American actor Dustin Hoffman for the first time expressed his opinion about the controversial whites-only acting nominees for this year's Academy Awards. "The Oscars have always been racist," he said matter-of-factly.

"It's always been that way. It's not anything new — like [awards host] Chris Rock, I heard said, 'Why this year?'" Hoffman told an Associated Press reporter when asked his position on the Oscar nominees.

"It's always been racism. It's kind of a reflection of what the country is."

In his opening monologue at the Oscars, Rock questioned the controversy over the white-only acting nominees — for the second year in a row — quipping: "It's the 88th Academy Awards, which means this whole black, no nominees thing has happened at least 71 other times."

The two-time Oscar winner (he won his best-actor awards for Kramer v Kramer and Rain Man) Hoffman boycotted the awards ceremony and did not bother watching it on TV. Instead, he spent the time at a New York Knicks basketball game at Madison Square Garden.

While he was there he spotted his pal film director Spike Lee, who had helped organized a boycott of the 2016 Oscars and was supposed to be presented with an Honorary Academy Award that night. Lee was wearing a black tuxedo.

"I went to see the Knicks game and saw my friend Spike Lee there all dressed up for the Oscars, but he was at the Knicks game," said Hoffman.

Asked what it will take to make Hollywood more diverse, Hoffman responded: "We change when the people that are oppressed force it to change."