They may not have had lukewarm chardonnay on the tables, as nominee Jennifer Lawrence had predicted. But the 81st Golden Globes had a bit of everything else: Some silliness, some seriousness, a bit of history, a few good jokes and many bad ones, loads of stars — and one Taylor Swift, who didn’t ascend the podium but still made her presence known as perhaps only Swift can.
One decisive trend emerged: In the great “Barbenheimer” showdown of awards season 2024, round one went to the “heimer” part. Christopher Nolan’s sweeping biopic “Oppenheimer” dominated the evening, among its wins the prize for best drama, best director for Nolan, and best actor (Cillian Murphy) and supporting actor (Robert Downey Jr.). Greta Gerwig’s candy-colored “Barbie,” meanwhile, lost to upset victor “Poor Things” in the comedy/musical category, but won the new cinematic and box office achievement award, as well as best song for Billie Eilish’s wistful “What Was I Made For.”
It would be unwise to count “Barbie” out, but it was a disappointing night for her fans, and also for another fearsome force: Swifties. The pop superstar, who spent 2023 smashing all records in sight, lost out on her fifth Globe nomination. But she stunned on the carpet in shimmering Gucci green, and later created a meme-worthy moment when she reacted with a seemingly icy glare to a joke about her by host Jo Koy.
Swift was not alone in her displeasure; at one point the jokes were falling flat enough for Koy to stop and explain that he’d had only 10 days to prepare.
The crowd laughed harder at Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig, who made an amusing bit of pretending — insisting — that the ceremony was “a serious night.” The joke was that few actually take the ceremony seriously. Noted presenter Mark Hamill: “It's the only awards show with an open bar.”
But it was indeed a serious note that served as an emotional highpoint: Lily Gladstone, of “Killers of the Flower Moon,” became the first Indigenous winner of best actress in a drama, speaking in the Blackfeet language and reminding the crowd that there are still significant advances to be celebrated.
Some notable moments of the evening:
A bumpy start
Koy got a few laughs with a joke about the lengthy “Oppenheimer,” saying, “I needed another hour." But as the monologue went on, it was clear that the comic needed something else: sharper jokes from the writers. Cameras caught negative reactions from celebs like Harrison Ford and Selena Gomez, and the “Barbie” team did not appear amused when he noted that “Oppenheimer” was based on serious material but their own film was based on "a plastic doll with big boobies.”
Koy sought to defend himself. “Yo, I got the gig 10 days ago. You want a perfect monologue?" He added: “I wrote some of these, and they’re the ones you’re laughing at.”
They're not called that ...
When Da’Vine Joy Randolph won for her acclaimed supporting actress performance in “The Holdovers,” she duly thanked the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Only problem: The HFPA is now defunct, and many in the audience responded audibly: “They’re not called that.” After several years of turmoil that followed the revelation that the HFPA had no Black members, the Golden Globes were acquired last year by Eldridge Industries and Dick Clark Productions and turned into a for-profit venture. Some 300 entertainment journalists now vote for the awards. Later, Randolph spoke about the vibe of the evening. “It’s a party in there," she said. “It’s a good time. We got through the pandemic. We stuck through our two strikes. There’s a sense of buzz in there.”
... And he wasn't called that
Winning an early award for best supporting actor, Downey Jr. told the crowd he had taken a beta-blocker, so “this is going to be a breeze.” He then misspoke the name of his character, government official Lewis Strauss. “Dozens of folks have come up to me since the summertime saying that I was, I quote, ‘unrecognizably subtle as Leonard Strauss,’” the actor said. “To my fellow nominees, let’s not pretend this is a compliment.”
Succession succeeds succesfully
To nobody’s surprise, “Succession,” the HBO drama about the Roy family dynasty, had lots of success, winning best drama as well as major acting awards for Kieran Culkin, Matthew Macfadyen and Sarah Snook. Macfadyen said he’d enjoyed every second of playing the “weird and wonderful human grease stain” that was Tom Wambsgans. Culkin, who played troubled son Roman Roy, told the crowd how he’d been nominated for a Golden Globe 20 years ago and never thought he'd be back, and playfully taunted his co-nominee, Pedro Pascal of “The Last of Us," quipping: “Suck it, Pedro. Mine!” And Snook, who played Shiv Roy, ascended the stage and said: “Oh, wow. I was kind of hoping I didn’t have to get up. Kieran's usually better at these speeches, right? Don’t you want to get up instead?"
Don't be mean
Also on the TV side, Hulu’s kitchen-based “The Bear” won big – taking best comedy series. Jeremy Allen White won for the second time, and Ayo Edebiri won her first Globe for her own lead performance, charming the ballroom crowd when she thanked the assistants of her agents and managers. “To the people who answer my emails, you’re the real ones,” she said, She added: “If I forgot to thank you, I’m sorry. Unless you were mean or something. Okay, bye!”
If looks could kill
When “Barbie” won the new award for cinematic and box office achievement, it beat out the nominee many thought would win: “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour." Still, Swift, whose attendance was in question until her boyfriend, Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs, was ruled inactive for the day's game against the Los Angeles Chargers, was a glamorous addition to the evening (Bruce Springsteen was there, too) in her custom Gucci gown. The camera cut to her several times, but she was not happy when Koy joked that the difference between the Globes and the NFL was that the NFL had more reaction shots of Swift. She stared ahead and took a sip of her drink.
The importance of words
It wasn’t far from anyone’s minds that Hollywood is emerging from historic actors and writers strikes, and one of the more clever presenter bits highlighted the importance of screenwriters. Daniel Kaluuya, Shameik Moore and Hailee Steinfeld joked that they’d asked for their segment to be written not by writers but by studio executives. “What is up, Shameik,” Kaluuya said, robotically. “Not much, Daniel. How are you, Hailee?” Moore said. “I am relatable," Steinfeld said. The screenplay award they presented had a surprise winner: Justine Triet, writer-director of “Anatomy of a Fall,” beating out both “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer.”
A historic win
The evening’s emotional highpoint came with the penultimate award, when Gladstone won best actress in a drama for Martin Scorsese's epic “Killers of the Flower Moon,” becoming the first Indigenous winner in the category. She opened her speech in the Blackfeet language, explaining backstage that "it was one of the more natural things I could do in the moment.” In her speech, Gladstone, who played Osage community member Mollie Burkhart, pronounced her win historic and said: “This is for every little rez kid, every little urban kid, every little Native kid out there who has a dream, who is seeing themselves represented and our stories told — by ourselves, in our own words — with tremendous allies and tremendous trust from and with each other.”
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