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Peter Farrelly, center, and the cast and crew of "Green Book" accept the award for best picture at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

'Green Book' takes Oscar for best picture; Spike Lee, Marvel, Gaga notch first wins at diverse Academy Awards

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By JAKE COYLE, AP Film Writer

LOS ANGELES (AP) — "Green Book" took home the Oscar for best picture Sunday at the Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre. The film from Universal Pictures stars Mahershala Ali as an African-American concert pianist in the 1960s and Viggo Mortensen as his driver. It won three Oscars, including best supporting actor for Ali and best original screenplay.

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Spike Lee won his first competitive Oscar while the motion picture academy spread around awards for Ryan Coogler's superhero sensation "Black Panther," Alfonso Cuaron's black-and-white personal epic "Roma," and the Freddie Mercury biopic "Bohemian Rhapsody" at a brisk, hostless Oscars awash in historic wins for diversity.

Mahershala Ali
Mahershala Ali poses with the award for best performance by an actor in a supporting role for "Green Book" in the press room at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

Lee's win for best adapted screenplay to his white supremacist drama "BlacKkKlansman" 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.

Charlie Wachtel, Spike Lee
Charlie Wachtel, left, and Spike Lee accept the award for best adapted screenplay for "BlacKkKlansman" at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Lee, whose film included footage of President Donald Trump's words following the violent white supremacist protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, spoke about the upcoming election.

"The 2020 election is around the corner. Let's all mobilize. Let's be on the right side of history," 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."

The biggest surprise of the night was in the best actress category. Olivia Colman won for her 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.

Olivia Colman
Olivia Colman arrives at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. She won the Oscar for best actress for her performance in "The Favourite." (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

"Ooo. 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."

"Bohemian Rhapsody," which kicked off the ABC telecast with a performance by Queen, won four awards despite pans from many critics and sexual assault allegations against its director, Bryan Singer, who was fired in mid-production. Its star, Rami Malek, won best actor for his full-bodied and prosthetic teeth-aided performance, and the film was honored for editing, sound mixing and sound editing.

Rami Malek
Rami Malek accepts the award for best performance by an actor in a leading role for "Bohemian Rhapsody" at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

"We made a film about a gay man, an immigrant who lived his life unapologetically himself," said Malek. "We're longing for stories like this. I am the son of immigrants from Egypt. I'm a first-generation American, and part of my story is being written right now."

The lush, big-budget craft of "Black Panther" won for Ruth Carter's costume design, Hannah Beachler and Jay Hart's production design, and Ludwig Göransson's score. Beachler had been the first African-American to ever be nominated in the category. Beachler and Carter became just the second and third black women to win nonacting Oscars.

"It just means that we've opened the door," Carter, a veteran costume designer, said backstage. "Finally, the door is wide open."

Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Adam Lambert
An image of Freddie Mercury appears on screen as Brian May, left, and Adam Lambert of Queen perform at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Two years after winning for his role in "Moonlight," Ali won again for his supporting performance in the interracial road trip drama "Green Book" — a role many said was really a lead. Ali is the second black actor to win two Oscars following Denzel Washington, who won for "Glory" and "Training Day." Ali dedicated the award to his grandmother. "Green Book," a film hailed by some as a throwback and criticized by others as retrograde, also took best original screenplay.

The night's co-lead nominee "Roma," which is favored to hand Netflix its first best picture win, notched Mexico's first foreign language film Oscar. Cuaron also won best cinematography, becoming the first director to ever win for serving as his own director of photography. Cuaron referenced an especially international crop of nominees.

Ruth E. Carter
Ruth E. Carter accepts the award for best costume design for "Black Panther" at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

"When asked about the New Wave, Claude Chabrol said there are no waves, there is only the ocean," said Cuaron, referring to the French filmmaker. "The nominees tonight have proven that we are a part of the same ocean."

