LOS ANGELES (AP):
Mexican-born Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's Birdman captured Hollywood's top honour at the Academy Awards, held in Los Angeles on Sunday. The jazzy, surreal comedy about an actor fleeing his superhero past won Best Picture.
The 87th annual Academy Awards - which came in humbled by backlash to its all-white acting nominees - bristled with politics and heartfelt speeches about women's rights, immigration, suicide prevention and race.
Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) also won Best Director for Inarritu, as well Best Original Screenplay and Best Cinematography.
"Maybe next year, the government will inflict immigration restrictions," said Inarritu, recalling last year's best director winner, Alfonso Cuaron. "Two Mexicans in a row. That's suspicious, I guess."
Inarritu, a larger-than-life figure of frizzy hair, regularly wrapped in a scarf, concluded the night's many moving speeches that called for societal progress. Inarritu said he prays his native country finds "a government we deserve" and that immigrants to the United States "can be treated with the same dignity and the respect of the ones who came before and (built) this incredible immigrant nation".
The black-and-white Polish film Ida took Best Foreign Language Film, marking the first such win for Poland despite a rich cinema history. Director Pawel Pawlikowski charmed the audience with a bemused acceptance speech that ran drastically over his allotted time.
Pawlikowski remarked at the irony of having made a quiet, ruminative film "and here we are at the epicentre of noise and attention. It's fantastic. Life is full of surprises".
The ceremony at the Dolby Theatre, hosted by Tony Award veteran Neil Patrick Harris, was heavy on song and dance. Lady Gaga lavishly performed The Hills Are Alive from The Sound of Music, with a rapt Julie Andrews looking on.
The awards overwhelmingly went to less-seen independent films and were widely spread around. All eight of the Best Picture nominees won awards, including Britain's Eddie Redmayne taking Best Actor for his technically nuanced performance as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything.
The Edward Snowden documentary Citizenfour, in which Laura Poitras captured Snowden in the midst of leaking National Security Agency (NSA) documents, won Best Documentary.
"The disclosures that Edward Snowden reveals don't only expose a threat to our privacy, but to our democracy itself," said Poitras in accepting the Oscar. "When the most important decisions being made affecting all of us are made in secret, we lose our ability to check the powers that control."
All of Sunday's big winners were first-timers, including Best Actress winner Julianne Moore, who won for her performance as an academic with early onset Alzheimer's in Still Alice.
Harris gave the Academy Awards a cheery tone that sought to celebrate Hollywood, while also slyly parodying it. "Tonight we honour Hollywood's best and whitest - I mean brightest," he began the night, alluding to this year's all-white acting nominees.
Though Richard Linklater's 12-years-in-making Boyhood was the critical favorite for much of awards season, it won only Best Supporting Actress for Arquette.
Tears streamed down the face of David Oyelowo, who played the Rev Martin Luther King Jr in Selma and was infamously left out of the Best Actor nominees, during the rousing performance of the song Glory from the film. Immediately afterwards, Common and John Legend accepted the Best Song Oscar with a speech that drew a standing ovation.
"We say that Selma is now, because the struggle for justice is right now," said Legend of the period film. "We know that the voting rights act that they fought for 50 years ago is being compromised right now in this country today. We know that, right now, the struggle for freedom and justices where we live in the most incarcerated country in the world."
Graham Moore also moved the star-studded audience in his acceptance speech for Best Adapted Screenplay for his The Imitation Game script. Moore said when he was 16 years old, he tried to kill himself. "Stay weird, stay different," he implored.