Things got political at the National Board of Review awards gala in New York on Wednesday night, with many winners making eloquent political statements while expressing their gratitude for being recognized for their work in film.
Upon accepting his award, “Moonlight” director Barry Jenkins noted that being the first black recipient of NBR’s Best Director award reminded him of how in 2012 Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman to receive the Oscar for Best Director.
“The country is changing, the world is changing, and we’re trying to make America great again,” Jenkins said, putting a more positive twist on Donald Trump’s indistinct catch phrase from the presidential campaign.
“There were certain people who just weren’t considered for so long,” he added. “I wanted to acknowledge this because as we make America great again, let’s remember some inconsiderable things in our legacy, because there was a time when someone like me was just not considered.”
Jenkins wasn’t the only award recipient to highlight issues much larger than himself, however. Here are four other winners who used their time in the spotlight to talk about important changes in the both the film industry and the country as a whole.
“‘Moonlight’ brilliantly demonstrates that there is an audience out there that is hungry and desperate to see films made about communities and characters that are so often ignored in film. I want to dedicate this award to all the single parents out there, like my own mother and like [my character] Paula, who are struggling to raise their children under very difficult circumstances in the best way that they know how. You do a phenomenal job and I really applaud you.”
“I also want to thanks all those folks who are physically at Standing Rock and all those people who are supporting them. One of the themes of [‘Hell or High Water’] is looking out only for your own self interests and what that costs not only you but everybody, and those folks at Standing Rock, they were looking out not only for their own interests but for all of our interests, making sure we’re living in a healthy planet…We’re all in this together. I’m rooting for all of us to do our best.”
“Kenneth Lonergan is really my favorite writer and I think he’s a treasure to me and should be to everyone. I wish that our business were a little bit different and that people like Kenny were given the support to do whatever they want, however they want, because it’s really movies like ‘Manchester by the Sea’ that inspire us and keep us all growing and it’s the reason that I love movies, and it’s scripts like this and experiences like this that keep me wanting to act.”
“We are living in very troubled times. How troubled we are, we don’t know yet. It’s going to be a lot of trouble, or it might be bad trouble like we’ve never seen. I hope it’s not that, but if it is, I think that a lot of people here tonight have spoken about the inspiration that we can get from each other. I think we can also get inspiration not just from the quality of work and the kind of work that people here want to do and that people all over the country and world want to see, which I think speaks to people’s desire to connect as human beings, but also to the capacity to endure and overcome obstacles.”