Donald Trump. Pic/AFP
Donald Trump. Pic/AFP

Los Angeles: The Academy Awards as expected got political, with host Jimmy Kimmel, presenters and winners making a statement against US President Donald Trump's controversial immigration ban.

Kimmel fired his first salvo at Trump by saying this broadcast is being watched live by millions of Americans and around the world in more than 225 countries that now hate us.
"I want to say thank you to President Trump. I mean remember last year when it seemed like the Oscars were racist?

It has been an amazing year for movies. Black people saved NASA and white people saved jazz. That's what you call progress," he said. He later touched on Trump's "overrated" tweet about Meryl Streep, stemming from her speech this year at the Golden Globe Awards.

Kimmel joked about the 20-time Oscar nominee's "mediocre early work" and "underwhelming" performances, adding that she's "phoned it in for more than 50 films."

Then he made Streep get up for an "undeserved" standing ovation from the audience. The political theme continued as the speeches began, starting with the Italian winners of the Oscar for best makeup and hairstyling.

"I'm an immigrant," one of the winners declared, dedicating his Oscar to other immigrants and drawing a round of applause from the audience.

That was followed by the winner of the best documentary feature. Producer and director Ezra Edelman accepted his award on behalf of victims of police violence, police brutality and criminal injustice.

"This is their story as well as Ron's and Nicole's," he said, referring to murder victims Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown. Viola Davis continued the theme, paying tribute to everyday people as she accepted her first Oscar for best supporting actress.

"You know, there's one place with all the people with the greatest potential are gathered, and that's the graveyard," she said.

"People ask me all the time, 'What kind of stories do you want to tell, Viola?' And I say, exhume those bodies, exhume those stories. The stories of the people who dream big and never saw those dreams to fruition. People who fell in love and lost."

After Davis speech, in which she brought many in the audience to tears, Kimmel joked that she should get an Emmy nomination just for speech.

Accepting the award for best adapted screenplay, "Moonlight" director Barry Jenkins told the audience, "If you feel like there is no mirror for you, the Academy has your back, the ACLU has your back, we have your back and over the next four years we will not leave you alone. We will not forget you."

Tarell Alvin McCraney, whose story and play the screenplay was based on, sent his award out "to all those black and brown boys and girls and non-gender conforming who don't see themselves, we are trying to show you, you and us." Later, the pair returned to the stage along with the rest of the cast and crew of "Moonlight" after the film won best
picture.

As "Moonlight" producer Adele Romanski accepted her trophy she still seemed shaken up but was able to dedicate the award to "little black boys and little brown girls who are watching at home and feel marginalized."

Mexican actor-director Gael Garcia Bernal took a stand against Trump's controversial immigration policies, saying as a human being he was against "any kind of wall that wants to separate us."

The issue of Trump's immigration ban was the crux of Iranian filmmaker "The Salesman" director Asghar Farhadi's speech whne the film was announced best foreign language film.

As promised, Farhadi did not attend the Oscars in protest of the president's executive order temporarily banning travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

Instead, he sent a statement, which was read by a representative of the film, Anousheh Ansari.

Apologizing for his absence, Farhadi wrote, it was "out of respect for the people of my country and those of the other six nations" that have been "disrespected by the inhumane law that bans entry of immigrants to the US."

Also affected by the travel ban was the head of a group of Syrian volunteers featured in the Oscar-winning documentary "The White Helmets."

Instead, the producers read a statement from Raed Saleh, who is Syrian and the leader of the Syria Civil Defense group, saying how grateful they are that the this film has highlighted their work of saving more than 82,000 civilian lives.