Awards show season has commenced with Sunday’s 76th annual Golden Globe Awards, a time of year full of unfulfilled hopes that somehow or someday the awards givers will meet audience’s expectations.
Unfortunately, this year was not an exception to any rule. Top awards were given to some of this year’s most controversial films like the white-savior narrative “Green Book” and the revisionist Queen biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Though there were some bright spots during the show, the broadcast as a whole was marked by upsets that weren’t at all fun or exciting.
The Golden Globes’ television category was relatively dominated by the Chuck Lorre Netflix vehicle “The Kominsky Method.” The show picked up Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy, beating out the endlessly innovative and poorly recognized “The Good Place,” as well as last year’s comedy darling “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” Michael Douglas also picked up Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy for the show and noted the Hollywood Foreign Press Association in his speech, “For 45 years, you always surprise me.” The double win for this show was truly a shock, considering the series flew under the radar amidst awards season buzz.
Rachel Brosnahan won Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy for the second year for her portrayal of the titular character in the saccharine “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” Though Brosnahan is dynamic in her portrayal of the rising female comic, her win came at the expense of more innovative dramas and performances. Brosnahan’s win felt blasé in a category full of textbook nominations (two of the five nominees, Candice Bergen and Debra Messing, were both up for their roles in mildly-received rebooted shows). A glaring absence from the category was D’Arcy Carden, a standout from “The Good Place” whose portrayal of intelligent Janet (or sometimes Janets) is a true marvel.
The drama portion of television awards was somewhat less tumultuous, with awards going to familiar faces Patricia Clarkson and Ben Whishaw for Supporting Roles in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television, for “Sharp Objects” and “A Very English Scandal,” respectively.
Patricia Arquette took home Best Actress in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television for “Escape at Dannemorra,” and Darren Criss took home Best Actor in the category for “The Assassination of Gianni Versace.” Criss is the first Filipino-American actor to win a Golden Globe and dedicated his award to his mom: “As the son of a firecracker Filipino woman from Cebu that dreamed of coming to this country … I love you dearly and I dedicate this to you.”
The Ryan Murphy-helmed “The Assassination of Gianni Versace” also took home Best Television Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television, while “The Americans” took Best Television Series – Drama for its sixth and final season. This was due recognition for the Cold War-era piece, which has been a consistent standout thanks to expert writing and layered performances from its leads, Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell.
Richard Madden took home Best Performance by an Actor In A Television Series – Drama for his role in “Bodyguard.” Madden beat out the incredible Billy Porter, whose role as Pray Tell was a centrifugal force on one of this year’s standout shows “Pose” which went home unduly awardless.
One of the most exciting moments of the night came from Sandra Oh’s win for Best Performance by an Actress In A Television Series – Drama for her role as Eve Polastri in “Killing Eve.” Oh’s performance as Eve Polastri is imbued with intense precision, making for a searing, poignant and darkly comedic performance in the cat-and-mouse psychological thriller. Oh took the stage from the wings teary eyed and gave an impassioned rapidfire speech, ending with a thank you to her parents who were watching from the audience.
The evening was lightly punctuated by the guiding voice of its hosts, Andy Samberg and Oh, who both avoided any heavy handedness throughout. The tone of the opening monologue and subsequent bits was topical but light — helped in part by the writing of comedic talents such as Bowen Yang and Gabe Liedman. Yang and Liedman also made appearances in some of the show’s bits, at one point going into the audience to administer flu shots to the Hollywood elite. The show’s presenters were fine, with appearances by Lucy Liu, Idris Elba and Taylor Swift (a reminder of the two’s impending roles in the “Cats” reboot) and a scene-stealing turn from Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph.
The show was bisected by two lifetime achievement awards: the new Carol Burnett Award, appropriately granted in its inaugural year to Burnett herself, and the Cecil B. DeMille lifetime achievement award, which went to Jeff Bridges. Burnett gave a moving tribute to television and the people who made “The Carol Burnett Show” happen. Bridges’ speech was also entertaining — a roundabout, dude-ly meditation on his career and those who have helped him along the way.
The excellent “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse” took home Best Animated Feature, a win that was a breath of relief in well-earned recognition of the innovative and tender film. This new take on the Spider-Man franchise was the evident winner in a category that included two lesser sequels (“Incredibles 2” and “Ralph Breaks the Internet”), Wes Anderson’s problematic “Isle of Dogs,” and “Mirai.” Every element of the win was a delight, from cast members of “Black Panther” presenting, to the film’s original and endlessly catchy song “Sunflower” playing as members of the production came to the stage to accept the award.
In music categories, Justin Hurwitz of “La La Land” score fame and took home Best Original Score – Motion Picture for his work in “First Man,” and Best Original Song – Motion Picture went to “Shallow,” by Lady Gaga, Mark Ronson, Anthony Rossomando, and Andrew Wyatt.
In a widely-regarded upset, Glenn Close beat out Lady Gaga for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama for her performance in “The Wife,” leaving the “A Star is Born” actress without any acting or directing nods.
“Roma” took home two awards: Best Motion Picture – Foreign Language and Best Director – Motion Picture for Alfonso Cuarón. “Roma” has been consistently heralded as one of the best films of the year, but missing from its accolades was an award for lead actress Yalitza Aparicio, who Cuáron thanked first in his speech. It would be remiss for the remainder of awards season to not include this powerhouse actress.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy went to Olivia Colman for her portrayal as Queen Anne in “The Favourite.” Her performance was biting and calculated alongside those of co-stars Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone, whom Colman referred to lovingly as “my bitches” in her acceptance speech. Best actor in the Musical or Comedy category went to Christian Bale for his role as Dick Cheney in “Vice,” to which Bale thanked Satan for inspiration. And Regina King won Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in any Motion Picture for “If Beale Street Could Talk.” King was one of the few actors up for both film and television awards, and her award was well-deserved for her portrayal of Sharon Rivers.
The whitewashed, widely criticized “Green Book” took home three awards: Best Screenplay – Motion Picture for Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie and Peter Farrelly, Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in any Motion Picture for Mahershala Ali and the overall title of Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy.
“Bohemian Rhapsody” was the other big winner, taking home Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama for Rami Malek’s performance as Freddie Mercury and Best Motion Picture – Drama, closing out the night on a confusing note. Though Malek’s performance was commendable in its acute replication of Mercury’s persona, the film as a whole erased Mercury’s sexuality and ultimately, a key part of the legend himself.
The Golden Globes’ focus on these two films is disappointing. Coming off of a year of entertainment industry change, including movements such as #TimesUp and #OscarsSoWhite, the Globes should walk the walk of institutional change and stop rewarding problematic films. Though Oh commented in the opening monologue that this was a year of change and diversity, that was simply not reflected by the winners of these two coveted awards.
This year’s ceremony, like so many before it, was one of disappointment, with a only a few deserved winners sprinkled in between. As the Screen Actors Guild Awards and Oscars are forthcoming, hopefully their juries will right some of the wrongs of this year’s Golden Globes.
Camryn Bell covers film and television. Contact her at [email protected].