Hawking leads plaudits for Redmayne
Professor Stephen Hawking has told of his pride in Eddie Redmayne after the British star landed the best actor Oscar for his role as the famous physicist.
The 33-year-old won the gong for his performance in The Theory Of Everything after being pitted against another favourite - Michael Keaton - and fellow Briton Benedict Cumberbatch.
Prof Hawking, who has made huge breakthroughs in science while battling motor neurone disease, told of his delight on his Facebook page.
"Congratulations to Eddie Redmayne for winning an Oscar for playing me in The Theory Of Everything movie," he said.
"Well done, Eddie, I'm very proud of you."
Redmayne won over even more fans with his excited and emotional response to his "extraordinary" big win, breaking off midway through his acceptance speech to exclaim "wow".
"I don't think I'm capable of articulating quite how I feel right now. I'm fully aware that I'm a lucky, lucky man," he said.
He dedicated the award to "all of those people around the world battling" motor neurone disease and said that the Oscar belonged to "Stephen" and his ex-wife Jane (Hawking) and the rest of their "exceptional family".
Clutching his Oscar, Redmayne said: "I will be its custodian and I promise you I will look after him, I will polish him, I will answer his beck and call and wait on him hand and foot ".
Accepting his trophy from Cate Blanchett, a shocked Redmayne also told his new wife Hannah: "I love you so much," before joking about the trophy: "We have a new fella coming to share our apartment".
Later, Redmayne said that being on stage was "an extraordinary euphoria.... something I will not forget in a hurry".
Backstage, he told reporters that he had been trying to "bury all this frenzy of nerves and white noise and trying to speak articulately and, of course, you then forget everything".
He admitted that despite now being an Oscar winner, it had not always been easy to find work.
"I've never really had much choice in work‑wise, I've always had to fight for the jobs and fought pretty hard for them, certainly for The Theory Of Everything," he said.
"So as far as where you go from here, just retaining employment will keep me very happy."
Redmayne, who has also won a Golden Globe, Bafta and Screen Actors Guild for the performance, thanked his "staggering partner in crime Felicity Jones" who lost out on the leading actress Oscar to Julianne Moore.
Moore - like Redmayne - was widely tipped to win before the ceremony began.
Accepting her award for her performance as a woman with Alzheimer's in Still Alice , she said: " I read an article that said that winning an Oscar could lead to living five years longer. If that's true I'd really like to thank the Academy because my husband is younger than me."
The actress added: "I'm so happy. I'm thrilled actually that we were able to hopefully shine a light on Alzheimer's disease. So many people with this disease feel isolated and marginalised."
The big hit of the night was Birdman which won best picture, original screenplay and best director for Alejandro G Inarritu.
On a night peppered with political point scoring, Inarritu joked the academy should bring in "immigration rules" after his win followed Alfonso Cuaron's success last year with Gravity.
He said: "Two Mexicans in a row, that's suspicious I guess."
The tone was set early by Patricia Arquette who brought the house down with a speech demanding "equal rights for women".
The actress, named best supporting actress for her role in Boyhood, accepted her award from last year's best supporting actor Jared Leto.
In a highly political speech, she said: " To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, 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 States of America."
The event at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles was hosted by How I Met Your Mother star Neil Patrick Harris.
The actor started with a satirical welcome for "Hollywood's best and whitest - sorry brightest" before launching into a song that paid tribute to legends include Charlie Chaplin and Marilyn Monroe.
But his confident opening faded and his script never quite seemed to totally win over his audience - and there was no attention-grabbing moment to rival last year's selfie with then-host Ellen DeGeneres.
Whiplash star JK Simmons was the night's first winner, picking up his award for best supporting actor from Lupita Nyong'o.
The Oscar for best original song went to Glory from the Martin Luther King biopic Selma.
Collecting the award, John Legend said the song was written for a film based on events 50 years ago, but he added: "We say that Selma is now because the struggle for justice is right now."
He added: "We know that right now the struggle for freedom and justice is real. We live in the most incarcerated country in the world.
"There are more black men under correctional control today than there were under slavery in 1850."
One of the night's most powerful speeches was made by Graham Moore who won t he Oscar for best adapted screenplay for The Imitation Game which stars Cumberbatch as Alan Turing.
Moore told the audience he tried to commit suicide aged 16 because he "felt weird" and "different" and told the TV audience: "Stay weird, stay different and when it's your turn and you're standing on this stage, please pass on this message."
The award for best documentary feature went to Citizenfour, about whistleblower Edward Snowden, and director Laura Poitras dedicated the win to Snowden and other whistleblowers, and journalists "exposing truth".
In a nod to the controversy over the release of The Interview, Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs told the assembled audience they had "a responsibility to protect freedom of expression".
The film, about a plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, had its US release cancelled late last year following a hacking plot of the Sony Pictures studio in which terror threats were made against cinemas planning to screen it.
The Grand Budapest Hotel failed to win any of the big prizes, but carried off Oscars for costume design, make-up and hair-styling and production design.
The Oscar for best foreign language film was presented to the Polish film Ida, while Londoner Mat Kirkby won the Oscar for best live action short film for The Phonecall, telling the audience: "Crikey O'Reilly. Crikey, these are big buggers."
The film, starring Sally Hawkins, is set in a crisis hotline centre, as is the film that won the documentary short category - Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1.
Big Hero 6 picked up the Oscar for best animated feature.
Scarlett Johansson introduced Lady Gaga who took to the stage for a tribute to The Sound Of Music, before Julie Andrews arrived on stage to present the Oscar for best original score to Alexandre Desplat for his work on The Grand Budapest Hotel.