Jimmy Kimmel took the stage for Sunday night’s 89th Academy Awards and jumped right into the political humor.
Specifically, jokes about the President.
“The broadcast is being watched in more than 225 countries that now hate us,” Kimmel quipped.
The late night host said many of his acquaintances had asked him to speak up to say something to unite the country, and adopting a slightly serious note, Kimmel seemed to actually try to do just that.
“I’m not the man to unite this country, but if every person watching this show… took a minute to reach out to someone you disagree with and have a positive conversation, not as liberal or conservatives, but as Americas… we could really make America great again,” he said.
But after poking fun at longtime “rival” Matt Damon, Kimmel started taking some serious jabs at President Trump.
“It’s so easy to reach out and heal. I want to say thank you to President Trump. I mean, remember last year when it seemed like the Oscars were racist? That’s gone thanks to him.”
Kimmel later took things one step further. He asked the crowd to stand for Meryl Streep, who memorably slammed Trump at the Golden Globes.
He then told the crowd, “Some of you get to come on this stage and make a speech that the President of the United States will tweet about in all caps during his 5 a.m. bowel movement.”
After Kimmel’s opening, Mahershala Ali took home the first award of the night for best supporting actor and thanked his teachers and professors as he teared up during his speech.
“Now it’s time for something that is very rare today, a president that believes in both arts and sciences,” Kimmel said before introducing Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs.
Aside from politics, all eyes for the night are on Damien Chazelle’s celebrated musical “La La Land,” up for a record-tying 14 nominations. A best picture upset, while unlikely, isn’t out the question, though. Barry Jenkins’ eight-time nominated “Moonlight” on Saturday took best feature at the Film Independent Spirit Awards, where “La La Land” wasn’t eligible.
The other films up for best picture are Denis Villeneuve’s “Arrival,” Denzel Washington’s “Fences,” Mel Gibson’s “Hacksaw Ridge,” David Mackenzie’s “Hell or High Water,” Theodore Melfi’s “Hidden Figures,” Kenneth Lonergan’s “Manchester by the Sea” and Garth Davis’ “Lion.”
There are some sources of suspense at this year’s Oscars, most notably in the best actor category. While Casey Affleck (“Manchester by the Sea”) was the favorite through most of awards season, Washington (“Fences”) took the highly predictive Screen Actors Guild award, setting him up as the odds-makers’ favored pick.
Affleck, wearing a shirt with the word “love” in Arabic, was among those to speak bluntly against Trump at Saturday’s Spirit Awards.
“The policies of this administration are abhorrent and will not last,” said Affleck, accepting the best actor award.
An unusually tense atmosphere has coalesced before the Dolby Theatre ceremony, with protests, rallies and boycotts swirling around this year’s Oscars.