×

Trump’s Immigration Speech Slammed By A-Listers at National Board of Review Gala

The National Board of Review annual awards gala is a night to celebrate the best in film, but it also happened to fall on the same night of President Donald Trump’s immigration speech.

As Trump’s immigration speech was being broadcast from the Oval Office across all the major networks on Tuesday, at the same time, stars like Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper, Viggo Mortensen, and Barry Jenkins were accepting awards in New York City — which meant many acceptance speeches were peppered with jabs at the commander in chief.

NBR’s 2019 ceremony — which announces the winners ahead of time — served as a big night for “A Star Is Born,” “Green Book,” “Crazy Rich Asians” and other Oscar hopefuls. A-listers including Steven Spielberg, Stephen Colbert, Meredith Vieira, and Trevor Noah packed the room at Cipriani 42nd Street.

Jenkins, who won best adapted screenplay for “If Beale Street Could Talk,” gave the most fiery speech of the night. As the filmmaker took the podium, he admitted he didn’t realize Trump’s speech was scheduled for the same time as the NBR gala.

“The president is talking right now. Literally right f—ing now,” Jenkins said in the middle of his acceptance speech. “So I can’t help but talk about the president and borders and walls.”

Jenkins juxtaposed Trump’s stance on immigration with many award season movies this year, including frontrunner, “Roma,” which hails from Mexican filmmaker Alfonso Cuaron and stars Mexican actress Yalitza Aparicio.

“There’s a movie called ‘Minding the Gap’ by Bing Liu,” Jenkins went on to say. “The president doesn’t want Bing Liu’s family here. There’s a film ‘The Rider’ by Chloe Zao. The president doesn’t want her here. ‘Roma,’ the president want the people from that film here. He calls them ‘Los Hombres Malos.’ F— him! No walls. No borders. F— him.'”

Jenkins’ speech brought many in the room on their feet for a roaring round of applause.

Later in the night, frequent Trump critic Stephen Colbert introduced Lady Gaga, who won best actress for “A Star Is Born,” which Colbert said was his favorite movie he’s seen in a long time. “I’m so grateful to be here tonight partly because being here means missing the President’s stupid speech at 9 o’ clock,” Colbert said when he took the podium. “But mostly because I get to present this award to Lady Gaga.”

When Gaga came up, the audience laughed when she quipped, “Is Judge Kavanaugh still in office? And Trump is still president?”

Best documentary went to “RGB,” and when the filmmakers of the Ruth Bader Ginsburg doc accepted their award, presented by Vieira, they got a bit political.

“Making this doc during the Trump presidency and Me Too movement taught us how to overcome adversity,” they said. “Justice Ginsburg told us she never lets anger get the best of her. RGB is a role model during these divisive times. But when it comes to her friendship with conservatives…she’s not afraid to engage with and even love her opponents.”

By the time “The Daily Show” host Trevor Noah introduced the cast of “Crazy Rich Asians” for best ensemble, Trump’s speech was over — and Noah made that clear.

“Trump is done now, so we’re good now,” he began. Then, the cast of the record-breaking romantic comedy thanked the industry for finally embracing Asian actors, encouraging more diverse storytelling on screen.

“Crazy Rich Asians” star Constance Wu dedicated the award to “all people who are underrepresented,” and her co-star Gemma Chan said, “We don’t special treatment. We just want opportunity and a seat at the table.”

Michelle Yeoh echoed Chan’s statement, chiming in, “You don’t have to treat us special. Just give us equal opportunity,” she said. “Remember our faces because we’re not going away. Be seen. Be heard. Be proud. And be who you are.”

“Green Book” star Viggo Mortensen spoke of his film’s message of  friendship, and called Trump “Agent Orange” at one point during his speech.

“One could argue we’re in the worst of times, globally,” he said, winning best actor at the NBR gala. “But the acts of kindness, the sincere apologies, the children and all things new in the world are there, if we pay attention to them. They’re there to contrast from the negative aspects of society and remind us of ourselves.”

Politics aside, the night turned into a big celebration for “Green Book” and “A Star Is Born” with Sam Elliott getting the only standing ovation of the night for his supporting actor honor. During Elliott’s speech, he praised Bradley Cooper, who was later introduced by none other than Spielberg, who heralded him as one of the great new directors in the business.

While Spielberg kept his focus on Cooper and away from politics, even the newcomer of the night got in a dig at Trump. Thomasin McKenzie, who won breakthrough performance for her work in “Leave No Trace,” won over the room saying we can’t have a kind world “if we build a wall to keep people out,” prompting the night’s emcee Willie Geist to joke the young actress had a “prebuttal to the president’s speech.”

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Good Boys Movie

    Box Office: 'Good Boys' Leads Crowded Weekend With $21 Million

    The Bean Bag Boys, the self-appointed nickname for the trio of best friends in Universal’s “Good Boys,” are conquering much more than sixth grade. They are also leading the domestic box office, exceeding expectations and collecting $21 million on opening weekend. “Good Boys,” which screened at 3,204 North American theaters, is a much-needed win for [...]

  • Amanda Awards

    ‘Out Stealing Horses’ Tops Norway’s 2019 Amanda Awards

    HAUGESUND, Norway —  Hans Petter Moland’s sweeping literary adaptation “Out Stealing Horses” put in a dominant showing at Norway’s Amanda Awards on Saturday night, placing first with a collected five awards, including best Norwegian film. Celebrating its 35th edition this year, the Norwegian industry’s top film prize helped kick off the Haugesund Film Festival and [...]

  • Editorial use onlyMandatory Credit: Photo by

    Richard Williams, 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit' Animator, Dies at 86

    Renowned animator Richard Williams, best known for his work on “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” died Friday at his home in Bristol, England, Variety has confirmed. He was 86. Williams was a distinguished animator, director, producer, author and teacher whose work has garnered three Oscars and three BAFTA Awards. In addition to his groundbreaking work as [...]

  • Instinct

    Locarno Film Review: 'Instinct'

    Now that “Game of Thrones” has finally reached its conclusion, releasing its gifted international ensemble into the casting wilds, will Hollywood remember just what it has in Carice van Houten? It’s not that the statuesque Dutch thesp hasn’t been consistently employed since her startling 2006 breakout in Paul Verhoeven’s “Black Book,” or even that she’s [...]

  • Good Boys Movie

    Box Office: 'Good Boys' Eyes Best Original Comedy Opening of 2019

    Universal’s “Good Boys” is surpassing expectations as it heads toward an estimated $20.8 million opening weekend at the domestic box office following $8.3 million in Friday ticket sales. That’s well above earlier estimates which placed the film in the $12 million to $15 million range, marking the first R-rated comedy to open at No. 1 [...]

  • Pedro Costa’s 'Vitalina Varela' Wins at

    Pedro Costa’s 'Vitalina Varela' Triumphs at Locarno Film Festival

    The 72nd Locarno Film Festival drew to a close Saturday with Portuguese auteur Pedro Costa’s dark and detached film “Vitalina Varela” coming away with several awards together with superlatives from segments of the hardcore cinephile crowd, including jury president Catherine Breillat. In announcing the Golden Leopard prize for the film, as well as best actress [...]

  • Vitalina Varela

    Locarno Film Review: 'Vitalina Varela'

    Frequently beautiful compositions and the theatrical use of a fierce kind of artifice have long been the hallmarks of Portuguese auteur Pedro Costa, regarded by a small but influential group of aesthetes as one of the great filmmakers of our era. For those in tune with his vision, the director’s films offer an exciting lesson [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content