It was a Golden Globes like no other, for better (the winners’ backdrops!) and worse (the technical glitches!). The challenges of putting on an awards ceremony in the midst of a pandemic were evident in ways large and small Sunday night, while a series of exposés about the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the group that hands out the awards, set the tone for the show. Here are the evening’s highs and lows as we saw them. — Stephanie Goodman
Biggest Challenge: How the Ceremony Grappled With Diversity
Going into the night, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association faced intense criticism over its membership’s lack of diversity and a nomination list that omitted some of the most decorated Black-led shows and movies of the season. And yet: many of the night’s trophies went to Black talent and stories, and an Asian woman made Golden Globes history.
Chadwick Boseman won best actor in a drama (for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”), Andra Day took home best actress in a drama (for “The United States vs. Billie Holiday”), Daniel Kaluuya was the supporting actor winner for film (“Judas and the Black Messiah”) and John Boyega picked up the same award for television (“Small Axe”). The hit Pixar movie “Soul,” about a Harlem jazzman, received two Globes (for best animated film and original score).
And Chloé Zhao won best director for her work on the drama “Nomadland,” making her the first Asian woman ever to win that prize. (The film was also honored as the best drama.)
Still, concerns about the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (which has no Black members) and who gets nominated pervaded the show right from the start, when the hosts, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, brought up the situation several times. “Look, a lot of flashy garbage got nominated, but that happens, OK?” Poehler said, adding, “But a number of Black actors and Black-led projects were overlooked.”
After several investigative articles were published earlier in the week, the association vowed to diversify its ranks. But its leaders knew they had to say something on the telecast, and they did early in the night. “We recognize we have our own work to do,” Helen Hoehne, the group’s vice president, said onstage. “Just like in film and television, Black representation is vital. We must have Black journalists in our organization.”
That didn’t stop several winners from calling on the association to do better. Jane Fonda, accepting the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement, urged groups that decide “who gets hired and what gets made and who wins awards” to make room “so that everyone rises and everyone’s story has a chance to be seen and heard.”
And Daniel Levy, accepting best television comedy for “Schitt’s Creek,” was even more pointed: “I hope that this time next year, this ceremony reflects the true breadth and diversity of the film and television being made today, because there is so much more to be celebrated.” — Matt Stevens
Weirdest Production Value: Long-Distance Hosts Onstage ‘Together’
Tina Fey and Amy Poehler were good hosts, but we figured they would be — they’ve done the job before. But about that split screen. Yes, we know the Golden Globes had to get creative to present hosts on opposite coasts (and nominees on Zoom and beyond), but what was with the “Parent Trap”-era split-screen antics? Why even try to make it look as if Fey, who was in the Rainbow Room in New York, and Poehler, who was in the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, were together when we all know they weren’t? Sure, they had a gag about it — Fey’s arm “reached” from one screen to another to stroke Poehler’s hair — but the stage design and attempt to match things up were more distracting than anything, with my eyes frequently drawn to that pesky line down the middle rather than paying attention to the hosts (and the jokes). — Mekado Murphy
Worst Production Value: Technical Glitches
Back in September, the Emmys demonstrated that the technical production of a pandemic awards show was doable. Weirdly, though, the Globes seemed, er, plagued by glitch after glitch: winners on mute, intro and outro segments that were off, tinny sound in general. Daniel Kaluuya, the best supporting actor winner for “Judas and the Black Messiah,” was almost left out of the show because of technical difficulties. Sure, the Golden Globes are ostensibly the awards where “anything can happen,” but that’s usually because it’s a ballroom full of drunk people. At least this ceremony served as additional confirmation that video conferencing is the pits. — Margaret Lyons
Best Production Value: Celebrity Zoom Backgrounds
I may not remember any of the monologue jokes from this year’s ceremony, but the celebrities’ Zoom backgrounds will stay with me for all time. Was Ryan Murphy calling from his own personal Panopticon? Was Colin Farrell hiding in the study from the board game Clue? Every time the camera cut back to Aaron Sorkin’s living room, I noticed an outlandish new detail: A guitar! No, two guitars! And is that Olivia Munn on the couch behind him? If you’re still curious about how the other half lives, at least these pandemic-era awards shows are good for something. — Kyle Buchanan
Most Moving Acceptance, Part 1: Boseman’s Widow
The raw and emotional acceptance speech from Boseman’s widow, Taylor Simone Ledward, was by far the most honest moment of the night. Speaking through tears, she evoked his spirit (“He would say something beautiful; he would say something inspiring”) and thanked those he would have wanted to recognize.
And in a year when so many people have lost so much, she reaffirmed what really matters: “taking the moments to celebrate those we love.”
These award shows are trifles of manufactured nonsense but that moment rang true. Had it been in person, there wouldn’t have been a dry eye in the house. — Nicole Sperling
Most Moving Acceptance, Part 2: Jodie Foster
In a moment that brought tears of joy to this gay reporter’s eyes, Jodie Foster accepted the Globe for best supporting actress in a film, for “The Mauritanian,” while seated next to her wife, Alexandra Hedison. A gobsmacked Foster even capped her acceptance speech by smooching Hedison.
It was a powerful reminder that Hollywood — for all of its many (many) inclusion problems — is becoming a more equitable place for LGBTQ people. For decades, Foster and her team rightly feared that her coming out as a lesbian would hurt her career. (And whose business was it anyway?) As recently as 2013, when she appeared on the Globes telecast to accept a lifetime achievement award, she was only haltingly able to acknowledge her sexual identity, never actually saying the words. And yet there she was Sunday celebrating openly with her wife. In pajamas! — Brooks Barnes
Most Awkward Acceptance: The Filmmakers of ‘Soul’
On a racially changed night, the best animated film winner, Pixar’s “Soul,” about a Black jazz musician in search of his inspiration, provided one of the more awkward moments. Pete Docter, who directed the film, and Dana Murray, the film’s primary producer, who are both white, gave live acceptance speeches from a woodsy-looking home in the Bay Area. The film’s co-director, Kemp Powers, who is Black, seemed to receive short shrift, subsequently offering thanks in a pretaped video that played on Docter’s iPad. Blame the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Kemp, who resides in Southern California, was only told Sunday that he was a nominee. Co-directors have been excluded in the past. (Twitter calmed down when “Soul” won best score, and Jon Batiste, who is Black, opened the acceptance speeches, with his fellow winners Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross following.) — Brooks Barnes
Biggest Mixed Message: A Family Honored and Snubbed
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association asked Satchel and Jackson Lewis Lee to serve as Golden Globes ambassadors. They’re the offspring of Spike Lee and his wife, Tonya Lewis Lee, and they are the first Black siblings selected for the role, a largely ceremonial job traditionally reserved for the offspring of Hollywood’s elite.
Coincidentally or not, they were chosen the same year that Spike Lee was snubbed, for his Vietnam veteran drama “Da 5 Bloods,” alongside other prominent Black creators and actors like Michaela Coel. The siblings say they are used to their father not always being recognized for his work.
“When he was making movies that nobody was responding to or they weren’t as big as they have been, it didn’t really faze him,” Satchel Lee said, adding that he would just move on to his next project. — Sandra E. Garcia
Most Surprising Fashion Accessory: The Home Red Carpet
Forget the Zoom shirt; welcome to the Zoom evening gown. Also the Zoom tux.
If this year’s Golden Globes red carpet wasn’t exactly the red carpet we were used to, nor was it the dressed-down stars-in-their-jammies-pretending-to-be-just-like-us reveal of fundraisers during the pandemic past. Instead, the first of the big award shows of 2021 gave us the hitherto before unimagined … home red carpet.
Turns out you can only keep the Hollywood-fashion industrial complex down for so long. But this time, the sight of stars in their finery in social isolation seemed less a mercenary marketing play (though there’s obviously still some of that) than a refusal to wallow and an understanding of the value of vicarious escapism.
As Laverne Cox said during the preshow segment as she posed in what she called “a standing Zoom” — the better to show off her frock — “we should have a moment.” And if not now, when? So she, and the rest of the nominees and presenters, proceeded to provide one. — Vanessa Friedman