The whole of Hollywood is enveloped by a cloud of suspicion and on fire with rebellion. Once powerful men and fixtures of these awards shows have been brought low by their own rampant immorality. The women (and men) who took them down, who finally said NO MORE and kicked down the doors of the halls of power and dragged Weinstein and Spacey out, kicking and screaming; they won’t go back to normalcy. The women at the Beverly Hilton, dressed in all black out of solidarity, were not at the Golden Globes to fritter their time away with champagne and idle chatter. They had something to say. And they said it loud.
Glitz and Glamor Goes Political
For E! and NBC, the Golden Globes ceremony is a harmless fantasy to peddle to Middle America. The beautiful people, all dressed in clothes more expensive than a car, mingling and telling jokes. The companies wanted nothing more than to have us stay in that absorbed state, to let the Globes stay harmless. As a result, the red carpet was a sloppy mess of usual trite banter, movie promotion, and discussions of endemic oppression. E! wanted so much to track up and down the bodies of the actresses, lingering on the curves and exposed skin, ignoring the women activists right next to them or the “Times Up” pin on their lapel.
The hosts tried to stay on brand with the men, discussing their films or the ceremony with them. The women bore the brunt of explaining themselves, explaining the meaning of the movement and its importance to everyone outside of Hollywood. To their credit, the actresses all maintained their solidarity with each other, even as the situation kept being re-centered around men.
Seth Myers was in a tough, tough spot this year. All eyes are on the men of Hollywood, and he was forced to walk the fine line between comedy and insensitivity, to keep punching up. And, to his credit, he did a good job. From an initial joke referencing the “remaining” men of Hollywood to a rather funny exchange with ex-Weekend Update co-host Amy Poehler on “mansplaining” humor, Seth kept his comedy running as fast as he could. He evaded nothing, taking shots at Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, and the still Teflon-coated Woody Allen. Unlike the past, when the camera would cut to awkward reactions or troubled chuckling, these jokes solicited cathartic laughs from the women and (some) men in the audience.
Already a little hyper at best, the speed of the show did mean that Seth sometimes felt on fast forward. Seth won’t beat Amy and Tina from three years ago, but he was a marked improvement over the past few years of Fallon and Gervais.
Despite Feminist Focus, A Male-Dominated Field
Outside of the gender-specific acting awards, the big film awards went to men. The blatant snubbing of Patty Jenkins and Greta Gerwig meant that Best Director could only go to man, even if we got the best outcome in Guillermo del Toro for The Shape of Water. While some of the big wins of the night for women came from stories driven by women (as the awards were apt to mention), the people writing and directing most of them were still men. Martin McDonagh won Best Screenplay for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, and he accepted the eventual Best Drama award for the film as well, a film which got Frances McDormand her first Globe for Best Actress in a Drama.
Only Lady Bird seemed to have an authentic female presence across the board, with Greta Gerwig accepting the award for Best Comedy/Musical after Saoirse Ronan got a Best Actress Comedy/Musical nod. In an environment that scrutinized gender disparity, the on-camera/off-camera balance issues were more obvious than ever.
Women Will Not Be Silenced
To the delight of many, the women giving out awards and receiving them were not shy about sharing their feelings. Natalie Portman may have had the line of the night with a joke about following Oprah’s impassioned speech (which we’ll get to) with a list of all male directors.
Acceptance speeches were in rare form. Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern, and Reese Witherspoon, whose TV series Big Little Lies got what Kori described as a tongue bath with four wins tonight, brought out the same speeches on supporting women that they used at the Emmy’s. Rachel Brosnahan got a good speech in on the importance of women’s stories when she won for best TV Actress Comedy/Musical. And then, of course, there was Oprah’s speech.
Reese Witherspoon introduced Oprah for the Cecil B. Demille Lifetime Achievement in Film Award, and she and the HFP did a good job putting Oprah in context of both cinema and American culture as a whole. But when Oprah got on stage to accept her award, after the requisite hug from Reese, she launched into one of the best speeches ever given at an awards show.
She spoke of herself at first, of seeing Sidney Poitier win an Oscar and inspire generations. Of the celebration of blackness that was wholly alien to her at the time. She thanked who she needed to thank. She praised the women protesting at the awards. But then she went further. With each word, Oprah’s voice grew stronger. The emotions behind her eyes moved from joy to sadness to righteous fury. In her hand, the Golden Globe was not a trophy but a scepter, a cudgel against Hollywood’s predators. She not only spoke truth to power, she demanded that her fellow women do the same and be allowed to do the same. The women of the awards shows, yes, but the women across the world, the domestic workers, soldiers, and waitresses. She gazed forward to a day when the fight that overwhelmed the Golden Globes will lead to a world where nobody will need to say #MeToo.
Her speech set the world on fire. The crowd was in tears; Twitter was exploding. The power of her words was such that you felt her projecting not just her anger at those who do wrong, but also her hope. Oprah stood on stage and clutched an award, an award previously held by men like Jack Warner, Woody Allen, and John Wayne— and gave a speech that not only captured the emotions of the night, but that may define the #MeToo movement for years to come. Watch it below:
- Three Billboards winning Best Drama was a bit of an upset, with most money on either Del Toro’s The Shape of Water or Nolan’s Dunkirk getting the trophy. Nolan came away with nothing tonight, with even the reliable Hans Zimmer not winning for Best Score.
- The Fandomentals went 5/11 this year, with our predictions whiffing on nearly all of the drama awards. However, we are not unhappy. Multiple awards went to our first choices, like McDormand and Oldman for acting and Del Toro for directing. So while we may be batting under .500, we still feel good. (I hope I got that right, I don’t watch baseball!)
- Sterling K. Brown gave an amazing speech that I fear will be buried, on the limitations of “color-blind” casting as an be all, end all to solving diversity problems. While the biggest issue tonight was one of gender, Brown and Oprah did a great job making sure the status of the less white were not forgotten.
- The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel creator Amy Sherman-Palladino ran off after accepting her award for Best Comedy/Musical TV Series to find cheese. Some say she is still searching to this day.