Los Angeles: "The Shape of Water", a fantasy drama about a mute cleaning lady who falls for a sea creature, turned out to be the big winner at the politically-charged 90th Academy Awards, bagging four trophies, including Best Picture and Best Director for Guillermo del Toro.
In a tight best picture race, the inter-species romance triumphed over award season favourites "Get Out" and "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri". The film also won Best Original Score for Alexandre Desplat and Best Production Design.
Del Toro's double win as director and producer once again underscored the domination of Mexican filmmakers at the Academy Awards. His win is the fourth time a Mexican has taken home the prize in the last five years, after Alfonso Cuaron won in 2014 for "Gravity" and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu in 2015 and 2016 for "The Birdman" and "The Revenant".
Del Toro acknowledged as much in his acceptance speech while taking a potshot at President Donald Trump's comments about building a wall between Mexico and the US.
"I am an immigrant like Alfonso and Alejandro, my compadres. Like Gael (Garcia Bernal), like Salma (Hayek) and like many, many of you...
"Because I think that the greatest thing our art does and our industry does is to erase the lines in the sand. We should continue doing that when the world tells us to make them deeper," he said.
The activism of the post-Harvey Weinstein era, which led to celebrities making a statement through wearing black or "Time's Up" pins at award shows this season, shifted to the Oscar stage on Sunday. Host Jimmy Kimmel, returning for the second time, as well as winners and presenters addressed the seismic shift in Hollywood's race and gender politics.
Best Actress winner Frances McDormand, who bagged the award for "Three Billboards...", emphasised the need for good roles for women and asked "all the female nominees in every category" to stand with her in the room with a special shout-out to fellow nominee Meryl Streep.
"Okay, look around everybody. Look around, ladies and gentlemen, because we all have stories to tell and projects we need financed."
"I have two words to leave with you tonight, ladies and gentlemen: inclusion rider," she said.
She explained backstage that while negotiating a contract one can demand an "inclusion rider which means that you can ask for and/or demand at least 50 percent diversity in not only the casting, but also the crew".
In a break from tradition, the Best Actress award was given not by last year's Best Actor winner Casey Affleck but Jennifer Lawrence and Jodie Foster. Old timers Jane Fonda and Helen Mirren teamed up to present the Best Actor award.
Kimmel kept his hosting light and fun-filled except for the opening monologue where he targeted disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, while lauding the Time's Up and Me Too movements.
"What happened with Harvey and what's happening all over was long overdue. We can't let bad behaviour slide away. The world is watching us and we need to set an example here. And the truth that if we are successful here, we can work together to stop sexual harassment at workplace," he said.
Gary Oldman won the Best Actor Oscar for drastically transforming himself to play Winston Churchill in "Darkest Hour". The Joe Wright-directed period drama also won the Make Up and Hairstyling Oscar.
The Best Supporting Actor went to McDormand's co-star Sam Rockwell for his role of a racist-yet-redeemable cop in "Three Billboards...".
Allison Janney bagged the Best Supporting Actress for playing an unforgiving mother in "I, Tonya".
Though there was visible support for women-led stories, Greta Gerwig missed out in the Best Director and Best Original Screenplay categories for her critically-lauded "Lady Bird". Steven Spielberg's "The Post" also had to leave empty-handed.
In one of the biggest surprises, Jordan Peele became the first black screenwriter ever to win the Best Original Screenplay Oscar for "Get Out".
The Best Adapted Screenplay winner James Ivory also made it to the record books by becoming the oldest Oscar winner at the age of 89 for his adaptation of the gay coming-of-age romance "Call Me By Your Name".
"Coco", Pixar's Mexico-set drama about an aspiring musician Miguel, won Oscars for the Best Animation Feature Film and Best Original Song for 'Remember Me'.
Chilean film "A Fantastic Woman" was named Best Foreign Language film, triumphing over front-runner "The Square" (Sweden).
Christopher Nolans war epic "Dunkirk" won three awards for Film Editing, Sound Mixing and Sound Editing, Paul Thomas Andersons "Phantom Thread" won in the Costume Design category.
"Blade Runner 2049" was recognised for Cinematography and Visual Effects.
"Icarus" was adjudged the Best Documentary Feature while "Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405" won in the Documentary Short category.
Animated Short Film Oscar went to Kobe Bryant's "Dear Basketball". Live Action Short Film went to "The Silent Child".
Last year's "envelopegate" -- when "La La Land" was wrongly announced as Best Picture and the award actually went to "Moonlight" -- loomed large over the evening.
"Some of you will be going home tonight with an Academy Award. This year, when you hear your name called, don't get up right away," Kimmel said.
Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, at the centre of last year's goof-up, returned to present the Best Picture award.
"It is so nice seeing you again," Beatty joked.