The Golden Globes are the Rodney Dangerfield of awards shows — though Hollywood's beautiful people show up and walk the red carpet every year, the awards themselves don't tend to get much respect. At the ceremony Sunday night, the Globes seemed determined to beat everyone else to the joke, as host Ricky Gervais repeatedly jabbed at what he called the "worthless" awards and the crowd responded with knowing, if slightly uncomfortable, laughs.
Yet even amid the cynicism, the Globes also showed off moments of genuine affection for some of the year's most ambitious movies and some of the industry's biggest and most durable stars, as Alejandro G. Iñárritu's brutal western "The Revenant" and Ridley Scott's sci-fi adventure film "The Martian" earned top prizes and Sylvester Stallone drew a rousing standing ovation for his return to his signature role as Rocky Balboa in "Creed."
While Gervais delivered the kind of cringe-inducing zingers one would expect in Hollywood's booziest awards show, taking shots at everyone from Sean Penn to Caitlyn Jenner to Mel Gibson, the 73rd Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel nevertheless delivered quite a few surprises, demonstrating yet again that this awards season has been anything but predictable.
"The Revenant" was among the biggest winners of the night, earning the top prize for motion picture drama — beating out a varied field that included presumed favorite "Spotlight" as well as "Carol," "Room" and "Mad Max: Fury Road" — while Iñárritu earned the directing award and star Leonardo DiCaprio took home the lead actor prize.
In his acceptance speech, Iñárritu nodded to the widely reported challenges the film's cast and crew faced in making the movie, even as he dismissed their ultimate importance. "Every film is difficult to make ... but we all in this room know very well that pain is temporary, but a film is forever, right?" Iñárritu said. "So who cares?"
"The Martian" also pulled in big victories, taking the prize for motion picture comedy or musical over "Spy," "The Big Short," "Trainwreck" and "Joy," while Matt Damon won a lead actor award for his performance in the film as an astronaut stranded on Mars. (With the wins for "The Martian" and "The Revenant," as well as Jennifer Lawrence's lead actress win for "Joy," it was a particularly strong showing for 20th Century Fox, which released all three films.)
From the moment Globes nominations were announced, many complained that "The Martian" didn't belong in the comedy category at all. ("A comedy's a film whose #1 goal is to make people laugh," "Spy" director Paul Feig tweeted in response to the film's surprising nod.)
Taking the stage to accept the award, the film's director, Ridley Scott, seemed sympathetic to that view. "Comedy?" he said, waving his hand in an "eh, maybe not so much" motion. "But we're grateful."
Coming into the Globes, some had thought that Adam McKay's financial-crisis dramedy "The Big Short," another movie that stretched the definition of comedy, could pull out the win. But in giving the award to "The Martian," the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn., which hands out the Globes, clearly saw an opportunity to recognize Scott's entire career as a filmmaker.
While humor is undeniably an essential ingredient in "The Martian," Damon acknowledged backstage that the film's inclusion in the comedy category was eyebrow-raising. "No, it's a musical," Damon joked. "And the 18-year gap [since his last Globes win] was me working on my singing."
In other races, the Globes spread the awards love around to both newcomers and industry stalwarts. First-time nominee Brie Larson won the award for lead actress in a drama for her fierce performance in "Room," while Kate Winslet, who has long been a favorite of the HFPA, earned the supporting actress prize for "Steve Jobs," which also took home the screenplay award for Aaron Sorkin — a surprisingly strong showing for a film that proved a disappointment at the box office.
But perhaps the most emotional moment of the night came when Stallone took the stage to claim his award for "Creed" to the strains of the "Rocky" theme song and raucous applause, proving — much as the "Rocky" films themselves have always done — that there's nothing Hollywood likes better than a good comeback story.
In his acceptance speech, Stallone noted that his win came nearly 40 years after he received actor and screenplay nominations at the Globes for the original "Rocky" in 1977 — back when the Globes were a far less widely watched affair. "[Back then] I got hit by a tumbleweed," he joked. "It was a long time ago and a different situation. The view is so beautiful now."
There were big surprises on the TV side as well, as shows with relatively small audiences scored big, including Amazon's "Mozart in the Jungle," which earned Globes for comedy series and for its star, Gael García Bernal, and the USA Network's "Mr. Robot," which earned the drama series award plus one for supporting actor Christian Slater.
In his opening monologue, Gervais took aim at, among other things, Hollywood's gender pay disparity. Of the mini-trend of all-female remakes of films, including the upcoming "Ghostbusters," he cracked, "This is brilliant for the studios because they get guaranteed box office results and they don't have to spend too much money on the cast."
But at least one person took a few moments to nod to perhaps the biggest elephant in the room, the juggernaut that is "Star Wars: The Force Awakens." Noting that the film industry just wrapped a record-setting 2015, with over $11 billion in box office receipts, Scott suggested, in so many words, that the Force was with Hollywood.
"Our business is like sport," he said. "We had success [with 'The Martian'], and 'Star Wars'' majestic success is inspiring. You've got to stay hungry and keep bouncing the ball."