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Barbra Streisand took the stage Sunday at the 2019 Oscars to introduce best picture nominee BlacKkKlansman. In a touching speech, the Academy Award-winning actress revealed what she loved so much about Spike Lee’s critically acclaimed film.
“When I first saw BlacKkKlansman, I was stunned. I was very excited, and I was very moved. It had everything a great film should have. It was so real, so funny and yet to horrifying because it was based on the truth,” said Streisand. “And truth is especially precious these days.”
Added the avid social media user: “I had to tweet about it, about how good it was, and then I got a lovely thank you from Spike himself. And the conversation after that was very easy because we were both raised in Brooklyn.”
When Streisand brought up her and Lee’s beloved hometown, he stood up from his seat and clapped his hands. “And Spike, we both love hats,” she continued, calling out both her own and Lee’s stylish headwear.
“So, after a lifetime of bold, game-changing work, here is Spike Lee’s masterpiece,” Streisand said, seemingly referencing the fact that despite decades of groundbreaking work, BlacKkKlansman is Lee’s first film to be nominated for an Oscar. “The story of the first African-American detective in the Colorado Springs Police Department who joins forces with his Jewish colleague to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan — that is funny already.”
She then noted that BlacKkKlansman is an “unflinching look at race relations in America back in the 1970s.” But, in today’s political and social climate — marked by emboldened attacks on minorities — Streisand said that she believes the film is “just as relevant today.”
Earlier in the evening, Lee won the Oscar for best adapted screenplay for BlacKkKlansman, which is based on Ron Stallworth’s 2014 memoir of the same name. It marked Lee’s first-ever competitive Academy Award win, which he shares with Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz and Kevin Willmott.
During his acceptance, Lee gave a powerful speech about slavery and racism in the U.S. “Before the world tonight, I give praise to our ancestors who helped build this country into what it was today along with the genocide of its native people. If we all connect with our ancestors, we will have love and wisdom,” he said. “We will regain our humanity. It will be a powerful moment.”
Lee, a vocal critic of President Donald Trump, also encouraged people to vote in the 2020 presidential election. “Let us all mobilize. Let us all be on the right side of history. Make the moral choice between love versus hate,” he said. “Let’s do the right thing! You know I had to get that in there.”
The 91st Academy Awards were broadcast live on ABC from the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. For the first time in 30 years, the awards show did not have a host. Head here for the list of winners.