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Golden Globes: 10 things to know, from Chadwick Boseman’s posthumous award to the Rudy Giuliani jokes

Renée Zellweger announces at Sunday night's Golden Globes ceremony that Chadwick Boseman posthumously won best actor in a motion picture, drama for “Ma Rainey's Black Bottom.” (Christopher Polk/AFP/Getty Images)

For as much controversy as the Golden Globes stirred in the lead-up to Sunday night’s ceremony, the actual list of winners wasn’t too out of the ordinary. Netflix dominated in the television categories with “The Crown,” while Chloé Zhao and Sacha Baron Cohen won big on the film side with best drama “Nomadland” and best comedy “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” respectively.

The Globes weren’t as boozy and rambunctious as they usually are, due to the award recipients and nominees Zooming in, but chaos reigned as production issues made the show as awkward as a work meeting. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler did their best to keep things interesting — while hosting from opposite coasts! — looping in pals from “Saturday Night Live” for in-person frivolity and less-successful bits featuring first responders.

Here are 10 things you might’ve missed from the telecast.

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler returned to co-host the Golden Globes for the fourth time. (Video: The Washington Post)

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler’s monologue took aim at the Hollywood Foreign Press Association

Fey (live from New York!) and Poehler (in Los Angeles) kicked off the night with their best attempt to keep things punchy, including bits poking fun at the socially distanced gathering and the usual roast of the night’s nominees.

They acknowledged some upsides of avoiding an in-person ceremony, such as the bizarre drunken antics of the typical festivities, like “Quentin Tarantino crawling under the tables just touching people’s feet,” Poehler quipped.

However, the duo saved their harshest barbs for the HFPA. “Let’s see who those European weirdos nominated this year,” Fey said, as the comedic pair addressed — and sometimes danced around — the many controversies that have recently surrounded the voting body of the Globes.

“The Hollywood Foreign Press Association is made up of around 90 international — no Black — journalists who attend movie junkets each year in search of a better life,” Fey said. “It’s rumored that the German member is just a sausage that someone drew a little face on.”

The HFPA pledged to increase diversity in its ranks, but offered no specifics

The voting body behind the Golden Globes came under fire after announcing this year’s nominations, which overlooked acclaimed works by Black creators including Spike Lee’s “Da 5 Bloods” and Michaela Coel’s widely acclaimed HBO drama “I May Destroy You.” The scrutiny only intensified after a recent Los Angeles Times report revealed there are no Black journalists in the nearly 90-member organization.

Pre-show chatter indicated the HFPA would address those concerns — echoed in recent days by filmmaker Ava DuVernay, actor Sterling K. Brown and the advocacy organization Time’s Up — but the official presentation Sunday night was quick, awkward and rather lackluster.

“We recognize we have our own work to do. Just like in film and television, Black representation is vital. We must have Black journalists in our organization,” said HFPA Vice President Helen Hoehne, one of the members to take the stage.

Meher Tatna, chairman of the HFPA’s board, added that the group would “ensure everyone from all underrepresented communities gets a seat at our table.”

“That means creating an environment where a diverse membership is the norm, not the exception,” said HFPA President Ali Sar. “Thank you and we look forward to a more inclusive future.”

At the Golden Globes, faulty connections and some mixed messages about diversity

The ceremony was almost overshadowed by its poor production

Expectations were high after the remote Emmy Awards went smoothly in September, but the Globes didn’t meet the mark. Things were glitchy from the start; Daniel Kaluuya, who won the first award of the night, almost didn’t get the chance to deliver his acceptance speech for best supporting actor in the film “Judas and the Black Messiah” because his audio feed hadn’t been unmuted. (He eventually did give the speech, but only after exclaiming, “You did me dirty!”)

The poor audio quality was distracting, but perhaps second to the emphasis on the digital nature of everything going on. Before commercial breaks, the show cut to the Zoom screens of nominees for the upcoming category — it worked sometimes, as with a charming chat among best actor in a drama series nominees Bob Odenkirk, Al Pacino and Matthew Rhys, but was considerably more awkward in other instances. At the very least, it got us a fun clip of Don Cheadle telling long-winded best comedy actor in a series winner Jason Sudeikis to wrap it up.

