If the Hollywood Foreign Press Association ever hoped Tuesday night’s Golden Globes could return to business as usual, they picked the wrong man to host.
But for the necessary opportunity for honest conversation, they picked the right guy.
A year after making the Globes a private event because NBC refused to televise it and the stars refused to appear, and six months after a reorganization that doubled the number of voters, led to a slight improvement in the number of black members (now more than zero) and converted them from a non-profit organization to a private, for-profit organization, the HFPA returned to a Beverly Hilton ballroom that only superficially resembled where they held the Globes.
And the host, comedian Jerrod Carmichael, pulled the rug out from under them with a bleak opening monologue in which he suggested he was only hired because he was black, dropping a sobering statement – “I’m not going to say they’re a racist organization, but they didn’t have a single black member until George Floyd is not dead” – and talked about refusing repeated requests to meet with HFPA President Helen Hoehne before the performance. As the crowd sat quietly at what was supposed to be Hollywood’s “party of the year” — that’s the trademark, you know — it made people question what made the Globes so desperate for a comeback.
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Ricky Gervais may have insulted the stars and mocked the HFPA when he hosted the show, but Carmichael silenced the stars and leveled the HFPA. In doing so, he set the tone for a show where no one could pretend it was business as usual.
It was from this position – beaten and bruised and looking for redemption – that 100 or so HFPA members, plus another 100 or so international journalists who have the right to vote but are not members, tried to show that the Globes are worth saving, and the people who win them they are worthy of honor.
They mostly did it by doing what they usually do: spreading the wealth, with 10 different movies sharing 14 movie awards and 10 television programs sharing 13 TV awards. The lackluster show had many clear winners (Cate Blanchett in “Tár,” Colin Farrell in “The Banshees of Inisherin,” Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan in “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” Evan Peters in “Dahmer,” Quinta Brunson in “Abbott Elementary”) and some mild surprises that weren’t really surprising.
After all, Brendan Fraser might be the Oscar favorite for “Kit” over Austin Butler for “Elvis,” but Fraser said as soon as he was nominated that he wouldn’t attend the Globes after accusing the former HFPA president of sexual misconduct . And maybe “Everything Everywhere All At Once” became a slight favorite over “The Banshees of Inisherin” in the category of Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, but “Banshees” was always a strong contender in a close race, so the victory was the furthest away from shock.
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Yes, “Argentina, 1985” was not expected to beat “All Quiet on the Western Front”, “RRR” and “Decision to Leave” in the international category, but it is hardly monumental when the biggest surprise comes in such a category.
If the voters were trying to send a message, you could say it came in the first 90 minutes of the show, when nearly every acting award went to a person of color — though that would be a disservice to deserving winners like Brunson and Tyler James Williams, Yeoh and Quan, Angela Bassett and Zendaya to suggest they were part of the HFPA scheme to make the winners as diverse as possible. However, by the halfway point of the show, they had topped all previous Globes by awarding six awards to actors of color, four black and two Asian.
The results of the Globes never really affect Oscar voters, whose voting for nominations begins on Thursday. But Globe speeches sometimes play the role of an out-of-town tryout for upcoming Oscar speeches — and if that’s the case, Steven Spielberg made a good case for “The Fabelmans,” Ke Huy Quan continued the momentum he already had with “Everything Everywhere,” and Angela Bassett may have gotten a little boost for her supporting role in “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.”
At the end of the evening, Helen Hoehne took the stage to say how grateful HPFA was “to have the support of the industry” and promised to continue to become more diverse. By that point, however, the crowd seemed to be chatting among themselves and barely paying attention to anything on stage, so it’s hard to get the impression that the message was really delivered.
Or maybe it was just those opening words from Jerrod Carmichael still hanging in the air, challenging the HFPA to find a way to move on.
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