Oprah Winfrey & Meryl Streep: The Best Speeches From Cecil B. DeMille Awards

Jeff Bridges will be the 2019 recipient of the Cecil B. DeMille Award, following the beloved Oprah Winfrey and top Golden Globe nominee, Meryl Streep. His two predecessors knocked their speeches out of the park, receiving standing ovations and critical acclaim. With Bridges’ expansive body of impressive work, we can’t wait to see what he will say on stage. That being said, Winfrey and Streep left such a mark on their audience, how can anyone top them?

Oprah Winfrey speaks out against abuse in her Cecil B. DeMille Speech

In 2018 Winfrey took the stage as the first African American woman to receive the award. That in itself was an accomplishment and came with praise, but Winfrey didn’t just ride the coattails of the honor. She spoke highly of Sidney Poitier and how inspiring it was to see someone who looked like her on stage. The irony — she now stood in his place, inspiring young girls, just like Poitier did for her years ago.

Winfrey’s speech, one that made us wish she would run for president, harnessed the power of the Me Too and Times Up movements. She encouraged women to be strong, to stand up for what’s right and to speak their truth. She praised women who endured abuse for decades and even thanked women who had spoken up and the men who listened.

“For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dared speak the truth to the power of those men. But their time is up.”

Winfrey tugged at heartstrings, referencing the case of a woman who was gang-raped back in 1944 and had passed away ten days before the ceremony. She said the time was up for the abusers and encouraged everyone to do their part, so no one was ever victimized again.

“A new day is on the horizon, and when that new day finally dawns it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in the room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time where nobody ever has to say me too again.”

Winfrey’s speech wasn’t just an inspiring, emotional powerhouse that discussed an uncomfortable topic. It drew from a situation that was currently trending making the speech an unforgettable moment that will transcend time.

Meryl Streep talks politics in her Cecil B. DeMille speech

One year prior to Winfrey’s iconic speech Streep stepped on stage and spoke out against Donald Trump, adding her to a list of celebrities that took a stand. She kicked off with some light-hearted comedy and a dash of reality that got some laughs. She brought attention to several of her comrades in the audience taking the spotlight off of herself for just a moment. The purpose — show that Hollywood was full of “foreigners” and without them, entertainment would suffer.

Streep seamlessly moved from her comical introduction into a conversation about Trump making fun of a reporter with disabilities. With tears in her eyes and a broken voice, she commented on how the “performance” seemed like something out of a movie, a person in power mocking someone lesser than couldn’t be our reality. She reminded the world that when someone in a powerful place behaves in a troubling manner, it trickles down encouraging others to do the same.

“Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence insights violence. When the powerful use definition to bully others, we all lose.”

Streep then told the press they couldn’t let Trump get away with his behavior. She called on the HFPA to protect journalist because they would be essential in shedding light on the truth during the troubling times ahead. They are our first line of defense, and offense. Streep ended her speech with wise words from the late Carrie Fisher — “Take your broken heart. Make it into art.”

Streep’s speech, while not as emotionally triggering as Winfrey’s, was also about an ongoing situation, a never-ending conversation in communities nationwide. Not just that, but anything regarding politics is highly polarizing and garners attention. She was idolized for taking a stand against the “most powerful man” in the nation and her words reverberated through the crowd. Those who stood by her side found her speech to be the first step in buffering the world against the negative repercussions that would come from Trump’s behavior.