DiCaprio wins at last as Rock rolls out the barbs.
Byline: Michaela Wood Reporter
LEONARDO DiCaprio ended years of disappointment while Spotlight was the surprise winner of best picture on an Oscars night dominated by the diversity controversy.
DiCaprio beat Eddie Redmayne, Bryan Cranston, Matt Damon and Michael Fassbender to take home the best actor gong for his role in The Revenant at the 88th Academy Awards.
The star was first nominated for an Oscar 23 years ago in a supporting role, and has since been nominated four more times for acting, but had never won until now.
Newspaper drama Spotlight was the underdog in the best picture category but was triumphant in beating favourite The Revenant to the coveted award.
Thought of as the top honour handed out by the Academy, Spotlight was not widely expected to win best picture and the film won only one other award on the night, taking the gong for best original screenplay.
Spotlight is about the Boston Globe's investigative reporting on sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests.
The film, which was nominated for six Oscars, looks at the scandal in Boston, and the collusion and reluctance of the local community to face up to it.
British star Mark Rylance scooped a surprise victory when he was named best supporting actor for his role in Bridge Of Spies, beating favourite Sylvester Stallone, Mark Ruffalo and fellow Britons Christian Bale and Tom Hardy.
Other notable British successes included Amy, the British-made film about the late Amy Winehouse, which won the Oscar for best documentary feature film, and Jenny Beavan, who won best costume design Oscar for Mad Max: Fury Road.
British singer Sam Smith picked up the best original song Oscar and dedicated his award to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community.
Smith co-wrote the song Writing's On The Wall with fellow Briton Jimmy Napes for the latest James Bond movie, Spectre. He follows in the footsteps of Adele, who won the Oscar in 2013 for Skyfall.
Host Chris Rock did not shy away from the diversity issues plaguing this year's awards and opened the ceremony by declaring Hollywood is "racist" and admitting he considered boycotting the ceremony because of the absence of black nominees.
He cracked a series of jokes about the race issue and added the controversy over police shootings of black suspects in the US to his targets.
He said: "Everyone wants to know is Hollywood racist? You have to go at it the right way. Is it burning-cross racist? Fetch-me-some-lemonade racist? No. It's a different kind of racist. Is Hollywood racist? You're damn right it's racist but it's sorority racist."
He added: "That's how Hollywood is but things are changing."
Rock - who was widely praised for his performance - ended the ceremony saying the night had been an "amazing experience."
Fashion: Pages 32&33 MAIN WINNERS Best picture: Spotlight Best actor in a leading role: Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant) Best actress in a leading role: Brie Larson (Room) Best actor in a supporting role: Mark Rylance (Bridge Of Spies) Best actress in a supporting role: Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina) Best director: Alejandro G Inarritu (The Revenant)
Oscar winners Mark Rylance, Brie Larson, Leonardo DiCaprio and actress Alicia Vikander