LOS ANGELES (AP) — The segregation-era road-trip drama "Green Book" was crowned best picture at the 91st Academy Awards on Sunday, handing Hollywood's top award to a film seen as a feel-good throwback by some and ridiculed as an outdated inversion of "Driving Miss Daisy" by others.
In a year where Hollywood could have made history by bestowing best picture on Netflix ("Roma") or Marvel ("Black Panther") for the first time, the motion picture academy instead threw its fullest support behind a traditional interracial buddy tale that proved as popular as it was divisive. But Peter Farrelly's "Green Book" weathered criticism that it was retrograde and inauthentic to triumph over more acclaimed films and bigger box-office successes.
It was an unexpected finale to a brisk, hostless ceremony that was awash in historic wins for diversity, including Spike Lee's first competitive Oscar. More women and more individual black nominees won than ever before.
The Oscars spread awards around for Ryan Coogler's superhero sensation "Black Panther," Alfonso Cuarón's black-and-white personal epic "Roma" and the Freddie Mercury biopic "Bohemian Rhapsody."
Lee, whose "Do the Right Thing" came out the same year that "Driving Miss Daisy" won best picture, was among those most visibly upset by the award handed to "Green Book." After presenter Julia Roberts announced it, Lee stood up, waved his hands in disgust and appeared to try to leave the Dolby Theatre before returning.
"Green Book" also won best supporting actor for Mahershala Ali and best original screenplay.
"The whole story is about love," said Farrelly, a filmmaker best known for broad comedies like "Dumb and Dumber" and "There's Something About Mary." ''It's about loving each other despite the differences and find out the truth about who we are. We're the same people."
Backstage, Lee clutched a glass of champagne while reflecting on the 30 years between "Driving Miss Daisy" and "Green Book." ''I'm snake-bit," he said, laughing. "Every time somebody's driving somebody, I lose!"
Lee's win for best adapted screenplay for his white supremacist drama "BlacKkKlansman," an award he shared with three co-writers, gave the ceremony its signature moment. The crowd rose in a standing ovation, Lee leapt into the arms of presenter Samuel L. Jackson and even the backstage press room burst into applause.
Lee, whose film includes footage of President Donald Trump after the violent white supremacist protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, urged mobilization for the upcoming election.
"Let's be on the right side of history. Make the moral choice between love and hate," said Lee, who was given an honorary Oscar in 2015. "Let's do the right thing! You knew I had to get that in there."
One of the biggest surprises of the night was in the best actress category. Olivia Colman won for playing Queen Anne in the royal romp "The Favourite," denying Glenn Close her first Oscar. Close remains the most-nominated living actor never to win, with seven nominations.
"Oooh. It's genuinely quite stressful," said a staggered Colman, who later turned to Close to say she was her idol, "And this is not how I wanted it to be."
The night's co-lead nominee "Roma" won best director and best cinematography for Cuarón, whose film also notched Mexico's first foreign language film Oscar. Cuarón and his "Three Amigos" countrymen — Alejandro Inarritu and Guillermo del Toro, who presented Cuarón with best picture — have had a stranglehold on the category, winning five of the past six years.
Cuarón, who became the first director to win for serving as his own director of photography, referred to an international crop of nominees in one of his three acceptance speeches.