It may not seem like it, but not only did movies come out last year, but GREAT ones did. And Sunday night, we officially started the long-winded, highly-exhausting journey to honor them (and also "Mank") with the considerably-tarnished Golden Globes.
"Nomadland" won the evening's top prizes – but who really won the night? And who really lost? And who really knows what Jason Sudeikis was going on about in his speech? Let's talk about it.
Loser: The Golden Globes
All awards shows seem pointless after 2020, a year with few movies, even less collective viewing habits and an infinity amount of more important things to concern ourselves with – so the Globes, the flimsiest of all these flimsy events, were already in a weird spot. That spot got a lot worse, though, when the LA Times reported that all the things we'd joked and assumed about the Golden Globes – that they were a small and bizarre cabal of easily-bribed celeb chasers lacking diversity – were totally accurate. Corruption and injust practices were no longer a hypothetical "lol" but an undeniable reality – one, judging by the overlooking of most Black-led projects, that was affecting the art being honored and held up as excellent.
Like a contestant on "Hell's Kitchen," the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and the Golden Globes were essentially cooking for their lives on Sunday night. They couldn't fix everything in a night, but they had to show some interest in doing so – and they had to show their worth, why these pointless awards (ones that have no relevance to the Academy) and the corrupt organization behind them was worth saving.
And in response, the HFPA served up burnt hair and overcooked dog food.
Even with our bar for live entertainment is low, understanding things are weird considering the pandemic, Sunday night's ceremony was a trash heap, a night full of gaffes forced and unforced that failed as a tribute to entertainment and failed as entertainment in its own right.
We expected awkward prom photo energy from celebs taking glamour shots in their stairways and front doors. We expected co-hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler to be a little stiff considering the circumstances both around the Globes and indeed inside, where the masked crowds of first responders were receptive but limited in number making the laughs sound like a tepid night at a comedy open mic. We even expected glitchy Zoom feeds – we're all used to them at this point.
What we didn't expect was the basic inability to un-mute people's mics so the night started with Daniel Kaluuya awkwardly silenced while trying to accept his award for Best Supporting Actor. (A Black man annoyedly unable to speak: not the best optics for an organization without a Black voice for almost two decades!) What we didn't expect was horrendously awkward Zoom group chats apparently arranged with no actual chatting in mind, just awkward celebs starring at screens, at the audience, at one another, mumbling "hi" at most. What we didn't expect was basic gaffes with the in-person show, cameramen in the frame, microphones poorly leveled popping, winners having to be brought in via separate iPad videos, speeches getting taken over by bad audio gags (poor Catherine O'Hara) and Tiffany Haddish announcing nominees in the underlit dark.
Sure, it's a pandemic – but the Emmys happened months ago, in less certain times, and pulled off an entertaining night with both more precision and personality. It owned the weird. We could handle – and even enjoy – ragged. Haphazard and uncaring, on the other hand? Less acceptable. The HFPA had a year to figure out how to do this show and instead assembled a junky night that felt planned out just a week ago.
In past years, the Globes' lack of technical prowess, prestige and care was tossed aside due to its good-natured drunk energy, lack of pretention and unpolished celeb polish. It was a good time, so why harsh the buzz? But now, witnessing it without the glitz and glamour, in the cold and harsh light of day, it's merely a bad sloppy production put on by a bad sloppy organization. And not that anything was going to be fixed last night, but their apology for their lack of diversity and standard was rote and insincere – as if they egotistically didn't realize the magnitude of the hole they've currently dug.
And make no mistake: It might be an insurmountable one. The world doesn't need the Globes – it means nothing, even by awards season standards – and the show put on last night did not make a strong case for itself. You're an awards show whose awards are meaningless and whose show was bad – so what is the point of you? Why wouldn't the industry start a new awards show or bolster an existing one right now, one with better credentials, better representation and a better time? Last night could actually have marked the final Golden Globes – and honestly, if it was, not a thing would be lost.
Winner: Any other awards shows on the schedule
But seriously, congratulations to the Oscars, the Grammys, the AARP Movies for Grownups Awards, whatever awards shows are left on the schedule – the bar has now been set on the floor of an underground nuclear bomb shelter. All you have to do is appear slightly more finessed and engaging than a typical Zoom work call while not being accused of bribery and racism, and you've outdone this year's Golden Globes.
Loser: Netflix (the film side)
With the pandemic shutting down theaters across the globe, streaming dominated in 2020. So if ever the Big Red Streaming Monolith was going to finally win its coveted Best Picture Oscar – the one thing missing from its resume for Hollywood studio legitimacy – this would seemingly be the year.
Just one problem: No one seems to like their nominees – or at least enough to give them awards.
"Mank" and "The Trial of the Chicago 7" came in as the two most nominated movies of the night and two of the frontrunners to win Best Picture - Drama, but both got essentially blanked – not only for the night's big prize, but across the board too, with the only win between the two coming for "Chicago 7" for Aaron Sorkin's screenplay. The streaming service won in a few other significant categories on Sunday night – the late great Chadwick Boseman for his electric turn in "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" and a surprise for Rosamund Pike and "I Care A Lot" in Best Actress - Musical or Comedy – but only the former is expected to replicate that, or even come close, on Oscars night. Meanwhile, all their big horses in the contest are now losing steam – plus not giving the service much of an idea of where to emphasize their awards season push.
In the end, this one-of-a-kind year might end all the same for Netflix at the Oscars: disappointment.
Winner: Netflix (the TV side)
While the film side of things is still a work-in-progress, at least Netflix still wears the crown on the small screen – thanks in no small part to "The Crown," which, unlike its cinematic brethren, made good on its plentiful nominations and won four of its six nods, including many of TV's biggest prizes like Best Drama, Best Actress and Best Actor. Then "The Queen's Gambit" called checkmate on its competition in the mini-series and TV movie categories, earning an overall win as well as for Best Actress in a Mini-Series or TV Film for 2020 breakout Anya Taylor-Joy. Netflix: not quite kings of the big screen but still certainly of the binge.
Loser: Nomination logic
Awards season, and the Golden Globes in particular, are no strangers to categorial nonsense. This is, after all, the same group that gave its Best Picture - Musical or Comedy award to the famous laugh riot that was "The Martian" and nominated "The Tourist" for anything (which isn't as much categorial nonsense as it is just plain nonsense).
As with everything with the HFPA this year, however, Sunday's nomination logic was beyond the usual ridiculousness. Why, for instance, was John Boyega up for Best Supporting Actor in a Mini-Series? He was certainly the lead of "Red, White and Blue," his chapter of Steve McQueen's "Small Axe." At least they rewarded his work – and plus, it's not like anybody's been sure of exactly how to handle the nebulously defined "Small Axe" anthology series. Even Amazon, the films' distributor, couldn't keep it straight.
The biggest snafu, however, came with Best Foreign Film winner "Minari." Again, don't get me wrong: I'm all for "Minari" winning awards. It's a lovely motion picture ... but one thing it most certainly is NOT is a foreign film. "Minari" was filmed in America, takes place in America and tells a story about American citizens and the American dream. It may be mostly in the Korean language, but it's an American film – it's even labeled as such by the Golden Globes!
It's unfair to the other nominees – or at least not to the spirit of its intention – that a category dedicated to the international film community got usurped by an American film. But most of all, it's unfair to "Minari" to incorrectly relegate it to a smaller category and make it ineligible for any other awards because apparently an American story can't be told in Korean. Weirdly enough, "Inglourious Basterds" – a film that is significantly in foreign languages – didn't have to deal with this and got nominated for Best Picture - Drama. You almost get the impression the organization behind these awards might have a race problem ...
If you had to pick a movie that reflected the Golden Globes' shiny, glitz-obsessed, celebrity-starved tastes, a movie featuring Frances McDomand going to the bathroom in a bucket and co-starring real poor people struggling to get by in the beautiful but thoroughly unflashy middle of America would not particularly come quickly to mind. But Chloe Zhao's quietly powerful drama was mighty enough to win over the HPFA and their usual flashy appetites, earning Best Director for Zhao as well as the night's biggest prize, Best Picture - Drama.
Now, this doesn't mean that it's a walk to win Best Picture at the Oscars – here comes the usual caveat that the HFPA shares no voters with Academy, (just ask "1917") and there's still a long time until the big awards late next month. But winning is winning, and "Nomadland" now has the buzz; frontrunner status can be hard on a movie – especially smaller films – but I think Zhao's film, like its nomadic characters, is potent enough to endure the trek.
Loser: David Fincher
Besides the existence of the Golden Globes, nobody lost more than "Mank" on Sunday night. David Fincher's writers room Hollywood throwback was the most nominated movie of the night, yet didn't win a single award. Nerts indeed – though maybe Fincher should be considered a winner because at least he found the best possible way to celebrate his increasing number of losses.
If he did a shot after every "Mank" loss, that's six in total – enough to make one's brain forget the night ever happened. I'm so jealous.
Normally I'm well over my head – and outside my budget – looking at the red carpet fashions, but the big trend of the socially distanced Golden Globes this year was right in my wheelhouse: comfort wear.
Sure, celebs like Anya Taylor-Joy, Elle Fanning and Laverne Cox didn't let the night go down un-shimmering – but looking casual was the new formal on Sunday night. Joaquin Phoenix breezed on and off stage in his usual sincerely uncomfortable fashion, but dressed in a far less usual black hoodie to go with his shirt and tie, while "Ted Lasso" winner and excellent mustache owner Jason Sudeikis stole the show with his bright colorful hoodie – a perfect match for his either buzzed or deliriously overtired energy. (Judging by his delightfully ramble-tastic speech, maybe both.)
I'm not sure if this is *officially true* but I'm pretty sure that Jason Sudeikis is the first person to accept a #GoldenGlobes in a hoodie https://t.co/gMrpbjjqwe pic.twitter.com/xUq890Muht — Variety (@Variety) March 1, 2021
Not to be outdone, Jeff Daniels showed up not in a hoodie but in just a standard everyday plaid Gap shirt, looking less like a celeb at an awards show and more like a dad doing a Skype call to the relatives from the home's computer room (or, considering all the doors, maybe the set of "Monsters Inc").
There's definitely a conversation to be had about the sexist expectations for men at these events compared to women. (Jodie Foster and her wife did rock jammies, but that's the kind of move only a career veteran with lots of trophies and no effs left to give can pull.) But considering the surreality of it all, the shoddiness of the show and the overall uselessness of the Globes this year, the slack vibes were pretty endearing – and exactly what this particular show deserved.
Loser: Anyone who wanted to learn anything about the nominees
For the life of me, I cannot grasp why TV and film awards shows don't show clips of their nominees.
Even in normal years, it's a bafflement. Awards season solely exists to help sell movies, the ceremonies only existing as essentially glamorous ads – so why not sell the product? Show people watching what they've maybe missed and why they should check the nominees out. And if ever there was a year to go heavy on clips, it would be this one. People have complained all through awards season that they don't know what the nominees are, thanks to the lack of traditional releases and the scattered buckshot approach of streaming services – plus, with no typical live audience or performer accessibility, what else could an awards show do for entertainment?
Besides some brief glorified edited trailers for the Best Picutre nominees, the answer to that question is apparently "stiff Zoom calls and bad comedy bits about how speeches are awkward" – the latter an odd choice considering, without clips or the usual glitzy booze-soaked banter, SPEECHES ARE ALL THE GOLDEN GLOBES HAD TO OFFER! Why not show some of the entertainment you're supposedly honoring!? Why not sell the damn product!? Why not inform the audience on what they should check out!? (I mean, I get why not in the case of "Music" – but why not everyone else.)
One of my favorite parts of awards season is watching these shows with people who aren't quite as movie-obsessed as myself, and seeing them watch a clip and witnessing in real time as the to-see list in their brain adds a new film. These movies are great arguments for themselves – certainly better than dryly written intros or acceptance speeches. There were great films that came out last year – many of them even nominated last night – but you'd never know that watching these Golden Globes.
Winner: Norman Lear and Jane Fonda
In an unprofessional night, assembled by an unprofessional organization, leave it to two industry professionals to class things up.
Norman Lear and Jane Fonda received the night's two honorary awards – usually a slow and stagnant moment in the rambunctuous proceedings, but considering the stiff show surrounding the segments, a rare highlight of last night's program. For one, it was one of the few moments of the Golden Globes that actually took the time to honor the individuals being honored, featuring lovely montages of their decades of work on and off screen. Watching bits of quality movies and TV shows is entertaining and enjoyable? WHO KNEW!? Somebody should tell the rest of the show ...
Then the two icons delivered wonderful speeches. Lear used his time to generously pay tribute to the namesake of the honorary trophy – Carol Burnett – along with to the friends, family and colleagues along the way who helped craft his comedic sensibility and his incredible career, plus a nod to the importance of laughter and the life-giving power of something often overlooked as slight. Later in the night, Jane Fonda used her time to celebrate the essential significance of storytelling and its empathy-giving power – giving a not-small part of her once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to nod to the many great stories told over the past year.
