Chadwick Boseman posthumously won best actor in a drama for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” Sunday night at the 78th Golden Globe Awards, and Chloe Zhao became the first Asian American woman to win a Globe for best director for her work on “Nomadland.”
“Nomadland” won the Golden Globe for best motion picture, drama, and “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” won best musical or comedy.
In a year when almost all of the nominated films bypassed theatres because of the pandemic, the Globes — the biggest-tent awards show there is, given its dual focus on film and television — in some ways felt rather small. Winners came from films like “Judas and the Black Messiah” and “The Mauritanian,” which have struggled to get noticed. For many people, including some in Hollywood, it was hard to care about little golden thingamabobs at a time when the coronavirus is still killing roughly 2,000 Americans on most days.
After an awkward preshow, during which NBC presenters fawned over homebound nominees like Kate Hudson (“Music”) and Leslie Odom Jr (“Hamilton”), the ceremony jolted to a start with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler returning as hosts. Fey thanked the smattering of first responders who attended the ceremony in person this time around “so the celebrities can stay safe at home.”
Appearing live from different locations (with technology that seemed to stitch them onto a shared stage) Fey and Poehler riffed on how to differentiate movies from television shows — not so easy in the pandemic age, when they have melded together on streaming services. “TV is the one that I watch five hours straight, but a movie is the one I don’t turn on because it’s two hours,” Poehler joked. “I don’t want to be in front of my TV for two hours. I want to be in front of my TV for one hour, five times.”
As has become custom, the hosts mocked the organisation behind the Golden Globes. They ended on a serious note, however, castigating the group for having no Black members.
“Maybe you guys didn’t get the memo,” Fey said. “But you guys got to change that.”
As soon as nominations were announced on February 3, the foreign press association was harshly criticised for overlooking films with mostly Black casts, including Spike Lee’s “Da 5 Bloods.” But the ceremony began with back-to-back honours for Black actors. The night’s first winner was Daniel Kaluuya, for best supporting actor for his performance as the Black Panther leader Fred Hampton in “Judas and the Black Messiah.” John Boyega then won best supporting actor in a TV series for playing a police officer in Amazon’s “Small Axe.”
Pixar’s “Soul,” which featured a Black protagonist — an aspiring jazz musician in search of his inspiration — won the Globe for best animated film.
The 80-some voting members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association have long been painted as out of touch and faintly corrupt. But recent news reports have revealed brutal infighting and a questionable fixation on compensation.
The group has no Black members, The Los Angeles Times discovered. The uproar over that fact gained traction over the weekend as various Hollywood celebrities and industry guilds weighed in with their displeasure. The 18,000 member Directors Guild condemned the group on its Facebook page, writing: “A cosmetic fix isn’t enough. When whole cultures are shut out of the conversation, their art and their voices are shut out as well.”
Other critical voices included GLAAD, Times Up, Color of Change and others. Times Up began using the Twitter hashtag #TIMESUPGLOBES, and the advocacy group took out a full-page ad in The Los Angeles Times. Ava DuVernay, who in 2015 was the first Black woman nominated as best director by the association, tweeted: “Old news. New energy.”
Despite the uproar, it did not appear that anyone was sitting out the night’s festivities, including DuVernay, who was scheduled to introduce a clip of “Hamilton,” which was nominated for best comedy or musical.
“The truth that’s not often discussed is that awards play a part in the economic reality of Black filmmakers, artists of colour and women creators in this business,” DuVernay said in a statement she posted on social media. “Unfortunately, these shiny things matter to those who finance, greenlight, produce, distribute and market our projects.”
The association addressed its diversity problem during the telecast, acknowledging that they had fallen short and vowing to be more inclusive.
“Tonight, while we celebrate the work of artists from around the globe, we recognise we have our own work to do,” Helen Hoehne, the group’s vice president, said in a statement. “Just like in film and television, Black representation is vital. We must have Black journalists in our organisation.”
“We must also ensure everyone, from all underrepresented communities, gets a seat at our table — and we are going to make that happen,” continued Meher Tatna, chairwoman of the board.
“That means creating an environment where diverse membership is the norm, not the exception,” added Ali Sar, the group’s president. “Thank you and we look forward to a more inclusive future.”
Another controversy involved the foreign-language film category. The celebrated “Minari,” about a Korean American family in the Ozarks, was named best foreign-language film. (In a head-scratching policy for an awards show adjudicated by people from overseas, foreign-language films are ineligible for best picture accolades.)
Lee Isaac Chung, who wrote and directed the film, based on his upbringing as a Korean American child in Oklahoma, addressed the controversy in his own way during his acceptance speech. With his young daughter on his lap — she was, he said, his reason for making the film — he said of “Minari”: “It’s about a family trying to learn how to speak a language of its own. It goes deeper than any American language or any foreign language. It’s a language of the heart. I’m trying to learn it myself and pass it on.”
Among TV shows, “The Crown” had a big night. It won best drama, while Emma Corrin received her first Globe for her uncanny portrayal of Princess Diana and Josh O’Connor won his first for his snivelling Prince Charles. Gillian Anderson won her second for playing Margaret Thatcher.
After thanking the association, and the show’s cast and crew in her acceptance speech, Corrin thanked the princess. “Most of all, thank you so much to Diana,” said Corrin, 25, who originated the role and plays the princess from the ages of 16 to 28. “You have taught me compassion and empathy beyond any measure that I could ever imagine, and on behalf of everyone who remembers you so fondly and passionately in our hearts, thank you.”
The TV categories are something of an afterthought at the Globes, which draws its power from proximity to the Oscars. The foreign press association has tried to rectify the imbalance in recent years by rallying behind shows that have yet to pop. Globe voters, for instance, helped “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and “Transparent” gain wider attention.
But the association didn’t stick to its forward-thinking mantra this year, and instead chose Emmy winner “Schitt’s Creek” for best comedy.
It did bestow Apple with its first big prize on Hollywood’s awards circuit when Jason Sudeikis, who stars in “Ted Lasso,” won a Globe for his performance as the sweet and befuddled coach of an English soccer team.
Still sporting his character’s moustache, Sudeikis seemed to be the one actor who eschewed the glam squad, showing up for his first Golden Globe win in a hooded sweatshirt and no planned speech. When he got “a little windy,” his fellow nominee Don Cheadle (“Black Monday”) urged him to wrap it up in one of the lighter moments of the night.
“The Queen’s Gambit” and its young star, Anya-Taylor Joy, won in the limited-series categories. It was the first best limited series win for Netflix.