Kicking off with host Jerrod Carmichael revealing that he was paid $500,000 to “be the Black face of an embattled organization,” and ending with The Fabelmans, The Banshees of Inisherin, House of the Dragon, Abbott Elementary, and The White Lotus taking home the top prizes of the evening, the 80th (and perhaps last?) Golden Globe Awards offered plenty of memorable moments and even more instances of questionable decision-making (and F-bombs, so many F-bombs).
Before the Hollywood Foreign Press Association inevitably implodes once again, The Globe and Mail presents the highs, lows, and weirdest head-scratchers of a (very long) awards ceremony that probably shouldn’t exist.
Host with the most: It took “un-fireable” host Jerrod Carmichael approximately seven seconds before roasting his employers, the perpetually mockable HFPA. While Carmichael didn’t go full Ricky Gervais with the opportunity — this was brutal honesty delivered with a straight face, not Gervais’ ain’t-I-a-stinker grin — he did bring the glitzy room back down to Earth with a strong, tremendously awkward thud that was delightful to view from afar. Calling out the HFPA for its past lack of diversity (“I won’t say the Hollywood Foreign Press Association was a racist organization ... but they didn’t have a single Black member until George Floyd died, so do with that information what you will”) while also revealing that he doesn’t much believe the organization has changed (“I think they got six Black members now, so congrats to those guys”), Carmichael delivered an uncomfortable dose of reality that made the entire evening worthwhile. And then he topped it off with a Tom Cruise/Scientology joke that was as fearless as it was successful in totally killing the self-congratulatory vibe in the room.
Every speech everywhere at once: If we accept the truth that the Globes don’t really need to exist, then we can also accept that it is responsible for delivering slivers of heartwarming moments that will at least brighten our social-media timelines for a day or two. Let’s call it a draw? The first and best example of this came right at the start of the evening, when Ke Huy Quan won the award for Best Supporting Actor for his turn in the multiverse comedy Everything Everywhere All at Once. It was a teary, career-resurrection acceptance speech long in the making — or since Quan co-starred so many decades ago as Short Round in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (a movie whose director, Steven Spielberg, was in the Globes audience and got a heartfelt shout-out from Quan).
RRRight on: In what I can only hope is the first sign that RRR will dominate the 2023 Academy Awards, the Telugu-language epic’s intensely catchy tune Naatu Naatu took home the Golden Globe for Best Original Song to an excitable wave of surprise. While the house orchestra dared to play off composer M.M. Keervani as he delivered his acceptance speech, the fact that director S.S. Rajamouli’s film even got a nod in the first place means that Hollywood is finally coming around to the absolute madcap power of Tollywood.
Shut up, and sit down: Whether it was the idea that the Globes might not be around next year (or at least not broadcast on NBC, which only gave the HFPA a one-year contract after witnessing its 2021 meltdown) or the fact that Carmichael gave everyone tacit permission to embrace brutal truths, the night’s big winners embraced a who-cares-level of honesty. The highlight: Michelle Yeoh’s acceptance speech, after the Everywhere Everything All at Once star won for Best Actress (Comedy or Musical). “I remember when I came to Hollywood — it was a dream come true until I got here,” she said, before rightly admonishing the orchestra to “shut up ... I can beat you up.”
Nip, tuck, glee: After being awarded the Carol Burnett Award for lifetime achievement, prolific television producer Ryan Murphy took the opportunity to deliver a gracious speech offering hope to any queer youths out there watching. “When I was a young person at home in the ‘70s watching The Carol Burnett Show, I never ever saw a person like me getting an award or even being a character on a TV show. It’s hard being an LGBTQ kid in America. In fact, all over the world, then and now. And I have one word for you: Florida.”
The Fabel Man: “I always say that if I prepare something it’s going to jinx it so I never prepare anything,” said a visibly nervous Steven Spielberg while accepting the award for Best Director for his autobiographical drama The Fabelmans. Despite seemingly mispronouncing the Yiddish word “kvelling,” (I always thought it was a soft-k, but oy vey, I’m willing to be wrong), the world’s most-loved director (that’s official) had the room in the palm of his hand. And the orchestra didn’t even play him off!
Jennifer’s body of work: After decades of struggling in the margins, Jennifer Coolidge is embracing her big moment in the spotlight, and made sure that everyone else in the Beverly Hilton knew it, too. Her acceptance speech after winning the award for Best Supporting Role (Limited Series, Anthology Series or TV Movie) was a thing of beautifully rambling beauty, especially when she singled out White Lotus mastermind Mike White.
Bleep bleep bleep bleep yeah: Whoever was manning NBC’s live-feed delay must have been asleep at the switch as the F- and S-bombs were a-flyin’ over the course of the evening. From Carmichael admonishing his audience to The Bear star Jeremy Allen White and The White Lotus’ cut-up Jennifer Coolidge letting their premium-cable channels’ loose policies on profanity get the best of them, it was an evening to swear by. And I haven’t even gotten to Eddie Murphy’s rather lazy F-bomb-laden Will Smith joke. Eddie, c’mon! Put some effort into it.
The host with the most-ish: Then again, perhaps some of Jerrod Carmichael’s late-show gags could have used a few careful polishes, including a flat, easy joke about Will Smith (something about being honoured with a Rock Hudson Award for masculinity?) and a particularly distasteful and unnecessary one about Whitney Houston’s death. What would Ricky Gervais do? Wait, don’t answer that.
Guided by voices: The most “huh?” moment of the evening: Apparently Elvis star and Best Actor (Comedy or Musical) winner Austin Butler just kinda talks like Elvis all the time. Apparently this isn’t new — Butler was employing the same drawl during his movie junket obligations this past summer. But still, you have to wonder if the guy might at least try adopting a different intonation if he ever wants to avoid getting typecast as a sexpot rock star for the rest of his life. Or, scratch that, he’s probably doing just fine.
All quiet on the Hollywood front: Whoever had “teary Sean Penn introduces Volodymyr Zelenskyy” on their Golden Globes bingo card, well, congratulations you prescient weirdo. I’m still not sure what to make of the Ukrainian leader appearing via satellite to give the house a pep talk, but at least he wasn’t played off by that dang orchestra.
Crowded house: For all the consternation that the big stars wouldn’t show up to a gala that just one year ago was a disgraced, non-televised affair, just about every big name in this season’s awards race was sitting in the Beverly Hilton Tuesday night, happy to be recognized by an organization that most wouldn’t even acknowledge as existing on their social-media channels when the nominations were announced last month. Time (and free publicity) heals all wounds.