"Birdman" soared late at the 87th Academy Awards, winning the big prize -- best picture.
"This guy is as bold as bold could be," said star Michael Keaton, referring to director and co-writer Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu
The film also won three other honors: directing, cinematography and original screenplay. Inarritu is the second straight Mexican to win director, after "Gravity's" Alfonso Cuaron.
"Two Mexicans in a row -- that's suspicious," Inarritu joked.
Eddie Redmayne won best actor for his performance as the ALS-afflicted scientist Stephen Hawking in "The Theory of Everything." Julianne Moore won best actress for her performance in "Still Alice."
"Boyhood" performer Patricia Arquette won best supporting actress -- and made sure that her award was a call for equality.
"We have fought for everybody else's equal rights. It's our time to have wage equality once and for all. And equal rights for women in the United Stares of America," she said, to rousing applause.
Her activist message also resonated online.
Also resonating was a stirring speech by Common and John Legend, who won best song for "Glory." Their performance of "Glory" brought star David Oyelowo to tears.
'Call your mom, call your dad'
The best supporting actor Oscar went to J.K. Simmons of "Whiplash."
The longtime character actor -- known to audiences for his roles in Sam Raimi's "Spider-Man," the TV show "The Closer" and ads for Farmers Insurance and M&Ms, among many others -- paid tribute to his family in his speech, praising his wife and his "above-average" children.
He also put in a plug for actual phone calls.
"Call your mom, call your dad; don't text, don't email; tell them you love them," he said.
Host Neil Patrick Harris tweaked him by humming the Farmers theme as Simmons left the stage.
"Whiplash" won three Oscars, winning sound mixing and film editing along with supporting actor. "The Grand Budapest Hotel" has four Oscars -- for score, production design, costume design and makeup.
"Big Hero 6" won best animated feature. "Citizenfour" won best documentary feature.
Director Laura Poitras thanked the film's subject, Edward Snowden, the NSA contractor who leaked classified files and earned the ire of the government. An attempt at a pun from Harris -- Snowden couldn't be at the Oscars "for some treason" -- got immediate pushback online.
"The Imitation Game" won adapted screenplay.
NPH leads with jokes
The Oscars -- the "epicenter of noise and world attention," as "Ida" director Pawel Pawlikowski called them -- wasted no time at poking fun at some of the big issues facing Hollywood: diversity, economics and self-involvement.
Harris led off the show with a joke about the lack of diversity among the acting nominees.
"This year we honor Hollywood's best and whitest -- sorry, brightest," he joked.
Then, in a mammoth opening number, he and Anna Kendrick were joined by Jack Black, who angrily hopped on stage to throw a sarcastic wet blanket over their hailing of "Moving Pictures," noting that the business is as much about "raising tents with tentpoles and chasing Chinese bucks" than it is about art.
He was summarily dismissed by Harris.
The host also wandered into the audience, greeting two seat fillers among the celebrities, and at one point parodied "Birdman" by walking through the backstage area in his underwear -- right onto the stage.
Some unexpected rain didn't dampen the spirits of the celebrities arriving for Hollywood's biggest night, though their outfits appeared subdued in color, with lots of whites, blacks, silvers and grays.
Lady Gaga added some red with what appeared to be exaggerated dishwashing gloves.
Arquette decided to split the difference between black and white, with her gown consisting of a white top and black skirt.
So did comedian Kevin Hart, who was wearing a tuxedo featuring a white jacket with black lapels, along with a black shirt, black tie and white pants.
"When you're on the red carpet, you might as well pop," he told CNN.
However, a Twitter hashtag was encouraging interviewers to ask celebrities more than just "Who are you wearing?" The trending hashtag was #AskHerMore.
The show aired from Hollywood's Dolby Theatre.