not a Kappa.”
While many praised Rock for pleading for more opportunities for black actors, some Latino leaders slammed the host for failing to bring up other minorities that were also not nominated in this year’s acting categories.
“Is it me, or have we taken 10 steps backwards when it comes to Latinos and Hollywood? Now we are invisible in thought and presence. #Oscars,” tweeted Felix Sanchez, co-founder and CEO of the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts.
Responding to the controversy before the show, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, president of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, instituted reforms meant to diversify the academy's overwhelming white and male membership. But those changes (which included stripping older, out-of-work members of their voting privileges) precipitated a backlash, as well.
In remarks during the show by the president — usually one of the sleepiest moments in the broadcast — Boone Isaacs strongly defended the changes, quoting Martin Luther King Jr. and urging each Oscar attendee to bring greater opportunity to the industry.
She was received politely, if not enthusiastically, by the audience.
"It's not enough to listen and agree," said Boone Isaacs. "We must take action.”
The night's most-awarded film, however, was neither "Spotlight" nor "The Revenant." George Miller's post-apocalyptic chase film, "Mad Max: Fury Road" sped away with six awards in technical categories for editing, makeup, production design, sound editing, sound mixing and costume design.
"Us Mad Maxes are doing OK tonight," said editor Margaret Sixel, who's married to Miller. The flurry of wins brought a parade of Australian craftsmen onstage in an Oscars that was at least internationally, if not racially, diverse.
Best actress went to Brie Larson, the 26-year-old breakout star of the mother-son captive drama "Room." The Swedish-born Alicia Vikander took best supporting actress for the transgender pioneer tale "The Danish Girl."
Gasps could be heard in the Dolby Theater when Mark Rylance won best supporting actor over Sylvester Stallone. Nominated a second time for role of Rocky Balboa 39 years after the first film in the boxing franchise, Stallone had been the favorite to win his first acting Oscar for the "Rocky" sequel, "Creed."
Instead, the notable stage actor Rylance, who co-starred in Steven Spielberg's "Bridge of Spies," took home the statuette.
Adam McKay and Charles Randolph took the best adapted screenplay for their self-described "trauma-dy" about the mortgage meltdown of 2008. Best known for broader comedies like "Anchorman" and "Step Brothers," McKay in his acceptance speech gave an election-year warning about the power of "big money" and "weirdo billionaires" in the presidential campaign.
Sam Smith and songwriting partner Jimmy Napes picked up the Academy Award for best song for "Writing's on the Wall," from the James Bond film "Spectre."
"I stand here tonight as a proud gay man, and I hope we can all stand together as equals one day," said Smith.
Lucia I. Suarez Sang is a US/World News Editor/Writer for FoxNews.com.
She can be reached at email@example.com.
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