The National Board of Review dinner is like the big pre-game to the Golden Globes,where wine bottles are uncorked in New York and don’t stop flowing until the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s gala on Sunday. But according to Variety, “This year’s ceremony will forever be remembered for its nine-minute tour-de-force speech from Meryl Streep.
“Streep, for once, wasn’t invited to accept an award. Instead, she was there to honor Emma Thompson for her portrait as “Mary Poppins” creator P.L. Travers in Disney’s “Saving Mr. Banks.”
“There was plenty of effusive Thompson praising in the speech — with phrases like “she’s practically a saint” and “she’s a beautiful artist” — and it ended with a poem that Streep had written for her friend titled “An Ode to Emma, Or What Emma is Owed.” But Streep also made a point of blasting Walt Disney for his sexist and anti-Semitic stances.
“The edgy riff offered a different perspective on Disney from the sugarcoated hero played by Tom Hanks in “Saving Mr. Banks.” Streep was once rumored to be in the running for the role of P.L. Travers, although her remarks suggest why she might not have pursued the project.
“Some of his associates reported that Walt Disney didn’t really like women,” Streep said, quoting esteemed animator Ward Kimball on his old boss: “He didn’t trust women or cats.”
“Streep talked about how Disney “supported an anti-Semitic industry lobbying group” and called him a “gender bigot.” She read a letter that his company wrote in 1938 to an aspiring female animator. It included the line, “Women do not do any of the creative work in connection with preparing the cartoons for the screen, as that task is performed entirely by young men.”
“The quirky National Board of Review committee announces its winners early, so the real surprise is in what they will say on-stage. This year’s list of honorees included Thompson for best actress, Bruce Dern for best actor (“Nebraska”), Will Forte for best supporting actor (“Nebraska”) and Octavia Spencer for best supporting actress (“Fruitvale Station”). The Weinstein Co.’s drama, made only for $1 million, also received recognition for best-directorial debut (Ryan Coogler) and breakthrough performance (Michael B. Jordan).”