Chadwick Boseman, who posthumously won best actor for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” was remembered in touching tributes

The evening included several tributes to Boseman, who died at 43 in August following a battle with colon cancer. In a pre-show interview with E!, Christopher Meloni remembered his “42” co-star as “a great actor” and a “really special human being.”

Boseman also came up in a sketch featuring children who knew very little about the Golden Globes, but were very well-versed on the “Black Panther” star.

But the evening’s most emotional tribute came after Boseman posthumously received a Golden Globe for his performance in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” His wife, Simone Ledward Boseman, cried as she delivered an acceptance speech on her late husband’s behalf.

“He would thank God, he would thank his parents, he would thank his ancestors for their guidance and their sacrifices,” she said, also thanking members of the actor’s team, as well as the cast and crew on the Netflix film.

“He would say something beautiful, something inspiring, something that would amplify that little voice inside of all of us that tells you you can, that tells you to keep going, that calls you back to what you are meant to be doing at this moment in history.”

“I don’t have his words, but we have to take all the moments to celebrate those we love so thank you HFPA for this opportunity to do exactly that,” Ledward Boseman said before directing a sweet message to her late husband. “And honey, you keep ’em coming.”

Norman Lear and Jane Fonda received honorary awards

The montages introducing Lear’s and Fonda’s honorary awards both referenced how they made an impact addressing issues of race and racial discrimination on-screen and off — notable for anyone at an award show preceded by race-based controversy, but especially for Hollywood veterans who have wielded influence in the industry for decades.

Lear, a legendary writer and producer, was given the Carol Burnett Award for his accomplishments in television. Clips leading up to his speech showcased his beloved 1970s sitcoms, such as “All in the Family” and “The Jeffersons,” noting that Lear’s work could be seen as ahead of its time.

Lear said his real-life family got him through it all: “At close to 99, I can tell you, I’ve never lived alone,” he said. “I have never laughed alone, and that has as much to do with my being here today as anything else I know.”

Fonda, who received the Cecil B. DeMille Award for her accomplishments as an actress and activist, used her platform to urge Hollywood to make good on its promises to diversify its stories and storytellers.

In her speech, Fonda highlighted a number of nominated films that she said deepened “my empathy for what being Black has meant.” She notably also named “I May Destroy You,” the HBO series widely pointed to as an egregious snub the day the Globe nominations were announced.

“There’s been a story we’ve been afraid to see and hear about ourselves in this industry — a story about which voices we respect and elevate and which we tune out, a story about who’s offered a seat at the table and who is kept out of the rooms where decisions are made,” Fonda said. “So let’s all of us, including all the groups that decide who gets hired and what gets made and who wins awards, let’s all of us make an effort to expand that tent so that everyone rises and everyone’s story has a chance to be seen and heard.”

Chloé Zhao made history

With her win for the film “Nomadland,” Zhao became the first Chinese woman to win best director at the Globes, and only the second woman overall. (Ang Lee, a Taiwanese director, was the first person of Asian descent to win in 2001 for “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” — and again in 2006 with “Brokeback Mountain” — and Barbra Streisand won in 1984 for “Yentl.”)

“Nomadland” also took home the biggest prize of the night: best film drama. The movie, starring Frances McDormand (who lost best actress to Andra Day), is based on the 2017 book of the same name by Jessica Bruder, and chronicles the tales of modern nomads who roam the American West and live out of makeshift vehicles — whether by choice or economic hardship.

The film was already an early favorite for the upcoming Academy Awards and Sunday’s wins only strengthen its case.

The complete list of 2021 Golden Globe winners

Rudy Giuliani got several, er, shout-outs

When “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” won best motion picture, comedy or musical, at Sunday’s ceremony, Cohen wasted no time thanking the “talented newcomer” who appeared in his film’s most shocking scene. But he wasn’t talking about breakout Maria Bakalova, a best actress nominee for her role as Borat’s daughter.

