The actor picked up the award for his performance in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood in the Best Supporting Actor category, beating screen veterans Tom Hanks (A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood), Al Pacino (The Irishman), Joe Pesci (The Irishman) and Anthony Hopkins (The Two Popes).
After hugging co-star Leonardo DiCaprio, Pitt took to the stage to deliver an understated and moving speech about his decades-long journey through the entertainment industry.
“I’m not one to look back, but this has made me do so ... all the wonderful people I’ve met along the way, to stand here now ― Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, ain’t that the truth,” he said.
He ended his speech by dedicating the award to his children ― Maddox, 18, Pax, 16, Zahara, 15, Shiloh, 13, and twins Knox and Vivienne, 11.
“This is for my kids, who colour everything I do,” he said. “I adore you. Thank you.”
Pitt and Jolie, who divorced in 2016 after two years of marriage, were locked in an acrimonious custody battle long after their relationship ended.
The two reached a final agreement over the custody of their children in November 2018 after years of bitter negotiations in and out of the public eye.
Pitt has become something of an awards show darling this year, dominating the competition at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, the Golden Globes, the British Academy Film Awards and essentially every other ceremony for his turn as over-the-hill stuntman Cliff Booth in the Quentin Tarantino-directed feature.
And, of course, his legitimately funny acceptance speeches, in which he’s joked about everything from his difficult marriages to his co-star “LDC,” have raised expectations for his time on the Oscars stage.
He did make some cracks during his Oscar speech, referencing President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial and the blocking of John Bolton’s testimony.
“They told me I only have 45 seconds up here, which is 45 seconds more than the Senate gave John Bolton this week,” Pitt said.
He also paid tribute to director Tarantino, adding that “the film industry would be a much drier place without you.”
For Pitt, it’s been on a long and winding road to his first acting Oscar win. The 56-year-old previously won an Academy Award in 2014 for producing 12 Years a Slave.
He’s been nominated for six previous trophies at the awards show, scoring his first nod in 1996 for Best Actor in a Supporting Role as Jeffrey Goines in the drama 12 Monkeys.
The Academy overlooked Pitt’s performances for more than a decade after his first nomination until 2009′s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, but he lost to Sean Penn for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role.
In 2012, he received dual nominations for starring in and producing the baseball drama Moneyball before finally taking home a trophy for the Steve McQueen-directed drama two years later. Pitt’s sixth Oscar nomination came from producing The Big Short, which was nominated in 2016 for Best Picture but ultimately lost out to Spotlight.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this post misstated the ages of Pitt and Jolie’s six children.