4 reasons why the Oscars wasn’t all about film

Oscars winners & losers
Spotlight wins best picture Oscar
High pressure Hollywood eyes Oscars

For a night dedicated to celebrating achievements in film, political subject matters seemed to take center stage for a large amount of Sunday's 88th Academy Awards.

Key figures, in both the political and arts space, chose the film industry's most talked-about ceremony, to take a moment to cover important global issues.

From climate change to the "#OscarsSoWhite" controversy, CNBC takes a look at four topics which dominated Sunday night's event.

Hollywood is “sorority racist”

One topic that hit the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences hard this year was diversity in film.

For a second consecutive year, the Academy announced an all-white Oscar nominee line up in January. In response to the controversy, the Academy's president, Cheryl Boone Isaacs said she was "heartbroken and frustrated about the lack of inclusion."

Academy pledges to increase Oscars diversity

A number of celebrities chose to boycott 2016's ceremony, while the night's host, Chris Rock decided to confront the matter head on.

"Is Hollywood racist? You're damn right Hollywood is racist. But it ain't that racist that you've grown accustomed to. Hollywood is sorority racist. It's like, 'We like you Rhonda, but you're not a Kappa'," the actor and comedian said on stage.

"That's how Hollywood is. But things are changing. Things are changing," Rock added, giving Michael B. Jordan's role in "Creed" as an example.

"It's just, we want opportunity. We want black actors to get the same opportunities as white actors."

Following the nominations and backlash, the Academy made a unanimous vote in late January to double the number of women and diverse members of the Academy by 2020.

"The Academy is going to lead and not wait for the industry to catch up," said Isaacs.

Climate Change: “Most urgent threat” facing our species

One of the most anticipated announcements last night was who would take the "Best Actor" statuette.

After 22 years and six nominations, Leonardo DiCaprio won for his role in "The Revenant", and his speech gave him the perfect opportunity to address an issue he's extremely passionate about: Climate change.

"Climate change is real, it is happening right now. It is the most urgent threat facing our entire species, and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating."

"We need to support leaders around the world, who do not speak for the big polluters or the big corporations, but who speak for all of humanity."

Actor Leonardo DiCaprio, center, walks down 6th Avenue during the People's Climate March on September 21, 2014, in New York.
UN climate change summit: Why politics are 'toxic'

Sexual assault: “Let’s change the culture”

Over the past year, especially within recent weeks, the topic of sexual assault has been widely-debated, from sexual assault allegations against Bill Cosby, to celebrities weighing in on the "Free Kesha" debate.

Last night, U.S. Vice President, Joe Biden took to the floor to introduce Lady Gaga, who was performing her Oscar-nominated song "'Til It Happens to You."

Lady Gaga performs onstage during the 88th Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood, CA.
Kevin Winter | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images

In his introductory speech, Biden asked the audience to "join millions of Americans" to take the pledge to intervene in situations where consent has not or cannot be given.

"We must and we can change the culture so that no abused woman or man like the survivors you will see tonight, ever feel they have to ask themselves 'What did I do?' They did nothing wrong," said Biden.

Musician, Lady Gaga added additional weight to Biden's comments by performing alongside a number of survivors of sexual abuse. Several individuals took to social media afterwards to applaud the "powerful" performance.




“Take action against on-screen smoking”

On February 1, the World Health Organization (WHO) released its latest "Smoke-free movies" report, which called on governments to tackle the use of tobacco products in movies, in a bid to prevent future generations from adopting the habit of smoking.

As the Oscars got underway on Sunday, WHO posted a series of tweets online — with the #Oscars hashtag and emoji — to stress why films that include tobacco imagery should be given an "adult rating."



Clint Eastwood squints while smoking a cigarette between his teeth in a still from director Sergio Leone's film 'The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.'
Movies depicting smoking should be given ‘adult rating’: WHO

By CNBC's Alexandra Gibbs, follow her @AlexGibbsy and @CNBCi