LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Brad Pitt capped a Hollywood comeback on Sunday by winning his first Oscar for acting and taking a dig at Senate Republicans.
Pitt, 56, was named best supporting actor for playing a charming stunt double in “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” after having collected an armful of trophies earlier this year for the role.
“I’m a bit gobsmacked to tell you the truth,” said Pitt, who recalled his early days starting out as an unknown actor.
“‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ – ain’t that the truth?,” he said, dedicating the Academy Award to his six children with former wife Angelina Jolie.
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Pitt also referenced the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump in the Senate.
“They told me I only have 45 seconds up here, which is 45 seconds more than the Senate gave John Bolton this week. I’m thinking maybe Quentin does a movie about it. In the end, the adults do the right thing,” he said.
Pitt has been a vocal critic of the president in the past.
Trump was acquitted as expected in his impeachment trial by the Senate on Wednesday.
#OscarsSoWhite controversy continues
The show, held without a formal host for a second year, started with a song and dance medley led by singers Janelle Monae and Billy Porter, and a surprise appearance by former hosts Steve Martin and Chris Rock.
Martin and Rock delivered a string of barbed jokes about the lack of female directors and people of color among this year’s nominees.
“I thought there was something missing this year,” said Martin.
“Vaginas?” quipped Rock, to loud applause.
Rock pointed out Cynthia Erivo, who played slavery-era freedom fighter Harriet Tubman in “Harriet” and who was the only actor of color nominated this year.
“Cynthia did such a great job hiding black people that the academy got her to hide all the black nominees,” said Rock.
#Oscars Moment: The presenter duo we never knew we needed. @SteveMartinToGo and @chrisrock pic.twitter.com/9rF349pCwA
— The Academy (@TheAcademy) February 10, 2020
Earlier on Sunday, heavy rain and chilly temperatures marred the start of Hollywood’s biggest night, sending workers scurrying to hold off leaks on the tented red carpet.
The coveted best picture prize, to be announced at the end of the three-hour show, is thought to be a three-way race between “Parasite,” British director Sam Mendes’ immersive World War One movie “1917” from Universal Pictures, and “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” Quentin Tarantino’s love letter to show business, from Sony Pictures.
Dark comic book movie “Joker” from Warner Bros, which has a leading 11 nominations, Netflix divorce drama “Marriage Story” and the streaming service’s mob epic “The Irishman,” race-car drama “Ford v Ferrari” from 20th Century Studios, and novel adaptation “Little Women” from Sony Pictures, round out the competition for the top prize.
The winners are chosen by the 8,000 members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Netflix boosted its Hollywood credentials by getting a leading 24 nominations this year, including for drama “The Two Popes,” animated movie “Klaus,” and documentary “American Factory.” But the coveted best picture Oscar may elude it yet again on Sunday, awards watchers say.
Joaquin Phoenix is the favorite to win his first Oscar for a disturbing performance as a loner clown who turns to violence in “Joker,” while Renee Zellweger is expected to be named best actress for “Judy.”
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(Reporting by Jill Serjeant. Additional reporting by Maria Caspani, Lisa Richwine and Nichola Groom; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Sandra Maler. Pluralist contributed to this report.)