“I know that being here tonight is a dream come true for most of the people in this room. Thank you for inviting me to be a part of it this year when the world finally got out of the house to see the films you worked so hard to make,” Kimmel, 55, began his opening monologue on Sunday at the Dolby Theatre in L.A. “I also want to say that I am happy to see that Nicole Kidman has finally been released from that abandoned AMC, where she’s been held captive for almost two full years now. It’s good to have you back, Nicole, and thank you for encouraging people who were already at the movies to go to the movie theater.”
The 55-year-old Big Little Lies alum — who starred in a now-viral, post-pandemic commercial for the cinema chain in September 2021 — attended Sunday’s ceremony with husband Keith Urban, where they couldn’t help but chuckle at Kimmel’s jab.
“You know, Tom and James Cameron didn’t show up tonight. The two guys who insisted we go to the theater didn’t come to the theater,” Kimmel quipped. “I mean, how does the Academy not nominate the guy who directed Avatar? What do they think he is, a woman?”
Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water, which is up for Best Picture, even inspired a pointed joke about Nick Cannon’s expansive brood of 12 children. “The sequel to Avatar, it’s the most expensive movie ever made,” the Oscars host noted. “Just to break even, all of Nick Cannon’s kids had to see Avatar four times! And they did I guess?”
The Jimmy Kimmel Live! host’s Sunday appearance also featured hilarious references to the Ozempic diet trend, the popularity of Irish actors earning Oscar nods, Rihanna’s anticipated rendition of “Lift Me Up” — and how Cruise’s Top Gun: Maverick “saved the movies.”
“Everyone loved Top Gun, everyone! I mean, Tom Cruise with his shirt off and that beach football scene? L. Ron [Hubbard], hubba hubba,” Kimmel added, referring to the founder of Church of Scientology, of which the Mission Impossible star, 60, is famously a member.
The comedian, whose Sunday appearance marked his third time emceeing the Oscars ceremony, also praised the astounding amount of first-time nominees, including Jamie Lee Curtis, Michelle Yeoh, Brendan Fraser and Ke Huy Quan.
“Two actors from Encino Man are nominated for Oscars,” Kimmel added, directly addressing Fraser, 54, and Quan, 51. “What an incredible night this must be for the two of you and what a difficult night it must be for [your costar] Pauly Shore.”
“I think it’s probably that I was surprised because I didn’t necessarily think I’d ever do it again or be asked to do it again,” Kimmel told The Hollywood Reporter earlier this month about deciding to host the awards ceremony again. “And it wasn’t one of those situations where they couldn’t get anybody and they asked me at the last minute — I definitely would have said no if that was the case. So, I don’t know, it kind of came out of the blue and they clearly got me at the right moment. I did wait a week to tell my wife [Molly McNearney]. I thought she might react negatively, but she was very positive, so I said, ‘OK, yeah, I’ll do it.’”
While speaking with the outlet, the New York native teased his monologue plans before the big day.
“It’ll be similar to what I’ve done in the past. I don’t have a lot of talents, so there’s not a huge number of areas for me to draw from outside of telling jokes,” he quipped to THR on Tuesday, March 7. “I mean, I am pretty good at drawing cartoons, so I guess I could sit down and do caricatures of the stars? But I particularly enjoy writing jokes for a specific audience, whether that be at the upfronts or a bunch of TV or movie stars. It enables you to be very specific.”