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The 2021 Golden Globes Were a Mess

By Dustin Rowles | Film | March 1, 2021 |

By Dustin Rowles | Film | March 1, 2021 |


I have a fairly high tolerance for awards shows, but last night’s Golden Globes ceremony tested even my patience. It was an excruciating 3 hours marred by technical glitches, awards for films that few people have seen, and an overall feeling of malaise, as though the stakes this year weren’t as high.

In a lot of ways, that is a shame. Chloe Zhao became the first Asian woman to win best director for Nomadland, which also won Best Motion Picture drama, and it’s not that she and the movie weren’t deserving. It’s that most people in America only got the opportunity to watch it for the first time two weeks ago. On Hulu. And let’s be honest: Not very many people tuned in to watch Frances McDormand shit in a bucket in a van down by the river. Minari, which won for Best Foreign Movie (even though it should have qualified for Best Drama), likewise, only became available to most people this weekend on VVOD at a cost of $20. I hope a lot of people rent it because of its win. It is fantastic, and Lee Isaac Chung (and his daughter!) gave one of the better speeches of the night (and it gave me a feeling of kinship with a fellow Arkansan, and Lee Isaac Chung may be our state’s best representative since Levon Helm!)

It was a bizarre year for movies, and co-hosts Tina and Amy’s best jokes (maybe the only good jokes?) were about how no one watched films this year because they seemed like too much of a commitment because we didn’t want to devote 2 hours to something, so we watched TV series instead, which allowed us to make a 5-hour commitment, one hour at a time. Also, that we mostly watched old Columbo reruns (not true, but it was the first year I’ve rewatched a series in at least a decade (Ted Lasso!).

Speaking of Ted Lasso, Jason Sudeikis — who won for Best Actor, Comedy for Lasso — represented one of the best highs and best lows of the night. Sudeikis, who wore a hoodie on Zoom, was clearly unprepared to speak, and probably had no expectation of winning. It took him a good 45 seconds to finally spit out some coherent words (his co-nominee, Don Cheadle, could be seen giving him the wrap-it-up signal with his finger), but when he finally did speak, Sudeikis gave a fairly charming speech.

(Side Note: Jason Sudeikis is on Twitter, but he does not Tweet. However, as we learned when Kaleena’s Ted Lasso post went viral, Sudeikis uses his Twitter account to favorite all the nice tweets, which may be the most Ted Lasso thing ever.)

Most of us were mentally giving everyone else the wrap-up signals during their speeches. The winners did not have to walk up on the stage, so they apparently used that extra time to ramble. I love Rosamund Pike, and I thought she was a worthy winner for I Care a Lot, but that speech never seemed to end. Catherine O’Hara — another worthy winner — tried to introduce a bit where her husband used music on her phone to play her off, but music from an iPhone transferred to millions of people via Zoom sounds like garbled static, so everyone thought her husband was just being an ass. There were also a few instances where one winner would give a speech via zoom and then hold up an iPad so that their co-winner could give their speech. It was Zoomception! Daniel Kaluuya won the first award of the night, and he was on mute while he gave his speech. It was awkward, and Laura Dern — who was presenting from the stage — was horrified, and then Kaluuya had to give his speech again.

Tina and Amy — from different coasts — were fine, although I couldn’t help but think that they were all wrong for this. I’m not sure anyone was right, but the experimental nature of the show would have been better suited to more experimental hosts (Aubrey Plaza and Sam Richardson, for instance, come to mind!). There was also the fact that there are no Black HFPA members, and that not only hung over the show but was mentioned by the co-hosts and others throughout the night. It felt more than ever like the HFPA weren’t “peers,” which made the awards easier to dismiss, which in itself was a shame, because there were a lot of very deserving winners who are Black, like Kaluuya, John Boyega, Andra Day, and Chadwick Boseman.

Speaking of Boseman, his wife, Taylor Simone Ledward, gave the speech of the night. It felt like Boseman got to say thank you to a lot of people through his wife. There wasn’t a dry eye in the damn house. When she mentioned Mr. Denzel Washington, I couldn’t help but picture Denzel was watching the speech from his recliner at home, quietly saying, “My man.”

Beyond the technical glitches, the bad jokes, and the boring Zoom speeches, the biggest problem I had with the whole night was this: Objectively speaking, the most important show of the year, I May Destroy You was not nominated, and Emily in Paris and Lily Collins were nominated, and we know why they were nominated, and their inclusion (as well as the inexplicable nomination for Music) casts doubt on the entire legitimacy of the HFPA, and that doubt, unfortunately, diminishes the value of the actual winners. Chloe Zhao, Jodie Foster, Sacha Baron Cohen, and all of those actors from The Crown may not have been my choice, but they were deserving winners, but we don’t know if the HFPA voted for them because they thought they deserved to win, or because their studios spent a lot of money to influence the voters. Granted, this is not a new issue — this has always been a problem with the Golden Globes — but it feels extra gross this year. And if it were up to me, I’d stop rewarding the Golden Globes with essentially the second-most prized movie awards telecast behind the Oscars and maybe demote it in favor of, say, the Critics Choice Awards or another less sketchy organization with a better track record. We’ve endured a lot of change this past year. Let’s make one of those changes a positive one.