UPDATED with video: Jimmy Kimmel wasted no time getting political as he opened this year’s Academy Awards. “This broadcast Is being watched live by millions of Americans and around the world in more than 225 countries that now hate us. And I think that is an amazing thing,” the Oscars host gushed after Justin Timberlake’s opening performance number.
“Maybe this is not a popular thing to say, but I want to say thank you to Donald Trump,” Kimmel continued, giving viewers a momentary pause. “I mean, remember last year when it seemed like the Oscars were racist? It’s gone. Thanks to him! It has been an amazing year for movies: Black people saved NASA and white people saved jazz. That’s what you call progress.”
Kimmel treated the movie-industry crowd to his much-loved late-night style, building them up, then bumping them down. He cleverly opened his monologue thanking the Dolby audience for “letting me be part of this.”
“I’ve never been to the Oscars before,” the TV star said, self-effacingly — which, as you would expect, played very well in the hall.
Then, the trademark Kimmel zinger: “And the way you people go through hosts, it’s probably going to be my last time here.”
Noting French actress Isabelle Huppert was in the hall, Kimmel told her, “I’m glad Homeland Security let you in tonight. We are very welcoming to outsiders here in Hollywood,” Kimmel said, again sucking up to the theater audience. And, as before, he followed with a smack: “We don’t discriminate against people based on what countries they come from. We discriminate against them based on their age and weight.”
Speaking thereof, Kimmel pointed to Andrew Garfield, who he noted had lost 40 pounds for his role in the movie Silence. “It’s an astonishing physical transformation that has been attempted since by every actress in every role ever.”
Kimmel also made a point to single out Meryl Streep, who famously torched President Trump during an earlier, Golden Globe Awards acceptance speech. “We are here tonight to honor great actors. But we’re also here to honor actors who seemed great but actually really aren’t.. 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. 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 her lackluster career. This is Meryl’s 20th Oscar nomination, made even more amazing considering the fact she wasn’t in a movie this year.”
He told the crowd to give her a round of applause; they gave her a standing ovation, then Kimmel wrapped up the bit with a bow, saying to Streep, “Nice dress, by the way – is it an Ivanka?”
Concluding his opening monologue, Kimmel said he thought it was important for people in the hall to appreciate the moment. “We’re at the Oscars! The Academy Awards! You’re nominated! … Some of you will get to come up on this stage tonight and give a speech that the President of United States will tweet about in all caps during his 5 AM bowel movement tomorrow, and I think that’s pretty darned excellent, if you ask me!”
In December the Academy and ABC announced Jimmy Kimmel would host this year’s Oscars. He previously hosted the Emmy Awards, for which he got rave review. ABC renewed its deal to broadcast the Oscars through 2028 and had wanted its signature late-night host helming this year’s ceremony. It worked in the network’s favor that the Academy got such a late start on its search for a host Kimmel became the safe choice, particularly with less than a dozen weeks to go before the Oscarcast. Big star talent is usually booked nine months to a year in advance, and preparing for the global glare of an Oscar broadcast is an all-consuming task.