For a ceremony that seemed primed to celebrate breaking the culture of silence that has enabled predators like Harvey Weinstein to get away with so much for so long, the 75th Golden Globe Awards were unusually silent. The red carpet started off hot, with Debra Messing calling out E! for paying their female co-hosts less than their male co-hosts while being interviewed by E!, but the actual awards show was mostly unremarkable, if not outright disappointing.
As host, Seth Meyers did about the best that he could, delivering a fairly tame opening monologue before essentially getting out of the way and letting the ceremony unfold. For the most part, presenters followed suit—with the exception of Geena Davis, who took a jab at the self-congratulatory attitude that awards shows can often take, sarcastically remarking, “I love that we fixed everything,” and Natalie Portman, who called out the fact that all of the motion picture best director nominees were male. All of the following reaction shots were nothing if not awkward, though Guillermo del Toro’s win for The Shape of Water (which also garnered an award for Alexandre Desplat's score) felt well deserved, as he defied being played off the stage and sung the praises of monsters, imperfection, and other-ness.
Unsurprisingly, though, it was Oprah who gave the most electrifying speech of the night. Accepting the Cecil B. DeMille Award, she spoke of the effect of seeing Sidney Poitier win the Oscar for Lilies of the Field, noting that she had “never seen a black man being celebrated like that.” She also spoke about the lives of Recy Taylor and Rosa Parks, making what was possibly the night’s only cogent call to the #MeToo movement: “[Taylor] lived, as we all have lived, in a culture broken by brutally powerful men. For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dared to speak their truth to the power of those men, but their time is up.”
But change doesn’t happen overnight, and the Globes are no exception to the rule. Gary Oldman, who reportedly assaulted his ex-wife and gave an unpleasant, racist, and anti-Semitic interview to Playboy, took home the prize for Best Actor in a Drama for Darkest Hour; in the hours since James Franco’s win for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy for The Disaster Artist, multiple accusations against him have begun cropping up on social media. Then there’s the fact that Kirk Douglas, who's in the past faced allegations of rape against actress Natalie Wood, was one of the presenters for Best Screenplay (won by Martin McDonagh for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) and received a standing ovation from the gathered crowd.
It all seems like a cosmic stroke of irony given that Big Little Lies—a series about women banding together against an abusive man—took home four awards, winning Best Miniseries or Television Film, with Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern, and Alexander Skarsgård winning in their respective acting categories. Of the four speeches, Dern’s was easily the best, as she called for the promotion of restorative justice as well as calling out the toxicity of a culture that would silence victims and prevent them from speaking up.
It was also strange to see that Lady Bird, which won Best Musical or Comedy and Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy (Saoirse Ronan), hadn’t garnered a Best Director nomination for Greta Gerwig, given the film’s other nominations. Even Barbra Streisand pointed out the metaphorical gap, noting that she's still the only woman to have won the Golden Globe for Best Director (for Yentl in 1984).
That sense of inequity persisted throughout the night, as most of the speeches made by men veered away from being remotely political—take Ewan McGregor’s acceptance speech for Fargo, for instance, or Sam Rockwell’s for Three Billboards—and The Greatest Showman, a facile offense in a progressive work’s clothing, took home the prize for Best Original Song. Even the acceptance speeches for Coco, which won for Best Animated Feature, and In the Fade, for Best Foreign Language Film, were fairly pedestrian.
Still, HFPA President Meher Tatna’s speech on the importance of journalism (and the announcement of two grants to fund and protect investigative journalists) was heartening, even more so as stories about women and diversity began to carry the day. The Handmaid’s Tale won for Best Actress in a TV Drama (Elizabeth Moss) as well as Best TV Drama, and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel won the equivalent awards for TV Musical or Comedy (with Rachel Brosnahan winning for her performance as Mrs. Maisel herself). Allison Janney, with I, Tonya’s sole win, noted the movie’s message about class, as well as shouting out the real Tonya Harding, who was in attendance at the ceremony.
There were a few firsts over the course of the night, too. Aziz Ansari made history as the first Asian actor to win the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a TV Musical or Comedy, and Sterling K. Brown became the first black man to win the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a TV Drama. Sterling’s speech, in which he spoke about the importance of his role as having been written for him, and thereby allowing him to be seen, was particularly resonant in a room—and among nominations—that were predominantly white.
It feels like a relevant point for a ceremony in which Three Billboards dominated, winning in four out of the six categories it was nominated in, with Frances McDormand’s acting win and the prize for Best Drama rounding out its recognitions. The film is great in some regards and weak in others, specifically in its handling of race, which is a sticking point that has been—but should not be— overlooked in the struggle towards intersectional feminism and intersectionality as a whole. Get Out, for instance, was shut out despite being one of the best films of last year, as was Call Me By Your Name.
Oprah aside, this year’s Golden Globes were underwhelming, with most people still afraid to address the elephant in the room, and hypocrisy extended to some of the honors bestowed and the Time’s Up pin worn by artists who have collaborated with Woody Allen and Roman Polanski. But the show wasn’t entirely disappointing. People are speaking out, and the world has become all more eager to listen.