Jimmy Kimmel may not have been the most exciting choice to host this year’s Academy Awards, but he rose to the occasion Sunday night with an opening monologue that seized the political moment and really let President Donald Trump have it.
The host had a tough act to follow after Justin Timberlake opened the show with an energetic version of his Oscar-nominated song “Can’t Stop the Feeling” from Trolls. “Oh good, I got a sitting ovation,” Kimmel said as the crowd took their seats.
“This broadcast is being watched live by millions of Americans and around the world in more than 225 countries that now hate us,” Kimmel said. And while people have been asking him to say something that could bring together a “divided” country, he told the audience he just couldn’t do it. “There’s only one Braveheart in this room, and he’s not going to unite us either,” he added, as the camera cut to Mel Gibson. “You look great,” he told the Hacksaw Ridge director. “I think the Scientology is working.”
Turning serious for a brief moment, Kimmel said. “There are millions of people watching right now and if every one of you took a minute to reach out to one person you disagree with, someone you like and have a positive, considerate conversation, not as liberals or conservatives, but as Americans, if we would all do that, we would make America great again. We really could.”
With that in mind, Kimmel offered to “bury the hatchet” with his nemesis Matt Damon. But then he proceeded to rip the actor for his box office flop The Great Wall. “Smooth move, dumbass,” he joked.
“Maybe this is not a popular thing to say, but I want to say thank you to President Trump,” Kimmel said. “Remember last year when it seemed like the Oscars were racist?” This year in movies, he added, “Black people saved NASA and white people saved jazz. That’s what you call progress.”
“We are very welcoming to outsiders here in Hollywood,” Kimmel said later, referring to Trump’s travel ban. “We don’t discriminate against people based on what countries they come from. We discriminate against them based on their age and weight.”
But Kimmel’s pièce de résistance came when he addressed Trump’s Twitter attack on “one of the most overrated actresses in Hollywood,” Meryl Streep.
“We are here tonight to honor great actors but we’re also here to honor the actors who seem great but actually really aren’t,” Kimmel said. “And of all the great actors here in Hollywood, one in particular has stood the test of time for her many uninspiring and overrated performances.” As the camera cut to Streep, she tried to hide in her seat.
“May I say, from her mediocre early work in The Deer Hunter and Out of Africa to her underwhelming performances in Kramer vs. Kramer and Sophie's Choice, Meryl Streep has phoned it in for more than 50 films over the course of her lackluster career.” He called on the audience to give Streep a “totally undeserved round of applause,” adding, “The highly overrated Meryl Streep, everyone.” Complimenting her address, he asked, “Is that an Ivanka?”
Before ending his monologue, Kimmel took a moment to highlight the magic of the Academy Awards. “Some of you will get to come up here on this stage tonight and give a speech that the president of the United States will tweet about in all caps during his 5 a.m. bowel movement tomorrow,” he joked.
Now, all we have to do is wait.
Midway through the show, with still no response from the president, Kimmel tried sending some tweets his way. Within minutes, they racked up hundreds of thousands of likes and retweets.