The Shape of Water, about a woman who falls in love with a sea creature, has taken the top honours at the Oscars.
Frances McDormand won best actress for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. She persuaded every female nominee to stand with her in a night full of statements about inclusion.
Shape of Water won the most Oscars with four, including best film and director.
Britain’s Gary Oldman was named best actor for playing Winston Churchill in World War Two epic Darkest Hour.
Putting her Oscar on the floor in front of her, McDormand addressed executives at the ceremony in one of the most powerful and symbolic moments of the night.
“Look around, ladies and gentlemen, because we all have stories to tell and projects we need financed,” she said.
“Don’t talk to us about it at the parties tonight – invite us into your office in a couple of days, or you can come to ours, whatever suits you best – and we’ll tell you all about them.”
Her request, made during her acceptance speech, came amid a push for greater equality in film – especially in the wake of the Hollywood sexual harassment scandal.
She finished her speech with the words: “I have two words to leave you with tonight – inclusion rider.”
What was Frances McDormand’s ‘inclusion rider’ comment about?
Backstage, she explained that an inclusion rider is a clause that actors can put in their contracts to insist on at least 50% diversity in the film’s cast and crew.
“We’re not going back,” she said in the winners’ room.
“This whole idea of women trending? No. No trending. African Americans trending? No. No trending. It changes now, and I think the inclusion rider will have something to do with that.”
McDormand, who received a rousing reception for her best actress win, played a vengeance-seeking mother who is let down by the authorities after her daughter is raped and murdered.
It’s her second Oscar, 21 years after her first for Fargo.
It’s Oldman’s first Oscar. He mentioned his 98-year-old mother, among other people, in his acceptance speech, telling her: “Thank you for your love and support. Put the kettle on. I’m bringing Oscar home.”
The Shape of Water, directed by Mexico’s Guillermo del Toro and starring British actress Sally Hawkins as a mute cleaning lady who has a relationship with a mysterious river-dwelling creature, had led the Oscar race with 13 nominations.
The winners in numbers:
- The Shape of Water – 4
- Dunkirk – 3
- Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – 2
- Darkest Hour – 2
- Blade Runner 2049 – 2
- Coco – 2
The best picture contest had been wide open – Three Billboards had also been hotly tipped, while Get Out, a savage satire on hidden liberal racism, had a wave of late support.
In Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out also had a British actor in the lead role. It won one prize on the night – best original screenplay for its writer-director Jordan Peele.
Other British winners included former Hollyoaks actors Rachel Shenton and Chris Overton, who won best live action short film for The Silent Child, starring six-year-old Maisie Sly from Swindon.
Other notable winners included:
- Allison Janney, hitherto best known for The West Wing, won best supporting actress for I, Tonya
- Sam Rockwell was named best supporting actor for playing a racist policeman in Three Billboards
- James Ivory, the director and writer of Merchant Ivory fame, won best adapted screenplay for Call Me By Your Name. At 89, he was born before the first Academy Awards took place
- Chile’s A Fantastic Woman, with an acclaimed central performance by transgender actress Daniela Vega, was named best foreign language film
- Basketball superstar Kobe Bryant won best animated short for Dear Basketball – a retirement letter he wrote to the sport, which he paid veteran Disney artist Glen Keane to animate
- British cinematographer Roger Deakins finally won an Oscar at the 14th attempt for Blade Runner 2049