Chris Rock declares Hollywood 'racist' at 88th Oscars awards


Oscars host Chris Rock opened the 88th Academy Awards by declaring Hollywood is "racist" and admitting he considered boycotting the ceremony because of the absence of black acting nominees.

The comedian, who welcomed the audience in the Dolby Theatre to the "white People's Choice Awards", 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 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."

He also called for black actors to receive the same opportunities as white actors, saying: "It's not about boycotting anything, we want opportunities.

"We want to get the same opportunities and not just once. Leo (DiCaprio) gets a great part every year, people get great parts all the time."

Alicia Vikander won the first big award of the night, picking up the best supporting actress Oscar for her role in The Danish Girl.

The Swedish-born actress, who stars alongside Eddie Redmayne in the film, said: "Eddie, thank you for being the best acting partner.

"I could never have done it without you."

The first British success went to Jenny Beavan, who won best costume design Oscar for Mad Max: Fury Road.

Ms Beavan, who was famously described as a 'bag lady' by Stephen Fry at the Baftas, said: "I want to say one quite serious thing, but it could be horribly prophetic, Mad Max, if we are not kinder to each other and if we don't stop polluting our atmosphere."

Mad Max: Fury Road also won the Oscar for best production design and a clutch of other technical awards.

The first Oscar of the evening went to Spotlight, the story of how the Boston Globe newspaper exposed abuse by Roman Catholic clergy. The film picked up the best original screenplay gong, which was collected by co-writers Tom McCarthy, who also directed the film, and Josh Singer.

The Oscar for best adapted screenplay went to The Big Short, a film about greed and the collapse of the housing market. It was collected by Adam McKay, who also directed the film, and his writing partner Charles Randolph.

Speaking backstage, McCarthy said: "It's electric, it's really exciting. With a project like this, you don't think about awards. It's truly thrilling and rewarding."

When an electrical extension cord fell down from the ceiling above their heads as they spoke to reporters, McCarthy quipped: "That was the Catholic Church."

Actress Sarah Silverman introduced British singer Sam Smith, who performed his hit Writing's On The Wall, from the latest James Bond movie, Spectre.

Silverman joked about Bond, saying: "I don't want to say he's terrible at sex, but he did sleep with 55 women in 24 movies and most of them tried to kill him afterwards."

Backstage, The Big Short writer McKay urged people not to vote for candidates that take money from "banks, big oil and weirdo billionaires" in the upcoming American election, but said he didn't have someone in mind.

He added: "This is a right-left movie, big money is taking over our government."