“Son of Saul,” the Hungarian Holocaust drama from first-time feature director Laszlo Nemes, won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
The film, which was partly financed by the Claims Conference, claimed the prize at the annual Oscar ceremony Sunday night in Los Angeles.
The win is the second straight for a Holocaust film in the category. In 2015, the Polish film “Ida,” about a young soon-to-be nun who learns her parents were Jews killed during the war, took home the best foreign film Oscar.
Set in Auschwitz in 1944, “Son of Saul” tells the story of Saul Auslander, a Jewish inmate forced to escort his fellow prisoners to the gas chambers and help to dispose of their remains. The title role is played by Geza Rohrig, a Hungarian poet and observant Jew who now lives in New York.
The film was heavily favored to win on Sunday, having already claimed the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival in May and the Golden Globe for best foreign film in January. On Saturday, it won the prize for best international film at the Independent Spirit Awards in Los Angeles.
Catholic Church abuse movie "Spotlight" was named best picture, the top award at Sunday's Oscars ceremony, after a night peppered with pointed punchlines from host Chris Rock about the #OscarsSoWhite controversy that has dominated the industry.
In a ceremony where no single movie commanded attention, Mexico's Alejandro Inarritu nabbed the best directing Oscar for "The Revenant," becoming the first filmmaker in more than 60 years to win back-to-back Academy Awards. Inarritu won in 2015 for "Birdman."
"The Revenant" went into Sunday's ceremony with a leading 12 nominations, and was among four movies believed to have the best chances for best picture after it won Golden Globe and BAFTA trophies.
The ambitious 20th Century Fox Pioneer-era tale, shot in sub-zero temperatures, also brought a first Oscar win for its star Leonardo DiCaprio, who got a standing ovation from the A-list Hollywood audience.
"I do not take tonight for granted," DiCaprio said, taking the opportunity in his acceptance speech to urge action on climate change.
Yet voters in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences chose Open Road Films' "Spotlight," which traces the Boston Globe's 2003 Pulitzer Prize winning investigation of child sex abuse by Catholic priests, for best picture. The movie also won best original screenplay.
"This film gave a voice to survivors, and this Oscar amplifies that voice, which we hope can become a choir that will resonate all the way to the Vatican," said producer Michael Sugar.
Rising star Brie Larson, 26, took home the statuette for best actress for her role as an abducted young woman in indie movie "Room," adding to her armful of trophies from other award shows.