“I’m talking, of course, about Rudy Giuliani,” Cohen said. “I mean, who can get more laughs out of one unzipping? Incredible.”

“Our movie was just the beginning for him,” Cohen continued as he skewered the former New York City mayor, who stood by former president Donald Trump as he baselessly claimed election fraud following his loss to President Biden. “Rudy went on to star in a string of comedy films. Hits like ‘Four Seasons Landscaping,’ ‘Hair Dye Another Day’ and the courtroom drama ‘A Very Public Fart.’ ”

Cohen wasn’t the only winner to bring up Giuliani — or his appearance in the “Borat” sequel — in a show that largely steered clear of politics.

“In my film, I had to swim up from a sinking car,” Rosamund Pike noted while accepting the best actress award in the category that included Bakalova. “I think I would have rather had to do that than be in a room alone with Rudy Giuliani.”

Golden Globes recap: ‘Nomadland’ and ‘Borat’ win best picture awards; Jane Fonda steals the show

Even in a pandemic, the comedy bits persevered

Yes, the show distantly played off award winners whose speeches went on too long, but there still appeared to be time for sketches.

The first of the night featured current and past SNL greats Kenan Thompson and Maya Rudolph as French duo François Jean-Rudy and Beverly Jackfruit, accepting an award for “least original song in a telefilm, dramedy or comma.” (Thompson’s affinity for playing French characters dates to his time on “All That” as Pierre Escargot, with more recent appearances on SNL as the country’s top “Def Jam” comedian, Jean K. Jean.) The pair was honored to have many entrants in the category, including a lyrical version of the theme song for “The Crown”: “That version is used exclusively in Netflix Germany,” Rudolph said.

While not technically a sketch, the SNL players parade continued with a promotional tie-in for “Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar,” masked as an award presentation. The comedy was recently released to streaming platforms from Kristen “Target Lady” Wiig and Annie Mumolo, the duo behind “Bridesmaids.”

The show paid tribute — in multiple ways — to first responders

The Globes were largely audience-less, but they made a special exception for a small group of first responders, who sat at socially distanced tables and wore masks.

“Normally, this room is full of celebrities. But tonight, our audience on both coasts is made up of smoking-hot first responders and essential workers,” Fey said. “We are so grateful for the work that you do, and that you’re here so that the celebrities can stay safely at home.”

A few medical workers received extra screen time during a prerecorded comedy bit in which celebrities FaceTimed them for medical advice. One diagnosed Lin-Manuel Miranda with “Schitt’s Creek,” after the “Hamilton” creator said he had an ailment that has been “going around Canada for a while, but people have only caught it here in the last year or so.”

Andrew Rannells tried to sneak his way into early vaccine access by explaining he was playing a 1,000-year-old doctor in a new film. (“What kind of Ryan Murphy nonsense is this?” the nurse asked.) And Don Cheadle was informed that side effects of “Minari” may include “watery eyes, increased compassion and a tiny bit of weight gain.”)

Some people (men) dressed a bit too casually

Look, no one required the nominees to put in a ton of effort when it came to their fashion for the night — but of course, lots of stars showed up in their designer gowns, jewelry and suits anyway. And some … did not. Namely, Sudeikis and Joaquin Phoenix, who both wore sweatshirts. And yes, the garb promoted their favorite causes! But also, they were just hoodies.

“If anybody wants to know where they can get Jason Sudeikis’s hoodie, go to,” Fey joked, as Poehler called it one of “the messy things we love about the Globes.”

Jeff Daniels also added to the low-key fashion by showing up in a plaid button-down. Hey, weren’t we all dressing nicer at the beginning of the pandemic?


In an earlier version of this article, Rosamund Pike was incorrectly referred to as the winner of the Golden Globe for best supporting actress in a motion picture. She won best actress in a motion picture, comedy or musical. The story has been updated.