But the decision to cut two performances from the category cast a bit of a pall over the evening.
Sam Smith’s “Spectre” song “Writing’s On the Wall” won the best original song Oscar Sunday, upsetting Lady Gaga and songwriter Diane Warren’s anti-rape ballad “Til It Happens To You” from the documentary “The Hunting Ground.”
“I stand here as a proud, gay man and I hope one day we can all stand as equals,” Smith said, noting he had been told he would be the first out gay man to ever win an Academy Award. However, Elton John, who won best song for “The Lion King,” and Bill Condon, who won for “Gods and Monsters,” are among previous out gay winners.
Warren was aiming for her first win after being nominated seven times previously for songs like “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” from “Mannequin,” “How Do I Live” from “Con Air” and “I Don’t Want To Miss a Thing” from “Armageddon.”
“Writing’s On the Wall” is the second Bond theme in a row to win the prize. Adele’s “Skyfall” title track won three years ago.
However, the Academy’s decision to cut performances of two of the nominated songs from the show’s rundown, first reported by Variety, cast a bit of a pall over the category this year. Officially owed to “time constraints,” the move nevertheless felt like favoritism afforded to bigger acts like Lady Gaga, Sam Smith and the Weeknd and a dismissal of lesser-known ones like Sumi Jo (“Simple Song #3”) and Anohni (“Manta Ray”).
Anohni, a transgender artist whose exclusion from the show seems inconsistent with the Academy’s rush to course correct perceptions of lacking diversity, ultimately boycotted the ceremony.