Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro Get Political at Hollywood Film Awards

Christopher Polk/HFA2016/Getty Images
Leonardo DiCaprio

“We have the opportunity to keep a comedy from turning into a tragedy. Vote for Hillary, Tuesday,” said De Niro during the Sunday night awards ceremony.

At the Hollywood Film Awards, the impending presidential election and the awards themselves were the butt of many of the jokes..

The untelevised awards show, produced by Dick Clark Productions,  took place at the Beverly Hilton on Sunday night and was hosted by James Corden, who opened the night with a confession: “This is my second year hosting the show, and I still have no idea what it is. Literally none of this is real. It’s the awards-show equivalent of a Donald Trump campaign promise.”  

He continued: “This year they brought back Star Wars with a female lead. They rebooted Ghostbusters with a female cast. And I pray to God they reboot the Clinton presidency with a female lead.”

This is the 20th edition of the Hollywood Film Awards, which bills itself as the official launch of the awards season. Naomie Harris, Lily Collins, Janelle Monae, Mel Gibson and Tom Ford were honored in categories that ranged from Hollywood Spotlight Award to Breakthrough Director Award.

“A Hollywood Film Award sounds like something Michael Bay gives to himself on Christmas morning just to make him feel better,” joked Corden in his roast-esque opening.

From left: Ben Silverman, Kate Hudson, Jill Soloway, Don Lemon

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A few honorees defended the awards show. 

Hugh Grant, who accepted the Hollywood Supporting Actor Award from his Four Weddings and a Funeral co-star Andie MacDowell, said, “I just want to say to the HFAs that people are being rather snotty about you, but I am very pleased. I don’t get a lot of awards.”

The English actor then outlined his intentions to showcase the award as a decorative broach or possibly a hat. 

Hollywood Song Award recipient Justin Timberlake, whose Trolls song “Can’t Stop the Feeling” had the entire ballroom singing, reasoned that “HFA could stand for ‘Hella F**kin’ Awesome.'”  

Still, the main focus of the night was not the awards, but rather the presidential race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

While accepting the Hollywood Comedy Award for his performance in The Comedian, Robert De Niro compared Trump to the fictional, ill-suited leaders in Groucho Marx’s Duck Soup and Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove.

“We are two days from a frightening election. The shadow of politics is hanging over us whether we like it or not. It’s hard for me to think about anything else,” said De Niro. “Let me just lay it out right here: We have the opportunity to keep a comedy from turning into a tragedy. Vote for Hillary, Tuesday.” 

“As a right-wing Republican, I believe that science is just for p—ssys and Jews,” joked Jonah Hill as he introduced his Wolf of Wall Street  co-star DiCaprio, who was accepting the Hollywood Documentary Award along with director Fisher Stevens for their work on National Geographic’s climate change doc Before the Flood

Following Hill’s farcical intro, DiCaprio gave a sober speech, saying: “If you don’t believe in climate change, you might as well not believe in gravity. There is no more time for arguing or fighting the facts or spreading campaigns with misinformation.”

He urged the audience: “Let’s all use our power as citizens to do the right thing. Please vote this Tuesday, Nov. 8.” 

Clint Eastwood and Susan Sarandon were on hand to present acting awards to Sully‘s Tom Hanks and Jackie‘s Natalie Portman, respectively. In the past, both Eastwood and Sarandon have been very vocal about their political views but, unlike many of the presenters before them, neither brought up the election during their introductions. (Although, in his opening monolog, Corden did offer: “Susan Sarandon endorsed Jill Stein. That’s it. That’s the joke.”)

The final award of the night, the Hollywood Career Achievement Award, was presented to Eddie Murphy, who took to the stage amid a standing ovation from the audience.

Jeffery Katzenberg presented Murphy with the honor, lauding the actor for his comedic talents and a career that has spanned over three decades in the entertainment industry, but not before he informed the audience of the latest early voting result out of Florida.

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