For his debut as the host of the Oscars, Jimmy Kimmel came out swinging. Following a... jaunty... Justin Timberlake performance of that inescapable Trolls song, "Can't Stop the Feeling," the late night personality took playful shots at President Trump, his longtime "rival" Matt Damon, and many of the nominated films. It was funny. It was a little mean. It was very Jimmy Kimmel.
What was the brutalist bit? Probably the one right at the beginning when the bearded comedian made fun of Mel Gibson, the controversial actor nominated for directing the bloody WWII epic Hacksaw Ridge. After mentioning the country's divided political state, the host said he wouldn't be able to bring people together though his monologue. He wasn't there to heal our wounds; he was there to pour salt in them.
"I can't do that," Kimmel said from the stage. "There's only one Braveheart in this room and he's not going to unite us either." As Gibson grinned in the crowd, likely hoping the camera would cut away from him soon, Kimmel continued: "You look great, Mel. I think the Scientology is working." Yikes.
From there, he moved on to a slightly friendly target: Matt Damon, who has a longstanding grudge that's played out across countless viral videos, talk show segments, and hosting bits. If you've never seen Kimmel's show, the jokes might've gone over your head, but for the initiated it was a welcome respite from the slightly nastier jabs. "I've known Matt so long that when I first met Matt, I was the fat one," he joked, before making a pretty hilarious comment about Damon's recent flop The Great Wall.
Kimmel was hardly done there. After a joke about hand-jobs and Moonlight that didn't quite land with the confused audience, he took aim at Manchester by the Sea, which was produced by Amazon Studios, the first of the streaming giants to land a Best Picture nomination. As the company's CEO sat in the audience, Kimmel said the movie should come with a prescription for Zoloft, playing on the awards season trope that director Kenneth Lonergan's film was super depressing. Tough, but fair.
It wasn't the harshest dig, but in the context of the monologue -- which included a line about how no one had heard of Viggo Mortensen's film Captain Fantastic -- it felt like another tweaking of a perceived Hollywood bubble. Some jokes, like the one about Andrew Garfield losing weight for his role in Silence, seemed to go over well in the room. Others, like an extended bit about Meryl Streep, who famously gave a Trump-skewering speech at this year's Golden Globes, felt a bit more strained. (At the very least, Streep's husband didn't look super amused.)
Like Chris Rock's more politically pointed opening routine last year, it was a series of jokes that were perhaps designed to play best outside of the room for people watching (and gasping) along at home. Your enjoyment of it probably depended on if you were sweating it out under the lights. Or yukking it up from your couch.
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