The wins for "Roma" gave Netflix its most significant awards yet, while "Black Panther" — along with best animated film winner "Spider-Man: Into the Spider Verse" — meant the first Academy Awards for Marvel, the most consistent blockbuster factor Hollywood has ever seen.

Michael B. Jordan, Letitia Wright, Danai Guriraz, Winston Duke, Zinzi Evans, Ryan Coogler
Michael B. Jordan, from left, Letitia Wright, Danai Guriraz, Winston Duke, Zinzi Evans, and Ryan Coogler arrive at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

Queen launched Sunday's ceremony with a medley of hits that gave the awards a distinctly Grammy-like flavor as Hollywood's most prestigious ceremony sought to prove that it's still "champion of the world" after last year's record-low ratings.

To compensate for a lack of host, the motion picture academy leaned on its presenters, including an ornately outfitted Melissa McCarthy and David Tyree Henry and a Keegan-Michael Key who floated down like Mary Poppins. Following Queen, Tina Fey — alongside Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph — welcomed the Dolby Theatre audience to "the one-millionth Academy Awards."

Melissa McCarthy, Brian Tyree Henry
Melissa McCarthy, left, and Brian Tyree Henry present the award for best costume design at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Rudolph summarized a rocky Oscar preamble that featured numerous missteps and backtracks by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences: "There is no host, there won't be a popular movie category, and Mexico is not paying for the wall."
The trio then presented best supporting actress to Regina King for her pained matriarch in Barry Jenkins' James Baldwin adaptation "If Beale Street Could Talk." The crowd gave King a standing ovation for her first Oscar.

"To be standing here representing one of the greatest artists of our time, James Baldwin, is a little surreal," said King. "James Baldwin birthed this baby."

The inclusivity of the winners Sunday stood in stark contrast to the #OscarsSoWhite backlash that marked the 2016 and 2015 Oscars. Since then, the academy has worked to diversity its largely white and male membership, adding several thousand new members and opening the academy up internationally.

Chadwick Boseman
Chadwick Boseman, star of "Black Panther," arrives at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

More women won Oscars than ever before. Still, this year's nominations were criticized for not including a female best director nominee or a best-picture nominee directed by a woman.

Though the once presumed front-runner "A Star Is Born" appeared to flame out as awards season continued, it won, as expected, for the song "Shallow," which Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper performed during the ceremony. As she came off the stage, Cooper had his arm around Gaga as she asked, "Did I nail it?"

Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper
Bradley Cooper, left, and Lady Gaga acknowledge the audience after a performance of "Shallow" from "A Star is Born" at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Best documentary went to Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin's "Free Solo," which chronicles rock climber Alex Honnold's famed, free solo ascent of Yosemite's El Capitan, a 3,000-foot wall of sheer granite, without ropes or climbing equipment. "Free Solo" was among a handful of hugely successful documentaries last year including the nominated Ruth Bader Ginsberg documentary "RBG" and the snubbed Fred Rogers doc "Won't You Be My Neighbor."

"Thank you Alex Honnold for teaching us to believe in the impossible," said Vasarhelyi. "This film is for everyone who believes in the impossible."

Regina King
Regina King poses with the award for best performance by an actress in a supporting role for "If Beale Street Could Talk" in the press room at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

Adam McKay's Dick Cheney biopic "Vice" won makeup and hairstyling for its extensive physical transformations. The category was one of the four that the academy initially planned to present during a commercial break and as its winners — Greg Cannom, Kate Biscoe and Patricia Dehaney — dragged on in a litany of thank-yous, they were the first to have their microphone cut off.

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To turn around ratings, Oscar producers pledged a shorter show. In the academy's favor was a popular crop of nominees: "Bohemian Rhapsody," ''A Star Is Born" and, most of all, "Black Panther" have all amassed huge sums in ticket sales. Typically, when there are box-office hits (like "Titanic"), more people watch the Oscars.
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Associated Press writers Kristin M. Hall and Lindsey Bahr contributed to this report.

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