Mahershala Ali, “Moonlight,” and Viola Davis, “Fences,” win Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress.
LOSANGELES— The 89th Academy Awards kicked off with Justin Timberlake dancing down the Dolby Theatre aisles, Jimmy Kimmel mocking Matt Damon and a standing ovation for the “highly overrated” Meryl Streep.
Timberlake’s ebullient song— “Can’t Stop the Feeling,” fromthe animated film “Trolls”— was an early cue that the Oscars would steer toward festiveness instead of heavy-handed politics. Protests, boycotts and rallies have swirled ahead of Sunday night’s Oscars. But host Kimmel, in his opening monologue, quickly acknowledged that he “was not that guy” to heal a divided America.
Kimmel instead struck an irreverent but sarcastic tone, singling out Streep, whom President Donald Trump derided as “overrated” after her fiery Golden Globes speech last month. Listing some of her credits, Kimmel said Streep has “phoned it in for over 50 films.” He led a standing ovation for the “overrated” actress before adding a pointed punchline: “Nice dress, by theway,” he said. “Is that an Ivanka?”
The host then predicted Trump was sure to tweet about the night’s awards at 5 a.m. “during his bowel movements.”
As expected, the night’s first winner was Ma her sh ala Ali for best supporting actor. The “Moonlight” co-star glowed on the stage as he informed the crowd that he and his wife, Amatus Sami-Karim, welcomed a daughter four days earlier. He thanked his wife for “being such a soldier through the process.”
Most expect another day of sun for 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” took best feature Saturday at the Film Independent Spirit Awards, where “La La Land” wasn’t eligible.
The “Oscars So White” crisis of the last two years was largely quelled this season by a richly diverse slate of nominees, thanks to films like “Moonlight,” “Fences” and “Hidden Figures.” A record six black actors are nominated. For the first time ever, a person of color is nominated in each acting category. And four of the five best documentary nominees were also directed by black filmmakers.
The nominees followthe efforts by Academy of Motions Pictures Arts and Sciences President Cheryl Boone Isaacs to diversify the membership of the largely white, older and male film academy. In June, the academy added 683 new members: 46 percent of them were female; 41 percent were nonwhite; and they pulled from59 countries.
A documentary examining the broad implications of O.J. Simpson’s trial and acquittal on murder charges won the Oscar for best documentary. The ESPN film “O.J.: Made in America” runs seven hours and 47 minutes and is the longest film to win an Academy Award.
“O.J.” documentary director Ezra Edelman paid tribute to Simpson’s late ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and Ron Goldman, whose brutal killings led to the so-called trial of the century against the former NFL great.
The film is one of several documentary contenders this year that examine racial issues in America, including “I Am Not Your Negro” and “13th.”
The academy is hoping to improve on last year’s telecast. The Chris Rock-hosted show drew 34.4 million viewers, an eight-year low.
Politics have taken the spotlight ahead of Hollywood’s big night. On Friday, the United Talent Agency, forgoing its usual Oscar party, instead held a rally protesting Trump over immigration. “We will not tolerate chaos and ineptitude and warm on gering,” Jodie Foster told attendees.
The six directors of the foreign film nominees released a joint statement condemning “the climate of fanaticism and nationalism we see today in the U.S. and in so many other countries.” The signees included Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, whose “The Salesman” is favored to win him his second foreign language Oscar. He isn’t attending the awards in protest of Trump’s proposed travel ban of seven predominantly Muslim nations, including Iran.
U.S. immigration authorities are also barring entry to a 21-yearold Syrian cinematographer who worked on the documentary short nominee “The White Helmets,” about the nation’s civilwar.
Awards for costume design went to “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” and makeup and hairstyling to “Suicide Squad.”
Mahershala Ali accepts the award for best actor in a supporting role for “Moonlight” at the Oscars on Sunday at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.