Two black film stars took the early acting honours at the 89th Oscars on Sunday, which began with a salvo of jokes by host Jimmy Kimmel targeting US President Donald Trump.
won the best-supporting-actor prize for his turn as a drug dealer with a heart in coming of age drama “Moonlight” while Viola Davis took the supporting actress statuette for her work in the family drama “Fences.”
Justin Timberlake opened the gala night — expected to be dominated by musical “La La Land” — with some upbeat music, and Kimmel then wasted no time putting the A-list audience in a political state of mind.
“This broadcast is being watched live by millions of Americans and around the world in more than 225 countries that now hate us,” joked the 49-year-old Kimmel.
The late-night comedian quipped that Trump, who pulled off a political upset win with his campaign that targeted immigration, had taken the heat off Hollywood and its annual gala.
“I want to say thank you to President Trump. Remember last year when it seemed like the Oscars were racist? That’s gone, thanks to him,” Kimmel said.
This year’s nominees have reflected a push by the Academy to reward diversity after the #OscarsSoWhite controversy of the past two years that prompted calls for a boycott of the annual bash.
Ali was a first-time nominee along with “Moonlight” co-star Naomie Harris, while Davis and her co-star Denzel Washington are both old hands, with 11 nominations between them and — including Davis’s triumph — three wins.