The Highs and Lows of the 76th Annual Golden Globe Awards
Well, that was … interesting. As I have written at length about what the Golden Globes are and the details of the individual races, I will dive right in to my recap. I start with discussing the winners (which included countless shocks and snubs) and then move on to reviewing the highs and lows of the telecast.
FIVE TAKEAWAYS FROM THE FILM WINNERS
- Bohemian Rhapsody and Green Book win huge despite tepid reviews. The blockbuster Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody took home Best Motion Picture — Drama and the gentle Civil Rights era tale Green Book took home Best Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy. Both were generally well liked by audiences, but have the notoriety of garnering some of the weakest reviews of any films to take the top award at the Globes. With an abysmal 49/100 on Metacritic and 62% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, Bohemian Rhapsody got by far the worst reviews of any of the 10 nominees. Green Book fared slightly better with a 70/100 and an 81% approval rating, but it was still only the 7th best reviewed picture in the Globes lineup. But it’s not just the mediocre reviews that made their wins shocking. Both films have received huge amounts of criticism from the communities they supposedly represent. Bohemian Rhapsody has been derided for its portrayal of its subject’s sexuality and racial background, whereas Green Book has been chided for being revisionist history, both as film about race and the real people it was supposed to depict. The fact that there is no overlap in the HFPA membership and the Academy, as well as the fact that in 3 of the last 4 years neither Globes Best Picture went on to take the Oscar, means that these wins don’t have a huge impact on their Oscar chances. Nevertheless, they were shocking.
- A Star is Born is shockingly snubbed in every major category. Perhaps even more shocking than those big wins is the abysmal showing by A Star is Born. Given the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s love of A-listers, musicals, and Lady Gaga, it was the frontrunner in every category in which it was nominated. It only won one trophy — Best Original Song for the smash hit “Shallow.” Cooper and Gaga could rebound, particularly if they do well at the Critics’ Choice and Screen Actors Guild awards, but this is not the type of buzz they need as Oscar voting gets started.
- Glenn Close may have just won herself an Oscar (finally). With the exception of Bohemian Rhapsody winning Best Picture, the biggest upset of the night was Glenn Close beating Lady Gaga for her little-seen independent film The Wife. I expected Close to be a major Oscar player for this role as she is one of the biggest losers in Oscar history (she has 6 acting nominations and has yet to win), but the Globes have honored her twice before. Close’s defeat of Gaga is a big headline-grabber and her rousing, heartfelt and all around stunning speech was one of the highlights of the night. Any Academy voter who hasn’t checked out The Wife yet is likely to now (and therein lies the power of the Globes).
- Regina King is still in this. Regina King’s nearly unprecedented domination of awards season came to an abrupt halt when she was shockingly omitted from the list of finalists at the Screen Actors Guild Awards. She needed a win here to stay in the conversation, and win she did. It helps that she gave a wonderful acceptance speech. She may very well become the first person since Marcia Gay Harden nearly 20 years ago to win the Best Supporting Actress Oscar without receiving a SAG nomination.
- It’s still unclear where Roma stands. Because Roma was ineligible in the Best Motion Picture — Drama category due to Globes rules, it’s impossible to know whether the HFPA’s love of the film (it won Best Director and Best Motion Picture — Foreign Language) would have translated into an upset over Bohemian Rhapsody. Regardless, it did well here and is still a real player come Oscar time.
[Note: Of the 14 film categories, I only predicted 5 of the winners (which was my worst showing in years). Either I’ve lost my touch or this is one wildly unpredictable awards season — or both.]
NOTES ON THE TELEVISION WINNERS
The only two predictable things about the Golden Globe television awards is that the voters love shows in their first season and the winners are almost always exceedingly random. This year did not deviate. Here are some scattered thoughts:
- The Americans bucked the trend of awarding a series in a top category late in its run (the show was nominated for Best Television Series — Drama for its 6th and final season after not receiving a single Globe nomination in any category for its first 5). The only other series to do something similar at the Globes in the last 2 decades was Breaking Bad.
- Similarly bucking a trend was Rachel Brosnahan, who became the first person to win more than one Globe in the Best Actress in a Television Series — Musical or Comedy category since Tina Fey picked up her second trophy for 30 Rock a decade ago.
- Sandra Oh became the first Asian-American to win Best Actress in a Television Series — Drama and her win was one of the highlights of the night.
- Richard Madden and Michael Douglas’s wins for Best Actor in a Television Series — Drama and Musical or Comedy, respectively, were classic Globes wins. One was a sexy young star on a brand new show, the other was a Hollywood A-lister on a brand new show.
- The Kominsky Method’s win for Best Television Series — Musical or Comedy marked a big moment for Chuck Lorre. The super producer behind such megahits as Two and a Half Men and The Big Bang Theory (not to mention the criminally underrated Mom) has only ever one such a high profile award once before — this exact one for Cybill 23 years ago.
- The wins for Assassination of Gianni Versace continues the show’s impressive (and deserved) awards dominance.
- Patricia Arquette’s win for Escape at Dannemora over a stacked category that included Amy Adams, Regina King, Laura Dern, and Connie Britton genuinely surprised me and has me eager to check out the show.
