The 78th Golden Globes Awards, presented by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), have been announced in a lively, largely virtual event that linked the east and west coasts of the United States. Tina Fey, broadcasting from (where else?) 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City, and Amy Poehler, at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles, addressed remote nominees on couches and kitchen stools throughout the world.
Chloé Zhao's Nomadland, starring Frances McDormand as a financially embarrassed senior adrift in a lonely America, won best dramatic film and, already winner of the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, solidified its status as favourite for best picture at the Oscars. Ms Zhao became only the second woman — after Barbra Streisand nearly 40 years ago — to win best director at the Globes.
Chadwick Boseman, who died tragically young last August, became a rare posthumous acting winner for his role as a troubled jazz musician in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. Few moments in Globes history have been so moving as the acceptance speech from Boseman's widow Taylor Simone Ledward.
“He would thank God,” she said through tears. “He would thank his parents. He would thank his ancestors for their guidance and their sacrifices.” Boseman took the prize for best actor in a drama.
In a huge shock, Andra Day, probably the least fancied of the five nominees, won best actress in a drama for her brilliant turn as the title character in The United States vs Billie Holiday.
Sacha Baron Cohen took a few amusing digs at Rudy Giuliani, his reluctant co-star in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, when accepting the award for best musical or comedy film. Cohen also triumphed as best actor in a comedy or musical. "Donald Trump is contesting the result," he said. "He's claiming that a lot of dead people voted. Which is a very rude thing to say about the HFPA."
Alas, none of the Irish nominees grabbed a Globe. Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart's Wolfwalkers, from Kilkenny's Cartoon Saloon, lost best animated feature to Soul, the latest from Pixar, but the historical fantasy remains in serious competition for the upcoming Oscars.
Brendan Gleeson, nominated for playing Donald Trump in The Comey Rule, lost to John Boyega for best supporting actor in a TV series. Normal People, the hit Sally Rooney adaption, couldn't get past The Queen's Gambit for best miniseries.
It has been a difficult year for the organisers. As well as the ongoing pandemic, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which has presented the awards since 1944, has had to cope with embarrassing revelations in the Los Angeles Times.
The paper claimed that the non-profit organisation had paid nearly $2 million dollars to its members. It was suggested that the makers of Emily in Paris, which received two nominations, had treated voters to a luxury stay in Paris. Adding embarrassment upon embarrassment, the Times also noted that not one of the 87 members is black.
Fey and Poehler, in their split-screen opening monologue, could not reasonably ignore that last awkwardness. Fey described the HFPA as “around 90 non-black journalists”. She ended by noting that: “You’ve got to change that. We’re looking forward to that change.”
The HFPA will have been relieved that the first two awards went to black (British, as it happened) actors. Daniel Kaluuya won best supporting actor in a film for his turn as Fred Hampton, prominent member of the Black Panther Party, in Judas and the Black Messiah. John Boyega won for Steve McQueen's Small Axe.
They will have been less happy that Kaluuya's audio went dead as he began his acceptance speech, but the technical problems were soon ironed out. Three representatives of the HFPA emerged shortly afterwards to make an awkward commitment to change. "We must have black journalists in our organisation," Helen Hoehne, a German member, deadpanned.
There were more surprises. Maria Bakalova, the Bulgarian actor who came from nowhere to steal Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, was expected to take best actress in a musical or comedy, but a visibly surprised Rosamund Pike received the prize for the thriller I Care a Lot.
“In my movie I had to swim up from a sinking car. I’d rather do that than be in a room with Rudy Giuliani. Maria, I salute your brilliance and your bravery,” she said.
Jodie Foster, curled up on the couch with her wife and dog, seemed equally astonished to pass out Amanda Seyfried, strong favourite for Mank, in the best supporting film actress race. "I am a little speechless. I just never expected to be here again," she said. Foster won for her role as lawyer Nancy Hollander in Kevin Macdonald's Guantanamo Bay drama The Mauritanian.
In the TV section, the Globes continued its love affair with The Crown. Josh O'Connor, who plays Prince Charles, and Emma Corrin, Princess Diana in the Netflix show, won lead acting prizes. Gillian Anderson, Margaret Thatcher in the current season, took best supporting actress for a TV series. The show also won best drama series.
Under normal circumstances, the presentation of the Cecil B DeMille Award — the Globe's lifetime achievement gong — to Jane Fonda would have generated the most rapturous of standing ovations. Ever the professional, Fonda made the best of the more low-key ceremony. The word "diversity" appeared more than once in a speech that implicitly addressed the HFPA's awkward controversies.
“There is a story we’ve been afraid to see and hear about ourselves in this industry,” she said. “A story about which voices we respect and elevate and which we tune out, a story about who we offer a seat at the table and who is kept out of the room where decisions are made. Let’s all of us — including those who decide who gets hired and who wins awards — let’s all of us make an effort to expand that tent.”
The Globes have only limited value as predictors for the upcoming Academy Awards, but the winners here can now claim to have a precious commodity: momentum. We will learn if that matters when the Oscar nominations emerge on March 15th.
THE 2021 GOLDEN GLOBE AWARDS
Best Motion Picture – Drama
Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama
Andra Day, The United States vs. Billie Holiday
Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy
Sacha Baron Cohen, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Best Director – Motion Picture
Chloé Zhao, Nomadland
Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama
Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Best Television Limited Series, Anthology Series or Motion Picture Made For Television
The Queen’s Gambit
Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy
Anya Taylor-Joy, The Queen’s Gambit
Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Supporting Role
Gillian Anderson, The Crown
Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a by Motion Picture
Jodie Foster, The Mauritanian
Best Television Series – Drama
Best Motion Picture – Foreign Language
Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Drama
Josh O’Connor, The Crown
Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy
Rosamund Pike, I Care a Lot
Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy
Schitt’s Creek – Pop TV
Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy
Jason Sudeikis, Ted Lasso
Best Original Score – Motion Picture
Soul: Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, Jon Batiste
Best Original Song – Motion Picture
Io Sì (Seen), The Life Ahead
Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Drama
Emma Corrin, The Crown
Best Screenplay – Motion Picture
Aaron Sorkin, The Trial of the Chicago 7
Best Performance by an Actor in a Limited Series, Anthology Series or a Motion Picture Made For Television
Mark Ruffalo, I Know This Much Is True
Best Motion Picture – Animated
Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy
Catherine O’Hara, Schitt’s Creek
Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Supporting Role
John Boyega, Small Axe
Best Performance by a Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture
Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah