LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Sam Rockwell and Allison Janney won supporting actor Oscars, while Academy Awards host Jimmy Kimmel dove into Hollywood's most embarrassing moments - sexual misconduct and last year's best picture blunder.
Rockwell, the front-runner for the Academy Award, took home the trophy for his role as a racist, dim-witted police officer in Fox Searchlight dark comedy Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Janney, as widely expected, was named best supporting actress for her performance as a domineering mother in ice-skating movie I, Tonya.
A Fantastic Woman, Chile's groundbreaking story about a transgender woman, played by transgender actress Daniela Vega, won best foreign language film. Coco, the colourful adventure into the land of the dead from Walt Disney Co's Pixar Animation Studios, won best animated feature film.
Opening the show before an A-list audience of actors and filmmakers, many of whom have reported being victims of sexual harassment, Kimmel pulled no punches about the elephant in the room.
Noting that it was the 90th year of the ceremony, Kimmel said the tall golden Oscar statue itself was "the most beloved and respected man in Hollywood." "He keeps his hands where you can see them, he never says a rude word and most importantly he has no penis at all. He is literally a statue of limitations. That's the kind of man we need more of," Kimmel quipped.
The sexual misconduct scandal has led to the downfall of dozens of once-powerful men in Hollywood and beyond, and has overshadowed the movie industry's awards season celebrations.
Referring to Fox Searchlight's 13-time Oscar-nominated fantasy romance The Shape Of Water, in which a cleaning lady falls in love with a mysterious river creature, Kimmel joked: "We will always remember this year as the year men screwed up so badly that women started dating fish."
Kimmel also turned last year's embarrassing envelope mix-up over the best picture winner into a running joke, warning this year's nominees, "This year when you hear your name called, don't get up right away!."
Sunday's best picture Oscar - presented at the end of the three-and-a-half-hour show - is seen as a close race between The Shape Of Water, Three Billboards and Universal Pictures racial satire Get Out.
Three Billboards, the tale of an angry woman seeking justice for her daughter's killer, scooped multiple honours earlier this year, but Get Out, a bold horror movie that became a talking point around modern-day race relations in America, appears to have gained momentum in the last two weeks, awards pundits say .
Peele could become the first black man in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' history to win a directing Oscar, while Lady Bird director Greta Gerwig could be only the second female to take home that prize.
In the lead acting races, Frances McDormand is heavily favoured to win for Three Billboards and British actor Gary Oldman's performance as wartime leader Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour is widely expected to bring his first Oscar.