’Big Winners Mostly Among the Predicted with a few Notable Exceptions
With the 77th Golden Globes concluded, Hollywood’s 2020 awards season is officially underway, celebrating the best and brightest that the film and television industries had to offer in the past year.
The Golden Globes took place on Sunday, January 5th at the famous Beverly Hilton hotel in Beverly Hills, California. The ceremony began at 5:00 PM Hollywood time, when stars from around the world took their seats to eagerly await the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s picks for 2019’s best film, show, actor, actress, and so on… as well as the obligatory drama and awkward moments that come with any award show.
The event started far from subtly, as host Ricky Gervais took the stage. A notoriously raw British comedian, Gervais did not shy away from controversy in his opening monologue. He poked fun at just about every industry professional in the room, humorously calling out individuals for their leftist stances on political issues while engaging in an exploitative business led by capitalist juggernauts like Apple, Amazon, and Disney. Add in a Jeffrey Epstein suicide joke, a comparison between Joe Pesci and Baby Yoda, and a shot at Felicity Huffman’s prison sentence, and the night was off to a deliciously cringey start.
Despite his forewarning jests, through, Gervais did not manage to silence the award winners in their acceptance speeches. With few exceptions, it seemed as if each recipient used his or her stage time to make a statement regarding the world’s current turbulent condition.
Upon receiving the award for Best Actress in a Miniseries or TV film, “Fosse/Verdon” star Michelle Williams spoke out for a woman’s right to choose; While accepting his Best Director title for “1917,” Sam Mendes made a sly remark about war that was indubitably tied to President Trump’s recent actions in Iran; Actor Jared Harris also touched on the cost of political lies when getting the Best Limited Series award for the ever-so-relevant “Chernobyl.”
Undoubtedly (and unsurprisingly), however, the social issue most addressed on the stage was climate change. Nobody addressed this topic more profoundly than Joaquin Phoenix, who upon winning Best Actor in a Drama Motion Picture for his performance in “Joker,” took to the stage with peculiar reticence before immediately thanking the HFP for making the event plant-based. He then proceeded to get on Gervais’ level by dropping several f-bombs in calling out Hollywood hypocrisy. The speech was jarring, yet well received, as the actor delivered the message with far more sincerity than Gervais did at the night’s beginning.
Climate change was on many people’s mind throughout the night, especially in light of the ongoing bushfire epidemic in Australia. Russell Crowe even missed winning best actor in a Limited Series or TV Movie for his performance in “The Loudest Voice,” because he was Down Under protecting his house and family from the catastrophic infernos. In absentia, Jennifer Anniston read the New Zeland-born (yet Australian-raised) actor’s acceptance speech, where he definitively articulated the link between the country’s present forest fires and the planet’s continuing climate crisis.
Ellen DeGeneres also started out her speech expressing her concern and love for Australia. DeGeneres was honored with winning the Carol Burnett Award for achievement in television. After her touching words for Australia, the comedian-actress-talk show host shared her humble rise to stardom and her thoughts on the power of television, all with a characteristically stellar mix of endearing humor and unmistakable earnestness.
Later in the evening, actor Tom Hanks won the second special award of the night—the Cecil B. DeMille lifetime achievement award. Hanks gave a deeply impassioned speech and even got choked up while thanking his family. He touched on the duty of an actor to think creatively, know ones part, and “show up on time.”
This brings us to the meat of the event—the actual winners. While the drama, activism, and jokes all make for good television, the Golden Globes are ultimately there to recognize yesteryear’s outstanding works in the entertainment industry.
First off, we obviously had a number of expected outcomes. On the TV side, Brian Cox and Olivia Coleman won best series actor and actress for their respective work in “Succession” and “The Crown.” “Succession” also won Best TV Drama Series while “Fleabag” won in the Comedy category.
As for movies, we saw the anticipated Brad Pitt win Best Supporting Actor for his role in Quentin Tarantino “Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood.” Tarantino himself also won Best Original Screenplay and the film as a whole won Best Film in the Musical or Comedy category. Similarly predictable, the Korean “Parasite” won Best Foreign Language Film, Hildur Guðnadóttir won best original score for “Joker,” and Renée Zellweger won Best Drama Actress for “Judy.”
1917 is Stealth Favorite and Takes Top Drama
The upsets, however, came about in some other fields. As aforementioned, Sam Mendes won Best Director for “1917,” and the movie went on to win Best Film in the Drama category. Neither award was anticipated for Mendes. On the directorial front, he faced competition from the likes of Tarantino and Scorsese. Likewise, for best picture, he went up against bona fide critical hits such as “The Irishman,” “Joker,” and “Marriage Story.” “1917” is yet to get a wide release, however, which may be the reason many people did not foresee its success.
Another upset occurred in the Best Musical/Comedy Actor category, where Taron Egerton won the title for portraying Elton John in “Rocketman.” The thirty-year-old actor beat out stars such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Eddie Murphy, and Daniel Craig. Furthermore, in the Animated Film category, Laika Entertainment’s “Missing Link” beat DreamWorks’ “How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” along with Disney’s triple-threat nominees “The Lion King,” “Toy Story 4,” and “Forzen II.” “Missing Link” performed abysmally in the theaters and director Chris Butler was utterly baffled during his acceptance speech. Evidently, big studios and box office figures do not always correlate with talent or translate to critical success.
That being said, the films that had no box office earnings whatsoever (i.e. the copious direct-to-streaming nominees this year) did far worse than expected at the 77th Golden Globes. Going into the night, Netflix had more film nominations than any other production company. Noah Baumbach’s “Marriage Story” led the race with six nominations, trailed only by Scorsese’s “The Irishman” with five—both of which were Netflix originals.
It seemed as if the Globes was going to be a game-changing event for the streaming world as well as a defining moment for Netflix to rebrand itself as the “prestigious” streaming platform amongst the competition. Maybe just getting the nominations was enough for Netflix to earn this reputation. However, the company walked away with just one film award—Laura Dern for Best Supporting Actress in “Marriage Story.” For all the hype that Netflix’s “The Irishman,” “Dolemite Is My Name,” and “The Two Popes” went in with, they all left empty handed.
Contrary to expectations, perhaps the Hollywood Foreign Press was not quite ready to hold direct-to-streaming titles in the same regards as traditional theatrical releases. Maybe the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences will think otherwise, as they announce the Oscar nominees on January 13th—if nothing else, maybe they’ll at least select a host with a touch more compassion.
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