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Meryl Streep Disses Walt Disney, Emma Thompson Disses Perms at National Board of Review Dinner

Photo of Beth Hanna By Beth Hanna | Thompson on Hollywood January 8, 2014 at 12:26PM

The National Board of Review dinner on January 7 reportedly took a nine-minute detour from its regularly scheduled programming when presenter Meryl Streep launched into a lengthy introduction of her pal, "Saving Mr. Banks" star Emma Thompson, which covered everything from Walt Disney's not so spotless track record, to Mozart, Van Gogh and Quentin Tarantino. Oh yeah, and Streep also wore a baseball cap with "Prize Winner" emblazoned on it; she started the speech with "Oh, I'm not the prize winner?"
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Meryl Streep and Emma Thompson at the NBR Awards Dinner
Meryl Streep and Emma Thompson at the NBR Awards Dinner

The National Board of Review dinner on January 7 reportedly took a nine-minute detour from its regularly scheduled programming when presenter Meryl Streep launched into a lengthy introduction of her pal, "Saving Mr. Banks" star Emma Thompson, which covered everything from Walt Disney's not so spotless track record, to Mozart, Van Gogh and Quentin Tarantino. Oh yeah, and Streep also wore a baseball cap with "Prize Winner" emblazoned on it; she started the speech with "Oh, I'm not the prize winner?"

While Streep didn't cut corners on paying Thompson her due (saying she's "practically a saint" and "a beautiful artist"), the news of the night was Streep's diatribe against Walt Disney. Per Variety, she said that he was a "gender bigot," and that: 

"[Disney] didn't trust women or cats...[he also] supported an anti-Semitic industry lobbying group.”

She then read from a 1938 letter from the Disney studio, which was in response to an aspiring woman cartoonist:


“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.”

Per the NYT, Thompson's acceptance speech was equally as notable, if more directed at P.L. Travers' hairstyle:


“It’s been an extraordinary year for women’s roles. I can’t think what gave me the edge. It must’ve been the perm. Which was a great sacrifice -- it meant, of course, no sex for months on end. And then, even then, only with animal noises accompanying it.”

As announced on December 4, the NBR winners included Thompson for Best Actress, Bruce Dern and Will Forte ("Nebraska") for Best Actor and Supporting Actor, Octavia Spencer ("Fruitvale Station") for Best Supporting Actress, while Best Picture and Director went to "Her" and Spike Jonze. 

This article is related to: Awards, Awards Season Roundup, Awards, Meryl Streep, Emma Thompson


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.