British stars Daniel Kaluuya and Emerald Fennell were among the early Oscar winners as Hollywood’s biggest night took place in Los Angeles.
Kaluuya, born in London to Ugandan parents, was recognised for his portrayal of Black Panther leader Fred Hampton in Judas And The Black Messiah.
He won best supporting actor.
Fennell, who won best original screenplay for her directorial debut Promising Young Woman, fought back tears as she delivered her improvised acceptance speech.
Looking at her statuette, she said: “He’s so heavy and he’s so cold.”
She paid tribute to the cast and crew, who made the film over a 23-day shoot.
Fennell, who was pregnant during the shoot, joked she was crossing her legs during production.
Christopher Hampton and Florian Zeller won the prize for best adapted screenplay for their work on the agonising drama The Father.
In his acceptance speech, Zeller, who appeared via video link from his native France, paid tribute to the film’s star, Sir Anthony Hopkins, and described him as the greatest living actor.
Best international film was won by Danish movie Another Round.
Oscars producers had said they wanted the broadcast to resemble a film and the opening stuck to that theme.
Regina King’s walk through the historic Union Station in downtown Los Angeles was captured in a cinematic tracking shot, before she opened the show with a defiant monologue.
King said while many watching at home may reach for their TV remotes when celebrities start talking politics, as a black woman and mother to a black son, race was not an issue she could ignore.
She said had the verdict in the Derek Chauvin case gone another way, she would have put on her marching boots.
King outlined the rigorous safety measures in place for the in-person ceremony, including vaccinations, tests and social distancing.
Attendees were not required to wear masks on camera but were asked to cover their faces when not on screen.
Attendance was limited to 170 people, with audience members rotated in and out during the ceremony.
The ceremony finally took place after a two-month delay and a bruising year for the film industry, with cinemas around the world closed for months on end and productions disrupted.
Road movie Nomadland, about nomadic communities in the US, is frontrunner to take the best picture prize, while filmmaker Chloe Zhao could be the second woman in history to win best director.
Promising Young Woman star Carey Mulligan, Pieces Of A Woman actress Vanessa Kirby and The Father’s Olivia Colman are all nominated for prizes at the ceremony.
Sir Anthony, Sound Of Metal’s Riz Ahmed, Mank’s Gary Oldman and The Trial Of The Chicago 7’s Sacha Baron Cohen are also in the running.
There was no host and instead the Academy relied on a cast of star-studded presenters.