During his Oscars monologue, Jimmy Kimmel ripped the Academy for its handling of Will Smith slapping Chris Rock last year.
The 2023 Oscars host took to the stage Sunday night and declared: “We want you to have fun. We want you to feel safe. And most importantly, we want me to feel safe. So we have strict policies in place. If anyone in this theater commits an act of violence at any point during the show, you will be awarded the Oscar for best actor and be permitted to give an 18-minute long speech.”
Kimmel then added: “Seriously, the Academy has a crisis team in place. If anything unpredictable or violent happens during the ceremony, just do what you did last year — nothing. Maybe even give the assailant a hug.”
“Five Irish actors are nominated tonight, which means the odds of another fight on stage just went way up,” he said.
He then listed off a slew of tough-guy characters played by actors seated near the front of the stage who would protect him “if you want to come up here and get jiggy with it.” He added: “We have no time for shenanigans. This is a celebration of everyone here.”
During his monologue, Kimmel also said the following:
— “Tom Cruise and James Cameron didn’t show up. The two guys who insisted we go to the theater didn’t go to the theater.”
— “James Cameron is not here. You know a show is too long when even James Cameron can’t sit through it … Some of the critics are saying Jim Cameron isn’t here because he didn’t get a best director nomination. And while I find that very hard to believe about a man of such deep humility, he does have a point. I mean, how does the Academy not nominate the guy who directed Avatar? What did they think he is, a woman?”
— Steven Spielberg and Seth Rogen are “the Joe and Hunter Biden of Hollywood,” earning some groans from the crowd.
— “Everybody looks so great. When I look around this room, I can’t help but wonder is [weight-loss drug] Ozempic right for me?”
— “All the Top 10 highest-grossing films this year were sequels or franchises. They say Hollywood is running out of new ideas. Even Steven Spielberg had to make a movie about Steven Spielberg.”
— “…. Oscar nomination for the great Michelle Williams [for playing Spielberg’s mother in The Fabelmans]. It wasn’t an easy shoot for Michelle. After almost every take, Spielberg rushed up to her with tears in his eyes and he’d scream, ‘That’s not how mommy said it!’”
— “I know people like to debate now which is better, movies or TV. But here’s the thing: No matter how good a show is, there are some things movies could do that TV just can’t. For example, a TV show can’t lose $100 million. Is the team from Babylon here today?”
— “Batgirl became the first superhero to become defeated by the accounting department.”
— “I’m happy to see Nicole Kidman has been finally released by that abandoned AMC where she’s been held for two years now. Thank you for encouraging people who were already at the movie theater to go to the theater.”
— “It was a year for diversity and inclusion. We have nominees from every corner of Dublin.”
— “I also want to extend congratulations to Steve longtime collaborator, the maestro of John Williams … 91 years old last month and he’s still scoring – if you know what I mean.”
— “Only Walt Disney has been nominated for more Oscars than John Williams. He’s been nominated 53 times. He’s only won five, which is honestly not that great.”
— “A great piece of Oscar trivia: 31 years ago in 1992, Brendan Fraser and Ke Huy Quan were in a movie together … two actors from Encino Man are nominated for Oscars. Incredible night it must be for the two of you and what a very difficult night for Pauly Shore.”
While Cruise snubbed the Oscars by not attending the ceremony, producers did make him part of an opening skit, sort of, by intercutting Kimmel into Cruise’s jet in Top Gun: Maverick.
Later in the night, Kimmel paid tribute to The Banshees of Inisherin by bringing out a donkey onstage wearing an emotional support animal vest. (A Searchlight source later confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter that the donkey was not the real Jenny the miniature donkey featured in the film.)
“This is Jenny … Not only is Jenny an actor, she’s a certified emotional support donkey or at least that’s what we told the airline to get her on the plane from Ireland,” Kimmel quipped. “So if you’re feeling upset or you win or you’re anxious or maybe you just love mules, feel free to come up and give her a hug.” He then directed the donkey to their friends from the film including Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson “whose finger you ate.”
Kimmel also continued to poke some fun when he introduced a segment in which he read questions submitted by viewers.
He read one to Malala Yousafzai: “As the youngest Nobel prize winner in history I was wondering if you think Harry Styles spit on Chris Pine?” — a reference to the viral video where it appears Styles is spitting on his Don’t Worry Darling co-star at the Venice International Film Festival.
“I only talk abut peace,” Yousafzai said to which Kimmel responded, “That’s a great answer Malala. The winner is Malala-land.”
Meanwhile when Farrell was asked what he was saying in The Banshees of Inisherin, the actor acknowledged the recent Saturday Night Live sketch that was criticized by some viewers for being “offensive” for its depiction of Farrell and Gleeson using Irish stereotypes. “I’d like him to go on YouTube and check out SNL last night and he’ll have a good idea,” Farrell said in response.
Kimmel hosted the Oscars for the third time, with the show airing live on ABC from the Dolby Theatre at Ovation Hollywood. Producers opted for a trio of hosts last year, which will forever be remembered as the Oscars when Will Smith walked on stage and slapped presenter Chris Rock, due to a joke aimed at wife Jada Pinkett-Smith shortly before the King Richard star would go on and win the best actor award.
The Slap, or “slapgate,” is likely the most-discussed Oscars moment of all time, sparking the Academy to ban Smith from the ceremony for a decade and for Smith to repeatedly apologize for his actions. It also sparked plenty of chatter about the subject of toxic masculinity and live event security amid an increasingly divisive era.
After keeping (mostly) quiet on the matter for nearly a year, Rock finally gave a public response during his live Netflix special on March 4, angrily mocking Smith.
Before this year’s Oscars, Kimmel was asked by The Hollywood Reporter whether joking about The Slap is boring at this point and he replied, “Well, whatever I say about it, it’s going to have to be great, right? Because so much has been said and there’s so much focus on it. I obviously don’t want to make the whole monologue about that, but it would be ridiculous not to mention it.”
Asked why he agreed to take what’s been described as a thankless job for the third time in a row (he previously hosted in 2017 and 2018), the ABC late-night host explained, “I didn’t necessarily think I’d ever do it again or be asked to do it again. And it wasn’t one of those situations where they couldn’t get anybody and they asked me at the last minute — I definitely would have said no if that was the case. So, I don’t know, it kind of came out of the blue and they clearly got me at the right moment. I did wait a week to tell my wife. I thought she might react negatively, but she was very positive, so I said, ‘OK, yeah, I’ll do it.’”
When the Oscars ceremony came to a close, Kimmel was shown walking backstage to a sign that read “number of Oscars telecasts without incident” only to update the signage with the number “001.”
See the complete winners list from the 95th Academy Awards and view the star-studded Oscars red carpet arrivals.
Lexy Perez contributed to this report.