Home >Industry >Media >Golden Globes 2020: Surprise, surprise

No one takes the Golden Globes too seriously as an indicator of artistic heft. Handed out by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a small group of foreign correspondents based in Los Angeles, this is the boozy younger cousin to the Academy Awards. No one remembers if Birdman toppled Boyhood at the Golden Globes (it didn’t, they were in different categories – and The Grand Budapest Hotel won Best Comedy or Musical that year). All anyone’s hoping for is Hollywood stars loosened up by alcohol, saying things they never would at the Oscars.

In recent years, the Globes predict Oscar winners about half the time – though one has to allow for their pesky division of titles into Drama and Comedy or Musical. This year’s results suggest a broad vote against streaming services, in particular Netflix, which was looking to clean up with Marriage Story and The Irishman. Instead, Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Best Comedy or Musical, Screenplay, Supporting Actor for Brad Pitt) and, unexpectedly, Sam Mendes’ 1917 (Best Drama, Director) were the big winners. Renée Zellweger won Best Actor for Judy; Joaquin Phoenix, presumably in character after winning for Joker, gave an uncomfortable, nervy speech.

The television categories went according to form. Succession was deservedly named Best Drama (and Best Performance went to Brian Cox), while Phoebe Waller-Bridge picked up Best Comedy and Best Performance – Musical or Comedy for Fleabag. Here are some of the notable moments from the 77th edition:

Which one is ‘1917’ again?

Sam Mendes’ World War I film hasn’t released wide in the US yet, so viewers would have been forgiven if they didn’t know what he was getting a Best Director award for. That win was surprising enough, but the Best Film – Drama win that followed was a shock, beating out the highly touted Marriage Story and The Irishman, as well as Joker and Two Popes (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood won Best Film – Comedy or Musical). Mendes has Oscar pedigree and The Academy does love a gimmick (the film is shot, seemingly, in one take), but it’s still early to call 1917 a frontrunner.

Netflix didn’t have the night most were expecting

Between Marriage Story (which had the most nominations of any film this year) and The Irishman, it was expected that Netflix would sweep the major film categories. In the end, it was only Laura Dern who won Best Supporting Actor for Marriage Story, while The Irishman went home empty-handed. Mendes seemed to rub it in when he said that he hoped audiences would see 1917 on the big screen, “the way it was intended".

Thankfully, that’s the last Ricky Gervais Globes monologue we’ll endure

Ricky Gervais’ almost 8-minute monologue – his last, as he kept reminding viewers – was bitter and unfunny, a reminder that there’s nothing more cringe-worthy than a comedian who’s fallen behind the times. There were jokes that wouldn’t have worked at an open mic, like the one about Martin Scorsese’s height, and others with cultural reference points that betrayed Gervais’ age (even Meryl Streep wouldn’t have expected Sophie’s Choice to be a punchline). There were some scattered laughs during the speech but mostly looks of exasperation, none more piercing than Jonathan Pryce’s fixed stare when Gervais said, “This was a great year for pedophile movies… Surviving R Kelly, Finding Neverland, The Two Popes".

Sacha Baron Cohen landed the jab of the night

Introducing Taika Waititi’s Hitler comedy, Jojo Rabbit, Cohen said: “The hero of this next movie is a naive, misguided child who spreads Nazi propaganda and only has imaginary friends. His name is Mark Zuckerberg. Sorry, this is an old intro for The Social Network"

Always choose Michelle Williams

Michelle Williams won Best Performance in a Limited Series or Television Movie for her powerful performance in Fosse/Verdon. In her acceptance speech, the actor, who’s expecting a child, spoke movingly about a woman’s right to choose and how it allowed her to reach where she has in life. “I’ve tried my very best to live a life of my own making and not just a series of events that happened to me…and I wouldn’t have been able to do this without employing a woman's right to choose." She ended by saying, “Women are the largest voting body in the country. Let's make it look more like us" – a fitting riposte to Gervais’ advice to the audience at the start to not address politics on stage.

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