WATCH: Chris Rock confronts Hollywood racism row in opening monologue

It was Hollywood's big night last night

Chris Rock opened the 88th annual Academy Awards with a monologue confronting concerns about racism in Hollywood.

The outspoken black comedian spoke about diversity in the film industry after an all-white acting nominee line-up was announced for the second year running.

Rock was chosen to host the event at the Dolby Theatre for a second time last October - long before the #OscarsSoWhite row erupted.

He first hosted in 2005 and many agreed he was the perfect choice to take the helm this year.

In his opening speech, Rock described the Oscars as the "white people's choice awards" and noted the number of black faces shown in the opening montage of film clips.

He talked about the pressure put on him not to host the awards following the diversity controversy but he said he refused to quit his hosting duties because "the last thing I need is to lose another job to Kevin Hart".

Rock added that black actors should get the same opportunities as white actors.

The absence of black performers at the Oscars was a motif that stretched beyond Rock's monologue into bits of comedy in between award presentations.

The show featured a pre-taped parody of a scene from The Martian, the Oscar-nominated sci-fi drama about an astronaut marooned on the Red Planet.

In it Rock was substituted for the stranded star of that film, Matt Damon, as NASA officials argued whether it was worth the added expense to try to bring him back to Earth.

Director Spike Lee and actor Will Smith shunned this year's ceremony, although a wider Oscars boycott largely failed to gather steam among Hollywood A-listers.

Lee, who received an honorary Oscar in November, instead attended a New York Knicks basketball game on Sunday and sported a black tuxedo.

"The big thing is it's almost 100% white men who decide what gets made and what doesn't get made," Lee said.
"That's where the problem is at."