[Note: Of the 11 television categories, I also only predicted 5 of the winners. However, the television categories are notoriously scattershot, so I am not too embarrassed by the poor performance here.]
REVIEWING THE TELECAST
The Hosts. I expected Sandra Oh and Andy Samberg to be an inspired duo and I was not disappointed. Although there were few particularly memorable jokes and they stumbled their delivery of a couple, I found it much less painful than recent awards show hosting gigs. They moved on so quickly from quip to quip that it didn’t matter if one fell flat. They had great chemistry and — more importantly — terrific energy. They weren’t afraid to get serious. And they kept it very brief. Others will disagree, but I declare it a win.
The Presenters. Although most of them rushed on and off stage with barely any time to do the stock banter, I actually thought the telecast did a great job of selecting stars.
We got multiple cast members of nominated films like A Star is Born, Black Panther, The Favourite, BlacKkKlansman, and Mary Poppins Returns presenting together, as well as the ensembles of the highest rated comedy and drama on TV — The Big Bang Theory and This is Us.
Then there were those who made significant impacts this year but weren’t nominated, like Ben Stiller (who directed Escape at Dannemora) and Jamie Lee Curtis (who had a great comeback with the Halloween sequel), not to mention Hollywood A-listers that are relevant in any year, regardless of whether they worked or not (Harrison Ford, Halle Berry, Bill Murray, Anne Hathaway, and Nicole Kidman).
There were also two hilariously memorable pairings. Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph’s bit may not have reached the heights of Poehler’s previous shtick with Tina Fey, but it vastly exceeded Rudolph’s tragic Emmy bit with Fred Armisen. Then there was last year’s Best Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress film winners Allison Janney and Sam Rockwell doing a well-paced and naughty bit that I was genuinely amused by.
Of course, there were also the random ones. Taylor Swift, perhaps the biggest star in the U.S. currently, appeared with little fan fare and was paired with Idris Elba of all people. And, sorry to their fans, but Taron Egarton and Amber Heard just are not big enough or good enough (yet) to have earned their spot on the stage.
The Lifetime Achievement Awards. I thought the Cecil B. DeMille Award for Lifetime Achievement in Film was quite a snooze this year, especially when you compare it to the last two years when recipients Oprah Winfrey and Meryl Streep gave unforgettable speeches. Jeff Bridges’ speech started strong but then descended into nonsense rambling that was reminiscent of Matthew McConaughey’s acceptance speech tour from a few years ago. Also, while he is a tremendously gifted actor with an impressive filmography, I found the clip package they put together to be oddly uninspiring.
In sharp contrast was the first ever Carol Burnett Award for Lifetime Achievement in Television, naturally handed to Burnett herself. After an absolutely perfect intro by Steve Carell (not sure what the connection is between him and her, but he did a terrific job regardless) and a loving and funny clip package, Burnett gave one of the sharpest and most heartfelt speeches of the night and looked stunning at 85 years young. I am so glad they have finally added this category and it couldn’t have a more deserving inaugural winner.
The Runtime. With 25 competitive awards and 2 Lifetime Achievement Awards, the Globes have to get aggressive about shortening people’s acceptance speeches to come in at 3 hours. Even without the filler of musical performances and clip packages of the year’s films, it ran 3 hours and 20 minutes. For me, it never got boring, but nevertheless the run time was a bit grueling.
*** FULL LIST OF WINNERS ***
THE MOTION PICTURE CATEGORIES
Best Motion Picture — Drama: Bohemian Rhapsody
Best Actress in a Motion Picture — Drama: Glenn Close, The Wife
Best Actor in a Motion Picture — Drama: Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody
Best Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy: Green Book
Best Actress in a Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy: Olivia Colman, The Favourite
Best Actor in a Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy: Christian Bale, Vice
Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture: Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk
Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture: Mahershala Ali, Green Book
Best Director — Motion Picture: Alfonso Cuaron, Roma
Best Screenplay — Motion Picture: Green Book
Best Original Score —Motion Picture: First Man
Best Original Song — Motion Picture: “Shallow,” A Star is Born
Best Motion Picture — Animated: Spider-man: Into the Spiderverse
Best Motion Picture — Foreign Language: Roma
THE TELEVISION CATEGORIES
Best Television Series — Drama: The Americans (Fx)
Best Actress in a Television Series — Drama: Sandra Oh, Killing Eve (BBC America)
Best Actor in a Television Series — Drama: Richard Madden, Bodyguard (Netflix)
Best Television Series — Musical or Comedy: The Kominsky Method (Netflix)
Best Actress in a Television Series — Musical or Comedy: Rachel Brosnahan, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon)
Best Actor in a Television Series — Musical or Comedy: Michael Douglas, The Kominsky Method (Netflix)
Best Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television: Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story (Fx)
Best Actress in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television: Patricia Arquette, Escape at Dannemora (Showtime)
Best Actor in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television: Darren Criss, Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story (Fx)
Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series, or Motion Picture Made for Television: Patricia Clarkson, Sharp Objects (HBO)
Best Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series, or Motion Picture Made for Television: Ben Whishaw, A Very English Scandal (Amazon)
Check out my articles about the following Golden Globe nominated shows and films: