LOS ANGELES — Against all odds, love won out at the 90th Academy Awards.
Guillermo del Toro's lavish, full-hearted monster romance "The Shape of Water" swam away with best picture at an Oscar ceremony flooded by a sense of a change for a movie business confronting the post-Harvey Weinstein era. The ceremony, held Sunday at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, exorcised some demons — like last year's envelope fiasco — and wrestled with other, deeper problems in Hollywood, like gender equality and diversity.
"The Shape of Water," which came in with 13 nods, took a leading four awards, including best production design, best score and best director for del Toro. The Cold War-set movie, about a mute woman and a captive fish-man, is del Toro's Technicolor ode to outsiders of all kinds — and species.
"The greatest thing that art does, and that our industry does, is erase the lines in the sand," said del Toro, accepting the best director award.
Del Toro became the third Mexican-born filmmaker to win the award, joining his friends and countrymen Alejandro Inarritu and Alfonso Cuaron — who once were dubbed "the Three Amigos." He dedicated the best picture award to young filmmakers — "the youth who are showing us how things are done."
The night's final award was handed out again by Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, a year after the infamous "Moonlight"-"La La Land" error. "It's so nice seeing you again," said Beatty with a grin.
The ceremony was the crescendo of one of Hollywood's most turbulent awards seasons ever — one that saw cascading allegations of sexual harassment topple movie moguls, upended Oscar campaigns and new movements sparked like Time's Up.
Much of Sunday's broadcast, hosted for the second straight year by Jimmy Kimmel, seemed to point a way forward for the industry. "It's a new day in Hollywood," said presenter Jennifer Lawrence, who with Jodie Foster, subbed for last year's best-actor winner, Casey Affleck, in presenting the best-actress award.
The award went to Frances McDormand for "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri," a movie about a furious woman out for justice. McDormand asked all the attending female nominees stand up in the theater. There weren't nearly as many as men, despite the historic nominations for Greta Gerwig (the fifth woman nominated for best director) and Rachel Morrison ("Mudbound"), the first woman nominated for best cinematography.
"Look around, ladies and gentlemen, because we all have stories to tell and projects that need financing," declared McDormand. "I have two words to leave with you tonight, ladies and gentlemen: Inclusion Rider" — referring to actors signing contracts that mandate a film's gender and racial inclusivity.
Jordan Peele won for his script to his horror sensation "Get Out," becoming the first African-American to win for best original screenplay. Peele said he stopped writing it "20 times," skeptical that it would ever get made.
"But I kept coming back to it because I knew if someone would let me make this movie, that people would hear it and people would see it," said Peele. "So I want to dedicate this to all the people who raised my voice and let me make this movie."
Things went expected in the acting categories, where three widely admired veteran actors won their first Oscars. Gary Oldman won for his Winston Churchill in "Darkest Hour," Allison Janney ("I, Tonya") took best supporting actress, and Sam Rockwell ("Three Billboards") won best supporting actor. Oldman thanked his nearly 99-year-old mother. "Put the kettle on," he told her. "I'm bringing Oscar home."