Alfonso Cuaron bagged a hat trick of Oscars on Sunday for "Roma," his love letter to his childhood in 1970s Mexico City, but controversial civil rights drama "Green Book" crashed his party with a win for best picture.
The 57-year-old Mexican filmmaker won the prizes for best director, cinematography and foreign language film, capping a brilliant awards season for him -- and offering streaming giant Netflix a new feather in its cap.
Diversity, though, was perhaps the biggest winner on a night when a beloved black filmmaker won his first competitive Oscar, a superhero blockbuster set in Africa scored big, and two black actors and an Egyptian first-generation American won three of the four acting prizes.
The wide range of films honored at Hollywood's Dolby Theatre on Sunday bridged the divide between art house fare and popular blockbusters.
"Roma" was the frontrunner going into the night with 10 nominations, despite spending little time in movie theaters, in keeping with Netflix's customary release strategy.
But "Green Book" -- the real-life story of a celebrated black pianist who befriends his white driver as they tour the segregated American South in the 1960s -- overcame a series of controversies to win the top prize.
"The whole story is about love. It's about loving each other, despite our differences, and finding out the truth about who we are," said director Peter Farrelly.
Rock legends Queen, fronted by US singer Adam Lambert, opened what turned out to be one of the more enjoyable ceremonies in recent years with a mini-medley of mega-hits "We Will Rock You" and "We Are the Champions."
The British rockers may have experienced more nerves than during a normal gig: biopic "Bohemian Rhapsody" was up for several awards and ended up the biggest winner of the night with four Oscars.
The film -- which tracks the band's rise to fame from the moment when Freddie Mercury joined the band in 1970 to their legendary 1985 Live Aid performance -- took statuettes for best actor Rami Malek, as well as sound editing, sound mixing and film editing.
The 7,900-odd voting members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences saw fit to add gold to the blockbuster's haul of green, with statuettes for its production design, costumes and original score.
The first statuette -- for best supporting actress -- went to first-time nominee Regina King, 48, for her emotional performance as a mother defending her daughter's boyfriend, wrongfully accused of rape, in "If Beale Street Could Talk."
- Plummeting ratings -
The Academy -- desperate to boost television ratings that have plummeted in recent years -- tried to stick to a three-hour telecast, but it hit a few bumps along the way.
There was no host for the first time in three decades, after comedian Kevin Hart bowed out amid a backlash over past tweets slammed as homophobic.
Controversies over the Academy's efforts to save time included plans to present a few awards during commercial breaks, and to feature only a few of the nominated songs. Both ideas were scrapped.
In the end, the show was only about 15 minutes over time.