He beat the likes of British star Eddie Redmayne, Bryan Cranston, Matt Damon, and Michael Fassbender to take home the award for his role in The Revenant at the 88th Academy Awards.
The actor was first nominated for an Oscar 23 years ago in a supporting role, and has since been nominated four more times for acting, including this year, but had never won until now.
DiCaprio thanked the movie’s director and his co-star Tom Hardy, saying “your fierce talent on screen can only be surpassed by your friendship off screen”.
The 41-year-old used his last few minutes on stage to campaign for climate change: “It is happening right now. It is the most urgent threat facing our species, and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating.”
He urged the audience to “support leaders around the world who do not speak for the big polluters or the big corporations but who speak for all of humanity, for the indigenous people of the world, for the billions and billions of underprivileged people who’ll be affected by this”. He concluded: “Let us not take this planet for granted, I do not take this night for granted. Thank you so very much.”
Best picture went to Spotlight, which tells the story of how the Boston Globe exposed abuse by Roman Catholic clergy.
Brie Larson was named best actress in a leading role for her part in Room, adapted by Irish writer Emma Donoghue from her book — and ended her speech thanking “the fans, the moviegoers, thank you for going to the theatre and seeing our films, I appreciate it, thank you”.
Mad Max: Fury Road earned the biggest haul, taking home six Oscars, followed by The Revenant with three and Spotlight’s two.
Singer Sam Smith picked up the best original song and dedicated his award to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community.
Smith co-wrote the song ‘Writing’s On The Wall’ with fellow Brit Jimmy Napes for the latest James Bond movie, Spectre. He follows in the footsteps of Adele, who won the Oscar in 2013 for the Bond instalment Skyfall.
An emotional Smith took to the stage with Napes and said: “I want to dedicate this to the LGBT community all around the world. I stand here tonight as a proud gay man and I hope we can all stand together as equals one day.”
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. 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 the controversy over police shootings of black suspects in the US.
Chris Rock rocks the boat at Oscars
US comedian Chris Rock opened the Academy Awards with a monologue that poked fun at the diversity controversy which has marred this year’s ceremony.
He began: “I’m here at the Academy Awards, otherwise known as the white People’s Choice Awards. You realise, if they nominated hosts I wouldn’t even get this job. You’d be watching Neil Patrick Harris right now.”
Addressing why this year had attracted so much criticism, he said: “Now the thing is, while we’re protesting, the big questions is why this Oscars, why this Oscars? It’s the 88th Academy Awards, which means this whole no- black-nominees thing has happened at least 71 other times.
“You’ve got to figure, it happened in the ‘50s and ’60s, you know the ‘60s, one of those years Sidney (Poitier) didn’t put out a movie. I’m sure there was no black nominees this year, say ‘62, ‘63, and black people did not protest. Why? Because we had real things to protest at the time.
“We had real things to protest, we were too busy being raped and lynched to care about who won best cinematographer. When your grandmother’s swinging from a tree, it’s really hard to care about best documentary foreign short.
“What happened this year, people went mad. Spike got mad. Jada went mad and Will went mad. Everyone went mad. Jada got mad, Jada said she’s not coming, protesting. I’m like, isn’t she on a TV show? Jada’s going to boycott the Oscar? Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna’s panties. I wasn’t invited. Oh, that’s not an invitation I would turn down.
“But I’m not hating, I understand you’re mad. Jada’s mad: her man Will was not nominated for ‘Concussion’, I get it. It’s not mad that Will was this good and didn’t get nominated. It’s also not fair that Will was paid €20m for ‘Wild Wild West’.”
He continued: “This year things are going to be a little different at the Oscars. This year in the ‘In Memoriam’ it’s just going to be black people who were shot by the cops on their way to the movies. Yes, I said it.”
Addressing whether Hollywood was racist, he said: “You’re damn right Hollywood’s racist, but you’ve grown accustomed to it. Hollywood is sorority racist. It’s like, ‘We like you Rhonda, but you’re not a Kappa’. That’s Hollywood.”