In the end, she did a better job of celebrating the diverse breadth of excellent movies and television from 2020 AND discussing the need and value for change and greater diversity than the HFPA. Why do we need them again?
Loser: Tracy Morgan
A predictable win became very unpredictable when Tracy Morgan busted out his best John Travolta impression and mentally typo-ed the Best Animated Film winner "Soul" into "Sal."
But actually, I bet Pixar could make a pretty great animated movie called "Sal" – maybe about a New York pizza slice with feelings, contemplating life and death?
Winner: Taylor Simone Ledward
Chadwick Boseman's posthumous run through awards season was guaranteed to be emotional, his numerous expected wins for "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" (and potential nominations for "Da 5 Bloods") serving as a powerful tribute to his remarkable year of work but also to his remarkable, cruelly cut-short career.
But even those who'd braced themselves for an tear-wringing moment weren't ready for Taylor Simone Ledward's speech, accepting the Best Actor in a Drama award for her late husband, tearfully thanking those closest to him, the film and his family. It was a beautiful tribute to Boseman, reserved yet profoundly emotional, speaking on his behalf while also acknowledging the impossibility of that task, balancing the line of mourning what we lost while also celebrating what he gave, the tragedy of his death and the inspiration of his life. If this is what awaits the rest of awards season – and it is; Boseman is a lock to win this Oscar – then Boseman is receiving a gorgeous farewell tour, all too soon but also all too deserved.
Loser: Al Pacino's attention span
Let's all enjoy Al Pacino, nominated for Amazon's "Hunters," giving Sunday night's Zoom-saster exactly the level of excitement and enthusiasm it deserves.
Winner: Diane Warren
It only took a once-in-a-lifetime global pandemic, but it looks like Diane Warren might finally win her Oscar.
No, I hadn't heard of "Io Si" before its Best Original Song win Sunday night either, but it's not like there's a "Shallow" in the bunch – just a shallow field of competitors. Without an obvious hit or any clear earworms in the running, narratives will have to guide the day – and few narratives are better than Warren, an 11-time bridesmaid but never a bride, finally getting a trophy.
As always, there's no overlap betweten the HFPA and the Academy, so a Golden Globe win doesn't actually mean anything – but winning is always a good look, and in an anonymous group of nominees, "Io Si" now stands out. And if we're not going to give this award to the obvious deserving winning, "Jaja Ding Dong," then why not do the next best thing and finally give Warern her award.
Loser: Glenn Close
On the complete opposite end of Diane Warren sits Glenn Close, who's also gone an incredible number of Oscar nominations without a win – seven, with an eighth likely coming later this month – but didn't get the Golden Globes boost she was looking for.
Best Supporting Actress is a fairly open category this year – Olivia Colman already won recently, Helena Zengel's too young and Amanda Seyfried is on a sinking ship of a nominee – so much like Warren, there's a feeling that, in a year without an obvious pick, why not simply reward an overdue candidate. But the Globes went in a different direction, picking Aaron Rodgers' BFF Jodie Foster in "The Mauritanian."
Does this mean I think Foster's going to win at the Oscars in April? Not at all – I'd be surprised if she even gets nominated. After all, Globes gonna Globes. But I do think it was a null night for Close when she could've used a push – especially since it's far from her best work in far from her best movie, "Hillbilly Elegy." Or, to put it in nonsensical Mamaw terms, it was a neutral terminator when she could've used a good terminator. But hey, she's still got better odds than co-star and fellow Oscar torture victim Amy Adams!
Normally, the Globes are all about drunken celebs casually hobnobbing the night away, but thanks to the horribly awkward Zoom setups (and probably the lack of alcohol), all the nominees soundly rejected the idea of conversing with one another – something the director probably wishes they knew before centering all the commercial break bumpers around nominee breakaway video groups in which no one had anything to say, instead just staring into the void or, if you're Al Pacino, catching a nap.
While the stars were oddly shy, their pets thankfully were not – from Regina King's red carpet-hogging dog to Jodie Foster having to wrangle Ziggy during Jane Fonda's speech and Olivia Colman being genuinely delighted by all the furry friends on her screen.
These unexpected drop-ins created the evening's few moments of fun, personality and cozy relatability that the Emmys tapped into last fall for their distanced ceremony. These puppies and kittens had great entertainment instincts – I say let them direct next year's awards show. Couldn't do worse than this year's edition.
As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.
When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.