OnlyOnAOL: Oscar windfall for Leo, Brie, Alicia and Mark

Alicia Vikander On "The Danish Girl"
Alicia Vikander On "The Danish Girl"

BY DONNA FREYDKIN

"Whiplash" wasn't just one of 2014's breakout hits, making Miles Teller a star. It's also a bonafide condition in the wake of awards season, after dealing with months of feverish and passionate prognostications, predictions, debates and, courtesy of social media, all-out brawls.

Finally, we have our winners. And luckily for us, we spoke to most of them while they promoted their projects. Here's what, in hindsight, we'd like to share.

88th Annual Academy Awards - Press Room
88th Annual Academy Awards - Press Room

Best actor: Leonardo DiCaprio

He's earned five Oscar nominations, and this year proved to be golden for DiCaprio, for his searing role in "The Revenant." The film, shot entirely in natural light, in natural elements, stars DiCaprio as Hugh Glass, an explorer left for dead who goes on a vengeance spree. Director Alejandro G. Iñárritu, a perfectionist, exposed his star to snow and rain and sleet and hail, and a bear attack.

"What surprised me the most about the filmmaking process? How when Alejandro set out to make anything in new realism and he strived for that authenticity, it took that extra effort submerged in the wilderness to achieve that," DiCaprio told us. "You set the bar so high from the outset. We rehearsed three weeks for the opening sequence. We knew it would be a difficult shoot but we could not imagine how many complications the weather would cause." (Getty)

Best actress: Brie Larson

From the start, she was the one to beat. Larson, playing Ma, the tough yet tender, bitter yet sweet, miserable yet loving, terrified yet fearless kidnapping and rape victim who raises her son (Jacob Tremblay) in a shed. Until she can't take it anymore and plots the kind of escape that makes horror movies seem like Lifetime romps.

"Amazing," Larson told us, when we told her what a visceral reaction the audience had to the film. "I worried the whole time -- I knew it was honest, but can people stomach it?"

Larson hasn't been as visible on the awards circuit since she's filming "Kong: Skull Island." Which has shielded her from Oscar talk -- she didn't even want to hear the O word. Period. "No. No. I can't. What am I to do about that? No." (Getty)

Best supporting actress: Alicia Vikander

The Swedish actress and former ballerina has been on pointe this year, with two breakout performances: as a robot in "Ex Machina," and in her winning turn as the loving wife of transgender pioneer Lili Elbe (Eddie Redmayne). Color her surprised. Very, very surprised. Especially since director Tom Hooper didn't react as expected when she first read for the part.

"He didn't say anything. When you come in and you're shit nervous and you really want the part, like I did, and he didn't say anything, I took that as a very bad sign at first," says Vikander. "That was a really cool first reading with Eddie."

Now, says Vikander, she's more comfortable talking about herself. And even knows where the good snacks are when she does interviews. (Getty).

88th Annual Academy Awards - Backstage And Audience
88th Annual Academy Awards - Backstage And Audience

More awards coverage:
OnlyOnAOL: The first thing Leo DiCaprio did after wrapping 'The Revenant'
OnlyOnAOL: Why women will relish Leo DiCaprio's 'The Revenant'
OnlyOnAOL: 'Danish Girl' star Alicia Vikander spins through awards season
OnlyOnAOL: Get a 'Room' already, Brie Larson
OnlyOnAOL: Here's yet another reason to love Cate Blanchett

Best supporting actor: Mark Rylance

Yes, Sylvester Stallone was the nostalgic favorite to win for "Creed." But it was lauded stage star Mark Rylance who won the Oscar for "Bridge of Spies," in a performance singled out by critics. In his gracious speech, he thanked director Steven Spielberg and costar Tom Hanks.

The three-time Tony winner is venerated for his ability to transform into anyone. To wit, he played diabolical politician Thomas Cromwell in the miniseries "Wolf Hall" -- and the lovelorn noble Olivia in Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night."