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birdman swoops for oscar glory

Birdman captured Hollywood's top honour at the Academy Awards, where the jazzy, surreal comedy about an actor fleeing his superhero past won best picture at a ceremony punctuated by passionate pleas for equality.

On a stormy night in Hollywood, the 87th annual Academy Awards bristled with politics and heartfelt speeches about women's rights, immigration, suicide prevention and race.

As well as best film, Birdman also won best director for Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu.


The ceremony, hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, was heavy on song and dance as Lady Gaga lavishly performed The Hills Are Alive from The Sound of Music with a rapt Julie Andrews looking on.

All eight of the best-picture nominees won awards, including Eddie Redmayne for best actor for his technically nuanced performance as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything.

"Please know this that I am fully aware that I am a lucky, lucky man," said the young British actor. "This belongs to all of the people around the world battling ALS."

The Edward Snowden documentary Citizenfour, in which Laura Poitras captured Snowden in the midst of leaking National Security Agency documents, won best documentary.

All of Sunday's big winners were first-timers, including best actress winner Julianne Moore, who won for her performance as an academic with early onset Alzheimer's in Still Alice.

"I read an article that said that winning an Oscar could lead to living five years longer," said Moore. "If that's true, I'd really like to thank the academy because my husband is younger than me."

Harris began the night by alluding to this year's all-white acting nominees.

"Tonight we honour Hollywood's best and whitest - I mean brightest."

Though Richard Linklater's Boyhood was the critical favourite, it won only best supporting actress for Arquette.

"To every woman who gave birth to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation," said Arquette. "We have fought for everybody else's equal rights. It's our time to have wage equality once for all and equal rights for women in the US."

Graham Moore also moved the audience in his speech for best adapted screenplay for his The Imitation Game script. Moore said when he was 16 he tried to kill himself. "Stay weird, stay different," he implored.

The best supporting Oscar went to Simmons for his role in the indie Whiplash.

Simmons fittingly accepted his supporting acting Oscar with some straightforward advice: "Call your mom. Call your dad."