Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman cleans up with four Oscars at Academy Awards

The Grand Budapest Hotel and Whiplash closely follow Birdman in the awards stakes.

The cast and crew of Birdman, with Michael Keaton at the mic and the director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu to his right, accept the award for Best Picture at the Oscars on Sunday, February 22, 2015, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. John Shearer / Invision / AP Photo
Powered by automated translation

Alejandro González Iñárritu’s film was Sunday’s big Oscars winner, with The Grand Budapest Hotel and Whiplash close behind

The dark comedy Birdman took four Academy Awards on Sunday night, including Best Picture and Best ­Director honours on Hollywood's biggest night.

The film, a satire about a washed-up superhero film actor battling to revive his career on Broadway, was a grand triumph for the Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu, who himself won three of the four golden statuettes.

The stylish crime caper The Grand Budapest Hotel also won four Oscars, mostly in technical categories, while the jazz drumming drama Whiplash scored three, including Best Supporting Actor for the veteran actor J K Simmons.

The Best Actor award went to Britain's Eddie Redmayne as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything, while the veteran Julianne Moore took Best Actress as a professor suffering from early onset Alzheimer's disease in Still Alice.

Iñárritu, the second Mexican in a row to take the Best Director Oscar after Alfonso Cuarón won last year for Gravity, dedicated his award to his fellow ­countrymen.

Talking about Mexican immigrants into the United States, he said: “I just pray that they can be treated with the same dignity and respect as the ones who came before and built this incredible immigrant nation.”

The coming-of-age drama Boyhood, which had been going head-to-head for the Best Picture race, perhaps suffered the biggest disappointment, with only one Oscar out of six nominations – Best Supporting Actress for ­Patricia Arquette.

Disney's Big Hero 6 was named Best Animated Feature, while ­Poland's Ida took the Best Foreign Language Film prize.

The host Neil Patrick Harris launched the three-and-a-half hour show with a song and dance routine about the movie industry itself – including a joke about the lack of any non-white actors in the four acting categories.

“Tonight, we honour Hollywood’s best and whitest ... sorry, brightest,” he said, earning laughs from the star-studded audience at the Dolby Theatre.

Arquette hit a political note in accepting her prize, giving a shoutout to “every woman who gave birth to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation”.

The biggest standing ovation of the night honoured Selma, about the civil-rights icon Martin Luther King Jr.

The film, while nominated for Best Picture, controversially failed to secure nods for the British actor David Oyelowo and its director Ava DuVernay. In the end, it won for Best Original Song for the rousing Glory – and the A-list audience rose to its feet after John Legend and Common performed it.

Oyelowo could be seen with tears pouring down his face.

“We live in the most incarcerated country in the world,” Legend said as he accepted his Oscar.

“There are more black men under correctional control today than there were under slavery in 1850.”

A star-studded cast of presenters took the stage, including Ben Affleck, Scarlett Johansson, Nicole Kidman, Eddie Murphy, Liam Neeson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Meryl Streep and Oprah Winfrey.

Among the funniest moments of the night was when Harris appeared on stage in just his underwear, at the end of a backstage skit mimicking a scene from Birdman.

Lady Gaga almost brought the house down with a soaring medley of songs from The Sound of Music to mark the classic's 50th anniversary – before welcoming the film's star Julie Andrews onto the stage.