Less an awards show and more a prolonged statement of cultural correction, Sunday’s Golden Globe Awards telecast nevertheless managed to keep things fairly entertaining in the midst of revolution.
NBC “Late Night” host Seth Meyers, comparing himself (as a white male awards-show host in 2018) to “the first dog they shot into space,” delivered a monologue focused on the tidal wave of harassment and sexual misconduct allegations in Hollywood — and the many male producers, directors and writers no longer working because of them.
“Good evening, ladies and remaining gentleman,” Meyers began. “It’s 2018 and marijuana is finally allowed and sexual harassment finally isn’t. This was the year of big little lies and get out — and also the television series ‘Big Little Lies’ and the movie ‘Get Out.’”
The butts of Meyers’s jokes included Harvey Weinstein (he’ll be back in 20 years, the host said, “when he becomes the first person ever booed during the In Memoriam”), Woody Allen, Kevin Spacey and President Trump, as well as a crafty plea to Oprah Winfrey and Tom Hanks to run on a 2020 presidential ticket.
These easy yuks were delivered to a celebrity-packed audience in full and complete agreement — a Beverly Hilton ballroom clad entirely in black to show support for the “Time’s Up” movement of actresses and others who have pledged to end discrimination and harassment in the workplace.
It was an impressive sight each time the camera swept across the room. It also did wonders for the taxing hours of red-carpet nonsense that precede today’s awards shows — at last, something vital to talk about, new reasons to show up at all (for celebs and for viewers), even if all the strident agreement began to sound a tad redundant by the show’s end.
“Big Little Lies,” appropriately, took home a number of awards, including best limited TV series and for lead actress Nicole Kidman. Supporting actress and actor Laura Dern and Alexander Skarsgard also won. It was a series about a group of women realizing they’re far more powerful as a group than they are as rivals.
In the film categories, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” won best picture (drama) — one of four awards Sunday night. “Lady Bird” took best picture (musical or comedy). Gary Oldman won best actor (drama) for playing Winston Churchill in “Darkest Hour”; Frances McDormand won best actress (drama) for “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.”
Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale,” another uncannily timed series about a dystopian former United States where women no longer have any rights, also cleaned up, winning best TV drama. Creator Bruce Miller may have had the best acceptance line of the night: “To all the people in this world doing everything they can to keep ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ from becoming real — keep doing that.” The show’s star, Elisabeth Moss, won best actress (TV drama) and quoted Margaret Atwood, the author of the novel “The Handmaid’s Tale,” in her acceptance speech: “We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white spaces at the edge of print.”
Well, no more.
Several acceptance speeches through the evening touched on Topic A:
Kidman: “My mama was an advocate for the women’s movement when I was growing up. . . . Thank you for what you fought for so hard.”
Rachel Brosnahan, who won best TV comedy actress for her lead role “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”: “Let’s hold each other accountable and invest in and champion [women’s] stories.”
Reese Witherspoon, speaking after “Big Little Lies” won best limited series: “I want to thank everyone who broke their silence this year. . . . Time is up, we see you, we hear you and we will tell your stories.”
McDormand: “Trust me, the women in this room tonight are not here for the food. We are here for the work. Thank you.”
The evening’s anticipated centerpiece, Oprah Winfrey’s acceptance speech for the Cecile B. DeMille Award, did not disappoint. She started by remembering what it meant for her, as a little girl, to see Sidney Poitier win an Academy Award in 1964 and segued to a comment about Recy Taylor, a black woman who was gang-raped by white men in 1944 and told people what happened rather than keep it quiet. Winfrey’s speech thundered into a rallying cry for equality and justice for women everywhere, “whose names we’ll never know,” and a salute to men who support them. “A new day is on the horizon,” she said. “A time where no one will have to say ‘Me Too’ ever again.”
The crowd went wild; it was up to film director Ron Howard and actress Natalie Portman to follow Winfrey’s speech, with a presentation of best film director. “And here are the all-male nominees,” Portman archly announced. (Guillermo del Toro won for “The Shape of Water.”)
The Globes have a reputation, deserved or not, for being the fun! awards show — the unrestricted schmooziness! The tipsiness! The mouthiness! — but the event’s 75-year history suggests a better word: fungible. That’s what makes them a good venue for takeover.
By standing for little and meaning less, its easy for a host or a cause to mold the Globes to the mood or message of the moment. Ricky Gervais held sadistic sway over the show on the four occasions he hosted; accepting last year’s DeMille award, Meryl Streep delivered a resistance rallying cry just days ahead of President Trump’s inauguration.
The Globes resiliently cling to that ancient (and confining) Beverly Hilton ballroom setting and an A-list-collides-with-B-list vibe. Along the way it has become a proving ground for celebrities to test-run their causes, movements and opinions — to be as Hollywood as they can be. They even brought out the ultimate weapon, Barbra Streisand, to deliver one final jab at the patriarchy.
After a show that resolute, one should probably expect a presidential tweet, with one’s morning coffee, declaring a my-button-is-bigger war on Hollywood.