The Golden Globes were canceled last year due to their incredible lack of diversity the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (hello, no black members!) so host Jerrod Carmichael had to address the elephant in the room at the outset. And that he did, “I’ll tell you why I’m here: I’m here ‘cause I’m Black,” explaining that he was brought in to be the black face of a white institution, and the first black host in its history. He delivered the lengthy explanation in a somber, sort of funny fashion. Was it necessary? Absolutely! But the show producers couldn’t move on from that moment and what followed was a lackluster, joyless affair for the rest of the evening.
Much of the telecast was plodded along in the same type of subdued manner. It stood in stark contrast from past telecasts personified by the gleeful mockery of Ricky Gervais or the fun duo of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. As opposed to the snootiness of the Oscars, the Golden Globes has always had a reputation for being fun, casual, and frankly, boozy (which Milly Alcock, likely Jennifer Coolidge, and admittedly tipsy Mike White illustrated). The Golden Globes were loose and fun, resulting in an unpredictability that was sorely lacking from this iteration. The host gets to poke fun at the HFPA, but even more enjoyable, at the celebs themselves, as in this excellent roasting:
There was one moment where Jerrod Carmichael displayed an especially fearless wit, which seemed to make folks in the room very uncomfortable. He walked out with the three supposed globes that Tom Cruise returned because of their lack of black members (a highly applauded move), but Carmichael didn’t miss a beat and asked if we could exchange them for the whereabouts of Shelly Miscavige, Scientology head David Miscavige’s wife, who’s been MIA for 15 years (whether out of the public eye or… other reasons, we can only speculate). The joke was brave and cool, and I wish there had been more of the same.
It’s not that I didn’t like Carmichael’s off-hand demeanor, I just kept waiting for more jokes like this and opportunities for lampooning those in the room, usually a fun bonus of the show. Then again, the 35-year-old didn’t have the enviable task of having to bring the Globes back after such an embarrassing controversy last year. He did his best under the circumstances.
I was also left with the feeling of not knowing what the show represents anymore. The Academy Awards is supposed to be the more serious of the two, while the Golden Globes is the drunk joker. Is this how the show sees itself going forward? It needed to do penance for past misdeeds, but will it bring the fun back? As it seems, it looks like a show without a clear vision or understanding of what makes it stand out during awards season.
The case to stay
However, due to the incredible talents in the room, there was of course plenty to celebrate in the entertainment industry. Besides Jerrod Carmichael’s fearless Tom Cruise joke, there were also plenty of highs during the show which celebrated the joy of having the 80th outing in the first place. The initial highlight was Ke Huy Quan’s heartfelt speech, which would inspire anyone! Originally famous for his kid role in 1984’s Indian Jones and the Temple of Doom, he persevered despite a 20-year involuntary gap that had the 51-year-old questioning his own self-belief, lamenting that the Everything Everywhere All At Once actor might “never surpass what he achieved as a kid.”
But yet here he was not only turning in a fabulous performance in the film but being rightfully honored by his peers for it. He won Best Supporting Actor and it was awesome. The bonus bit was giving his moving speech in front of the also-feted director who gave him that break as a kid, Steven Spielberg (who also won that night for his own movie, The Fabelmans).
Complimenting the awesomeness was his Everything Everywhere All At Once co-star, Michelle Yeoh’s win, at age 60, was recognized for her greatness as the Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy Motion Picture. How much fun was her shushing the off-stage music (although I felt for the pianist, Chloe Flower)? Even better, her other co-star, Jamie Lee Curtis’s enthusiastic reaction. Everyone needs a supportive girlfriend like Curtis.
Jennifer Coolidge was a mood. From her first bit of presenting, describing the complications of asking her to do her bit, delivered with deadpan humor, she was glorious. She also won Best Actress for a Limited Series, for her work in The White Lotus, and her speech was fabulously all over the place (without being shooed off too!). You can read the full dialogue here (it’s worth the read). Please bring her back for every award show. Fun fact, Globe-winner Colin Farrell gallantly lent her his arm as she walked up to the stage.
Comedic legend Eddie Murphy received the Cecil B. DeMille Award for his lifetime career in entertainment. Although much of the speech was surprisingly subdued, he saved the best line for last, proving that the 61-year-old still has it!
Speaking of sexagenarians, it was quite the evening for talented performers 60 and above. While this might not be all that surprising when it came to the men, it was a clear indicator that women 60 and older are not only being given excellent parts (ahem, slowly), but are also being celebrated for it! More, more, more of this, please.
Another great comedian, Regina Hall demonstrated why she is just so great. She completely lost it when trying to explain why Kevin Costner couldn’t be there in person while sheltering in place in his luxurious Santa Barbara mansion due to flooding. Not to make light of the weather catastrophe, Hall’s breath of fresh air was the kind of unscripted content that the Golden Globes has always excelled at. It was truly funny and the whole evening really needed more of that.
The final highlight for me was Miguel Sapochnik accepting the Best Drama Television Series award for House of Dragon. He spearheaded the hugely successful show but left before S2 got underway due to drama over his wife being a producer on the series. It’s a huge shame since he’s consistently been the best part of the Game of Thrones universe (he’s also my favorite director). A fun bit during his speech included bringing both Rhaenyra Targaryens (Emma D’Arcy and a clearly inebriated Milly Alcock) to share the stage with him. I’m sad he won’t be part of the series next season, but I’m glad he received an accolade that gave him his due.
Awards: B+ for the diversity of award-winners and emotionally satisfying speeches. The plus is for the amount of older women who deservedly won—about time! B+ also for plenty of glamorous fashion.
Here’s the full winners list.
Overall show: D for the humorless, less entertaining format. The Golden Globes needs to figure out what its image will be going forward. This was supposed to be an audition for its future and it wasn’t the most convincing one, to be honest. But the talent who were celebrated and their moving and funny speeches gave us a blueprint of the kind of engaging content the Globes needs to tap more into. I do hope they’re back, but I also hope they improve their grade next time.
Like the famous song from Singin’ In the Rain says, “make ‘em laugh, make ‘em laugh, make ‘em laugh!”