In the first 10 minutes of the ceremony, Daniel Kaluuya won best supporting actor in a motion picture for “Judas and the Black Messiah” and launched into an enthusiastic acceptance speech — only to have the truly relatable experience of being muted, so no one could hear a thing he said.
“As you can see, we unfortunately have a bad connection,” presenter Laura Dern said, laughing nervously. “We apologize for that technical problem and send all of our congratulations to Daniel on his Golden Globe win.” Five seconds later, the issue was fixed and Kaluuya appeared back on the screen, asking “Am I on? Is this on? Is this on?”
The audio issues persisted throughout the three-hour telecast, as the sound occasionally went in and out and stars talked over each other during brief segments leading into commercials, when all the nominees were forced to make uncomfortable small talk from their remote locations. (“I don’t have my glasses on, so I can’t actually tell who I’m speaking to,” Michelle Pfeiffer admitted to her fellow nominees for best actress in a motion picture, comedy or musical.) Blurry Zoom screens, along with strange lighting and oddly close-up shots, led many on social media to wonder whether the Globes producers just remembered they had to throw together a remote show this weekend.
But in truth, the Globes were already under increased scrutiny, in the form of a recent Los Angeles Times investigation into the makeup and operations of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the 87-member organization that determines the awards — which the Times revealed had no Black members. After an uproar, the HFPA sent out three board members for a brief segment in which they assured the audience they’re figuring out how to fix their issues: “We recognize we have our own work to do. . . . We must have Black journalists in our organization,” said Helen Hoehne, the group’s vice president.
Celebrities weighed in, as well. “It’s great to be Black at the Golden Globes — BACK at the Golden Globes,” presenter Sterling K. Brown said dryly. When “Schitt’s Creek” continued its award show sweep, earning best TV series, comedy or musical, star and co-creator Dan Levy spoke about how a major message on the show was inclusion. “In the spirit of inclusion, I hope by this time next year, this ceremony reflects the true breadth and diversity of television being made today,” he said. “Because there is so much more to be celebrated.”
While the organization faced well-deserved criticism, the awards reflected a notable amount of diversity, including Kaluuya, John Boyega for best actor in a limited series for Amazon Prime’s anthology series “Small Axe,” and Andra Day as best actress in a motion picture, drama, for “The United States v. Billie Holiday.”
And “Nomadland’s” Chloé Zhao became the first Asian woman to win best director, motion picture, and the second woman in Globes history to triumph in the category. (The other was Barbra Streisand for “Yentl” in 1983.)
Chadwick Boseman, who died in August at age 43 after a four-year battle with colon cancer, was awarded best actor in a drama for his role in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” leading to the show’s most emotional moment with a tearful acceptance speech by his wife, Simone Ledward Boseman.
The movie categories, considered a major predictor of the upcoming Academy Awards, were overall fairly spread out. “Nomadland,” starring Frances McDormand as a widow who lives out of her van as she travels the American West looking for work, also won the best motion picture, drama.
Pixar’s heart-wrenching “Soul” won for animated film and original score. “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” the drama centered on anti-Vietnam War activists charged with inciting a riot at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, earned Aaron Sorkin a best screenplay trophy. “Minari,” about a Korean American family that moves from California to rural Arkansas, triumphed in the best foreign film category, leading to one of the best moments of the night when Lee Isaac Chung’s young daughter leaped into the director’s arms when the film won.
On the TV side, Netflix’s “The Crown” earned three trophies: Emma Corrin and Josh O’Connor took home prizes for their portrayals of Princess Diana and Prince Charles, while Gillian Anderson earned best supporting actress for playing Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Netflix continued to dominate, as “The Queen’s Gambit” was named best limited series or TV movie, while lead Anya Taylor-Joy landed best actress in the same category.
Co-hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler hosted the ceremony for the fourth time (they previously hosted 2013 through 2015) and were on separate coasts, with Fey at the Rainbow Room in New York and Poehler at the Beverly Hilton, which is where the Globes usually takes place. They repeatedly joked about the strangeness of the experience — and gently roasted Jason Sudeikis, who accepted his actor in a TV comedy or musical trophy for Apple TV Plus’s “Ted Lasso” in a sweatshirt. (Audience members can buy that hoodie at NBC.com/globesfashion, Fey and Poehler joked.)
They also noted the aforementioned serious issues within the Globes that were raised in the Times piece. “Look, a lot of flashy garbage got nominated, but that happens,” Poehler said, noting that was not unusual for the Globes. “But a number of Black actors and Black-led projects were overlooked.”
After adding that award shows are a scam (“invented by Big Red Carpet,” Poehler added), they urged the HFPA to prioritize inclusivity. Fey wondered if the HFPA didn’t previously get the memo on diversity “because your workplace is the back booth of a French McDonald’s.”
The HFPA has been the subject of controversies and scandals for decades, and it’s a longtime Hollywood joke (though based in reality) that studios who pay for elaborate press junkets and grant HFPA members access to A-list stars stand a better chance to win trophies. This, along with the minuscule voting body, usually leads to absolutely bizarre and often-mocked nominations and winners, with a serious lack of diversity.
Even at the show, this is essentially accepted as fact: In 2016, host Ricky Gervais told the crowd in his opening monologue that there was no way actors would ever skip the chance to win a Golden Globe, “particularly if their film company has already paid for it.”
The Times piece was spurred by a lawsuit filed by Norwegian journalist Kjersti Flaa, who was denied membership in the HFPA, and alleged that “the tax-exempt organization operated as a kind of cartel, barring qualified applicants — including herself — and monopolizing all-important press access while improperly subsidizing its members’ income,” the Times wrote, adding that the group paid $2 million to its members in the past fiscal year.
The suit was dismissed in November and the HFPA denied wrongdoing, but the Times interviewed current and former members who hoped the suit would result in changes to the organization, which one member described as “archaic.”
This year, the strangest Globes nominees included a best TV comedy/musical nod for “Emily in Paris,” the much-derided Netflix series that granted HFPA members a stay at a fancy French hotel to visit the set, according to the Times. (It lost to “Schitt’s Creek.”)
The other biggest head-scratcher was a best film comedy/musical nomination for “Music,” the directorial debut for singer-songwriter Sia, even though it has been panned and heavily criticized for its portrayal of an autistic character. (It lost to “Borat Subsequent Movie Film.”)