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The Golden Globes were political, plodding, and not much fun

The Golden Globes, uh, happened last night. The ceremony was one of the most awkward in recent memory, from Ricky Gervais’ acrid opening monologue to Renee Zellweger’s strangely catatonic acceptance speech for Judy. You mostly got the sense that nobody much wanted to be there, which made for a plodding, uneven telecast.

Gervais kicked things off on a disillusioned note with his opening monologue, calling out Hollywood on its performative wokeness. “The companies you work for, I mean, unbelievable — Apple, Amazon, Disney — if Isis started a streaming service, you’d call your agent,” he quipped. He also told celebrities to keep their political opinions to themselves. “You're in no position to lecture the public about anything. You know nothing about the real world,” he snarked. “So, if you win, come up, accept your little award, thank your agent and your God and fuck off. OK?” Tom Hanks was caught on camera grimacing during Gervais’ jokes, like a stand-in for all of us.

There were bright moments, to be sure. Awkwafina made history as the first performer of Asian descent to win an award for lead actress. Phoebe Waller-Bridge took home two statues for Fleabag and managed to work an Obama innuendo into her acceptance speech. Parasite won best foreign language film, and through a translator, Bong Joon Ho encouraged Hollywood to “overcome the 1-inch-tall barrier of subtitles.” (It was the second year in a row, and just the second time in history, that a winner has spoken Korean onstage at the awards.)

The television awards seemed to align with critical and public opinion, mostly. Ramy Youssef took home the first statue of the night, for his Hulu comedy series Ramy, about an Egyptian-American man from New Jersey navigating the delta between millennial and Muslim values. Olivia Colman won for season three of The Crown and gave another delightfully rambling acceptance speech. Fittingly, Fleabag and Succession took home the top TV honors.

In one of the most powerful speeches of the night, Michelle Williams credited her win for best actress for Fosse/Verdon to “a woman’s right to choose.” The actress never mentioned the word “abortion,” instead emphasising the importance of freedom of choice. She closed her speech with a plea for women to vote in their own self-interest. “It’s what men have been doing for years, which is why the world looks so much like them,” Williams said. “Let’s make it look more like us.”

Russell Crowe, who also took home an acting award for the limited series The Loudest Voice, wasn’t physically at the Globes. He was home in Australia contending with the bush fires ravaging the continent and wrote a powerful statement about climate change for Jennifer Aniston to read in his absence. Patricia Arquette, who won a Globe for her role in Hulu’s limited series The Act, also used her speech to send a political message, calling Trump’s threats to bomb 52 Iranian targets, including cultural sites, a war crime.

Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood was the biggest winner on the film side of things last night. The flick took top honors for best motion picture musical or comedy — a categorization that’s still puzzling, since Once Upon a Time… is about the Manson murders. Quentin Tarantino took home the award for best screenplay for the film — the night before Harvey Weinstein’s sexual assault trial is scheduled to begin. Brad Pitt also won for his supporting role in the film.

Joker, another divisive film from last year, took home a couple of statues: one for Hildur Guðnadóttir, who composed the score, and another for Joaquin Phoenix’s lead role as Arthur Fleck. The actor gave a typically chaotic acceptance speech, dropping f-bombs and spewing vitriol at pretty much everyone in the room but his fiancé, Rooney Mara.

Though the Globes nominated three Netflix films for best drama, it skirted streaming scandal by giving the prize to 1917, the World War I epic. Sam Mendes also took home the best directing award for 1917.

Laura Dern beat out Jennifer Lopez to win the Globe for best supporting actress. Though Dern has been widely lauded for her role as a divorce lawyer in Marriage Story, Lopez was the favorite in the category for her transformative performance in Hustlers. The upset doesn’t bode well for her Oscar hopes, unfortunately.

It’s hard to say how much the Globes will predict the outcome of this year’s Oscars race — nominations for the Academy Awards won’t be unveiled until later this month. But the Globes conspicuously omitted a lot of films from the last year that many critics and audiences considered awards-worthy. Movies like Little Women, Uncut Gems, and Waves were nearly completely absent from the Globes, proving there’s a serious disconnect between the entertainment that’s resonating with audiences and what Hollywood power players think ought to be lauded. More than a lazy host and some Hollywood soapboxing, that’s the real issue with awards like the Globes.