President Donald Trump wasn't at the 89th Academy Awards ceremony yesterday, but his presence was felt throughout the evening as the film community repeatedly reflected on The Donald's tumultuous presidency.
Host Jimmy Kimmel kicked things off by skewering the naiveté of yesteryear. “Remember last year when it seemed like the Oscars was racist? That's gone, thanks to [Trump],” he said in the opening monologue. “This broadcast is being watched live by millions of Americans and around the world in more than 225 countries that now hate us.”
Then on a more serious note, he pleaded for civility in politics. “The country is divided right now," Kimmel added. "People have been telling me I need to say something to unite us....I’m not the man to unite this country. There are millions and millions of people watching right now, and if every one of you took a minute to reach out to one person you disagree with and have a positive, considerate conversation – not as liberals or conservatives but as Americans – if we all did that it would make America great again. It starts with us.”
Kimmel also mocked Trump's Twitter diatribe against Meryl Streep. At the end of the monologue, he called on the audience to stand up and give a standing ovation to the "totally overrated" Streep, who is a 20-time Oscar nominee. "Meryl Streep has phoned it in for more than 50 films over the course of her lackluster career," he said.
Kimmel wasn't the only one taking swipes at President Trump. Before the first award was handed out, all five directors nominated for Best Foreign Language Film published a letter criticizing the Trump Administration's divisive policies.
"The fear generated by dividing us into genders, colors, religions and sexualities as a means to justify violence destroys the things that we depend on – not only as artists but as humans: the diversity of cultures, the chance to be enriched by something seemingly 'foreign' and the belief that human encounters can change us for the better," the directors wrote. "These divisive walls prevent people from experiencing something simple but fundamental: from discovering that we are all not so different."
During the event, Mexican actor Gael García Bernal used his moment in the spotlight as a presenter to deride Trump's immigration policies, saying, "As a Mexican, as a Latin-American, as a migrant worker, as a human being, I'm against any form of wall that wants to separate us."
"My absence is out of respect to the people of my country and those of other six nations that have been disrespected by the inhumane law that bans entry of immigrants to the U.S.," Farhadi said a statement that Iranian-American businessperson Anouseh Ansari read on his behalf. "Filmmakers can turn their cameras to capture shared human qualities and break stereotypes of various nationalities and religions. They create empathy between us and others, and empathy which we need more than ever."