Kimmel zeroed in, as might have been expected, on Trump's controversial travel ban and tweeting habits. But they weren't all directed at Trump. They also targeted the Oscars themselves, Mel Gibson and (even though people may not have realized it at the time) Ben Carson.
Below, a recap of the jokes, ranked in ascending order.
9. “This broadcast is being watched live by millions of Americans and around the world in more than 225 countries that now hate us.”
Travel ban joke. It was decent.
8. To French actress Isabelle Huppert, who was nominated for best actress for “Elle”: “You were amazing in that film, and I'm glad Homeland Security let you in tonight. I really am.”
Another pretty predictable travel ban joke.
7. Tweeting at Trump at 10:50 p.m.
Tweeting on-air at the Oscars has kind of been done, as has the Trump Twitter thing (see the end of this list). This would have worked better if Trump, who was at the Governors' Ball in Washington, actually responded.
A former campaign spokeswoman did take the bait, though:
Kind of insider-y. Good dismount.
5. "'Doctor Strange' was nominated for Outstanding Visual Effects and was also named secretary of housing and urban development.”
Very insider-y. I doubt most anyone realized Kimmel was, in effect, calling Ben Carson “Dr. Strange.”
4. On Streep: “We are here tonight to honor great actors, but we're also here to honor actors who seem great, but actually really aren't. And of all the great actors here in Hollywood, one in particular has stood the test of time for her many uninspiring and overrated performances. From her mediocre early work in The Deer Hunter and Out of Africa, to her underwhelming performances in Kramer vs. Kramer and Sophie's Choice, Meryl Streep has phoned it in for more than 50 films over the course of her lackluster career. This is Meryl's 20th Oscar nomination, made even more amazing considering the fact that she wasn't even in a movie this year; we just wrote her name down out of habit. Meryl, stand up if you would. Everybody please join me in giving Meryl Streep a totally undeserved round of applause. The highly overrated Meryl Streep, everyone. We're gonna have fun tonight — I hope we're gonna have fun tonight. Nice dress by the way. Is that an Ivanka?”
This was funnier in real time than on paper. Kimmel's use of Trump-speak to deride Streep as untalented played well with the crowd (as you might expect). Another good dismount.
3. “I want to say thank you to President Trump. I mean, remember last year when it seemed like the Oscars were racist? That's gone. Thanks to him.”
This was how Kimmel broke the ice at the start of his monologue, making clear the elephant in the room wouldn't be ignored. It had the dual purpose of also referring to the Oscars' own past controversy in a kind of self-deprecating way. Points for weaving those together.
2. “As you know — I don't have to tell anybody — the country is divided right now. I've been getting a lot of advice. People have been telling me, 'It's time to bring everyone together. You need to say something to unite us.' Let's just get something straight off the top, I'm not — I can't do that. There's only one Braveheart in this room and he's not going to unite us either, okay? Mel, you look great. I think the Scientology is working, I really do.”
Gibson's reemergence as the Oscar-nominated director of “Hacksaw Ridge” brings to light some less-than-proud moments in his past. This might have been Kimmel's most biting joke because of its subtext.
1. “Some of you will get to come up here on this stage tonight and give a speech that the president of the United States will tweet about in ALL CAPS during his 5 a.m. bowel movement tomorrow, and I think that's pretty darn excellent if you ask me. So let's get going.”
It probably says something about me and my level of maturity that I laughed about this pretty hard. It may not have been the most clever joke, but it landed well with the “pretty darn excellent” punctuation at the end.