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From the outset of the Academy Awards on Sunday night, host Jimmy Kimmel suggested there would be moments when the speeches would take a political turn.
« Over the course of this evening, I hope you will listen to many brave and outspoken supporters of movements like Time’s Up, Me Too and Never Again because what they’re doing is important, » he said during his show-opening monologue in Los Angeles.
« Things are changing for the better. They’re making sure of that. »
The comedian and late-night talk show host, Oscars emcee for a second straight year, mixed comedy with serious commentary. And some performers, presenters and award recipients also used their moment on Hollywood’s biggest night to speak out.
Here are four times the 90th Academy Awards got political:
‘Tell the NRA they in God’s way’
Rapper Common and singer Andra Day performed the Oscar-nominated song Stand Up for Something, featured in Marshall, the biopic about Thurgood Marshall, the first black U.S. Supreme Court justice.
Joining the pair onstage were activists including Tarana Burke, creator of the Me Too campaign, Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards and Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of Black Lives Matter.
In his performance, Common referenced the recent high school shooting in Parkland, Fla.
« Tell the NRA they in God’s way. And to the people of Parkland, we say Ase, » he rapped.
Ase is a West African philosophy that means make things happen and produce change.
Following the Florida shooting, which left 17 people dead, gun control advocates — including student survivors — criticized the National Rifle Association, a powerful gun lobby in the U.S.
Kimmel also threw his support to « the amazing students from Parkland, » who later this month plan to march in Washington to demand gun reform and are responsible for the #NeverAgain hashtag that promotes gun control. George and Amal Clooney are among those who have pledged to join the rally on March 24.
« If you want to encourage others to join … do that, » Kimmel said.
‘Shut up and dribble’
Five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant added another trophy to his collection on Sunday: an Oscar for Dear Basketball. The film, based on Bryant’s retirement announcement post on The Players’ Tribune website, won best animated short.
« I feel better than winning a championship, to be honest with you. I swear I do, » the retired player later told reporters in the media room.
During his acceptance speech, however, he referenced a politically charged exchange between NBA star LeBron James and U.S. political pundit Laura Ingraham.
« As basketball players, we’re supposed to shut up and dribble, » Bryant said. « I’m glad we’re doing much more than that. »
Ingraham slammed James for criticizing U.S. President Donald Trump and the country’s racial climate, advising him to « shut up and dribble. »
James responded that black athletes have historically spoken out about injustices and inequality.
Bryant’s latest honour comes amid the Me Too and Time’s Up movements to expose abuse and harassment. But his own life hasn’t been without scandal. In 2003, during his time as a player, he was accused of sexually assaulting a 19-year-old hotel employee. He admitted to a sexual encounter with the woman, but denied the assault allegation. The criminal case was later dropped and a civil suit was settled out of court.
Get Out writer-director Jordan Peele also addressed race in his acceptance speech for best original screenplay. The film follows an interracial couple — a black man and a white woman — who visit her parents’ strange, mysterious country estate.
Peele said he stopped writing Get Out « 20 times, » skeptical that it would ever get made.
« But I kept coming back to it because I knew if someone would let me make this movie, that people would hear it and people would see it, so I want to dedicate this to all the people who raised my voice and let me make this movie. »
Me Too and Time’s Up
Although there was no Golden Globes-like dress code — wearing all black in solidarity with Me Too and Times Up campaigns to stop sexual misconduct — the two movements were still highly visible at the Oscars.
Sam Rockwell, who won best supporting actor for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, wore a Time’s Up pin. Sandra Bullock also promoted Time’s Up on her clutch.
Me Too founder Burke walked the carpet Sunday with her sister. Burke said it is still a joyous occasion and that they’re at the Oscars to celebrate how much the movement has grown in less than six months.
Burke said they did the « dress code thing » and now they’re doing the work.
For his part, Kimmel’s opening monologue mixed Harvey Weinstein punchlines with earnest comments about reforming gender equality in Hollywood.
Gesturing to a giant statue on the stage, he praised Oscar himself for keeping « his hands where you can see them » and for having « no penis at all. »
Weinstein has been accused by dozens of women of sexual misconduct. Three of them — Ashley Judd, Annabella Sciorra and Salma Hayek — appeared onstage together to a standing ovation, and proclaimed « time’s up » for sexual impropriety and inequality.
« We work together to make sure the next 90 years empower these limitless possibilities of equality, diversity, inclusion and intersectionality, » said Judd. « That’s what this year has promised us. »
The three then introduced a montage celebrating diversity in film.
In her acceptance speech for best actress, Frances McDormand asked every female Oscar nominee to stand up, generating thunderous applause.
McDormand, who won her role in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, appeared joyous as she looked out at the women.
‘I am an immigrant’
Taking to the stage as presenters, Pakistan-born comedian Kumail Nanjiani joined Kenyan-born Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o to salute the so-called Dreamers — immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children and allowed to stay without permanent protection from deportation.
« Dreams are the foundation of Hollywood and dreams are the foundation of America. And, so, to all the Dreamers out there, we stand with you, » Nanjiani said.
Common also referenced the Dreamers in his performance, saying: « We stand up for the Dreamers. We stand up for the immigrants. »
Accepting the best-director Oscar for his work in the Cold War fantasy drama The Shape of Water, which was later named best picture, Mexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro also espoused the virtues of immigration.
« I am an immigrant, » said del Toro, who maintains residences in Los Angeles and Toronto.
« The greatest thing our art does and our industry does is to erase the lines in the sand. We should continue doing that when the world tells us to make them deeper. »
Del Toro’s comments may have been aimed at U.S. President Donald Trump.
Trump has been critical of U.S. immigration policy, has unsuccessfully moved to rescind protections for Dreamers, and reportedly questioned why the U.S. would accept more immigrants from Haiti and « shithole countries » in Africa.
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