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A Golden Globes to Forget

The Golden Globes! The best televised Hollywood party of the year! TV actors and movie stars in the same room! Everybody drunk and messy while wearing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of couture and jewelry! What’s not to love about the More Fun Oscars?

This year, quite a lot. First of all, going into the Globes things were already a mess. Films by Black filmmakers were shut out of the race for Best Picture (Drama) and this issue spilled over into the TV nominations as well, particularly noticeable in the lack of any noms for the brilliant I May Destroy You. On the heels of these snubs came the news that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association has no Black members. The insidious thread of racism in Hollywood is always a problem, and should always be called out. But after the very public and far-reaching discussions around race that we saw in 2020, it seems more egregious than usual that the HFPA was so out of touch. Last night, they did what they could to address the elephant in the room, openly saying that their lack of diversity was wrong, but it felt like too little, too late.

In the opening monologue, for instance, Tina Fey announced the Best Picture noms by saying, “Let’s see what these European weirdos nominated this year!” That should be a funny line, pointing out how differently the non-American HFPA views the entertainment biz. Unfortunately, given the ongoing scandal of their white-centered nominations and membership, it wasn’t funny–because it was true.

In spite of all this, we did see many people of color win big awards! That was great. Sadly, the awards show itself was so glitchy that I doubt a lot of folks bothered to sit through it. You would assume that Hollywood, of all industries, would know how to put on a show. Yes, it’s virtual, but so what? This is a town that creates entire worlds out of nothing! Of course they can produce a fantastic awards show! Turns out, no. They produced a series of awkward Zoom meetings. Academy Awards producers, take note: DO NOT DO IT THIS WAY.

Anyhoo, there were some memorable moments, of course. If you bailed on the show last night, you may want to check out the clips.

Your Hosts!

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler should host everything, in my opinion. But they were off their game, maybe because it’s hard to generate the right chemistry when you’re on two different coasts (Fey in NYC, Pohler in LA). Their bit about how to tell movies and TV apart in a year when “movie theaters were closed and we watched everything on our phones” was pretty good, but when they took on the HFPA’s diversity issues by declaring that we all know awards shows are stupid…let’s just say it doesn’t inspire anyone to keep watching this awards show. But I did laugh heartily at their joke about Aaron Sorkin’s writing, “He can have 7 men talking but it feels like a hundred men talking.”

The Dreaded Mute Button

It was a sign of things to come when the first award of the night–Best Supporting Actor–was given to Daniel Kaluuya for Judas and the Black Messiah, and there was no sound on his video. He was giving his acceptance speech, not knowing we couldn’t hear him. Everyone who has spent this past year working and socializing virtually was at home yelling “You’re on mute!” and Laura Dern, the presenter, seemed to be doing that too. It was no good, he didn’t know, we couldn’t hear him, and the producers decided to just move on. But a few seconds later, Kaluuya was back, now with sound, saying “You’re doing me dirty!” I don’t think they meant to do him dirty. I think the show was just badly produced. But it’s unfortunate that such a big mistake came at the expense of a Black actor, immediately after a monologue about how the HFPA needs to value Black people more. Yikes.

Chadwick Boseman

The death of Chadwick Boseman was one of 2020’s saddest surprises. There were two beautiful reminders of his legacy on the Globes. One was the punchline to the only truly funny pre-recorded bit in the show, La’Ron from TikTok interviewing kids. The children gave hilariously wrong answers to every question, but all of them knew the answer to “Who is Chadwick Boseman?”

Simone Boseman

When Boseman won Best Actor for his role in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, his wife, Taylor Simone Ledward, accepted on his behalf. She cried through her whole speech–and so did I–but she gave heartfelt thanks to all the people and ideas that Chadwick would have wanted her to, and she spoke beautifully.

Jason’s Rainbow Hoodie

Jason Sudeikis won Best Actor (TV Comedy) for Ted Lasso. Well-deserved! But I don’t think he was prepared to win, because he seemed shocked. And also stoned. He was bleary-eyed and wearing a rumpled hoodie, and he rambled for a while about Leo Tolstoy. While he had a nice point in there about giving credit to other actors, he never quite found it. The whole speech was a treat, mostly for Ramy Youssef’s stifled laughter and Don Cheadle’s hilarious “wrap it up” signal.

Chloe Zhao

Chloe Zhao was the night’s big winner. She won Best Director and her Nomadland won Best Picture (Drama). She’s the first Asian woman–and only second woman overall–to win Best Director. The last time a woman won was Barbra Streisand back in 1984, and I’m going to kick off Women’s History Month by proposing that we don’t wait 37 years before a woman wins this award again.

Zhao was alone in what looked like her office, in regular clothes and drinking tea, watching the Golden Globes like she was on a Zoom call, and I love her for it!

All in all, it was a rough start to this year’s awards season, and I will go out on a limb and say it’s because we’re celebrating movies from 2020, and that year was cursed! On to the Oscars, and let’s hope they learn a few lessons of what NOT to do in a virtual ceremony.

Written By

Laura J. Burns writes books, writes for TV, and sometimes writes TV based on books and books based on TV. She's the managing editor of The Gist.

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