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Netflix came to conquer Golden Globes but Sony, Universal and HBO won out

1917 (2019)
Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman, left) and Schofield (George MacKay) in 1917, the new epic from Oscar-winning filmmaker Sam Mendes.
(François Duhamel / Universal Pictures and DreamWorks Pictures)

To quote Jared Harris, of HBO’s miniseries “Chernobyl”: “Sorry, Netflix.”

Netflix may have come into the Golden Globes ceremony with the potential to dominate the competition in both movies and TV shows. But it was HBO, the home of “Chernobyl” and “Succession,” that had the biggest night in the television categories.

Among the film studios, Sony Pictures emerged as the biggest winner, thanks to its gamble on Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood,” which won for comedy or musical film, while Universal Pictures’ World War I drama “1917” took the trophies for best picture drama and for director Sam Mendes.

The odds had appeared to be in Netflix’s favor.

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Netflix came into the Golden Globes — presented Sunday at the Beverly Hilton — in a dominant position with 34 nominations for its films and shows. The Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. bestowed Netflix with 17 nominations in film categories, far more than any other studio. The streaming service also came in with 17 nods for TV shows and limited series including “The Crown” and “Unbelievable,” slightly topping HBO, which was nominated for 15.

Yet, when it came to present the actual awards, HBO had the most powerful showing in TV categories.

HBO won four awards for prestigious shows including “Succession,” a sharply written satire about a wealthy family fighting for control of their powerful media and entertainment empire. “Succession” won kudos for best drama series and dramatic actor (Brian Cox).

The network also found success with historical drama “Chernobyl,” which won best limited series and best supporting actor in a limited series (Stellan Skarsgård).

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HBO’s wins come at a time when some have questioned whether the pay-TV channel can maintain the high standard for quality under the ownership of AT&T. The Dallas-based phone company bought the channel along with the rest of Time Warner in 2018.

In film, Sony Pictures scored three awards for “Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood,” Tarantino’s alternative take on the Manson family murders. In addition to best comedy/musical, it won for screenplay (Tarantino) and supporting actor (Brad Pitt).

The success of “Once Upon a Time” is hardly surprising. In film, the HFPA, which consists of about 90 members, is famous for rewarding star power, which Tarantino’s sprawling exploration of late-1960s Los Angeles offered in spades. The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Pitt as a fictional actor and stuntman, along with Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate.

For movie studios, networks and streaming companies, awards season is a key opportunity to burnish their reputations in Hollywood and draw talent to create even more binge-worthy content.

Netflix, which transformed itself into a major movie studio by releasing dozens of films last year, has benefited from flooding the market with potential awards contenders. The company, known for spending big on campaigns, is waging a rare three-way best picture Oscar push this year for “The Irishman,” “Marriage Story” and “The Two Popes.”

Follow along for live updates and behind-the-scenes happenings from the team of L.A. Times journalists inside and outside the event.

Netflix is counting on high-profile original movies and shows to remain ahead of competitors such as the recently launched Disney+ and Apple TV+, in addition to upcoming offerings like HBO Max and Peacock.

For best picture drama, three of the five nominees were released by Netflix: Martin Scorsese’s mob epic “The Irishman,” Noah Baumbach’s “Marriage Story” and Fernando Meirelles’s “The Two Popes,” starring Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce. Warner Bros.’ Scorsese-inspired DC villain origin story, “Joker,” was also nominated.

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Yet it was “1917,” Sam Mendes’ film about a dangerous trench warfare mission, that emerged triumphant, in an upset victory for Comcast-owned Universal. In another major surprise, Mendes also won best director for “1917,” beating Scorsese and delivering Universal Pictures a coveted trophy. The World War I film was made to look as if it were filmed in a single, unbroken shot, a technical feat that has wowed critics.

Netflix ended up with two awards: For Laura Dern’s supporting performance in “Marriage Story” and Olivia Colman’s lead role in the British drama series “The Crown.”

Besides Netflix, a handful of streamers battled for awards attention. Hulu’s series “Ramy” won best actor in a comedy or musical series for its star and namesake Ramy Youssef. The Disney-controlled streaming service also won for Patricia Arquette’s role in “The Act.”

“Fleabag” carried the flag for Amazon Prime Video in television categories. The British series, created by and starring Phoebe Waller-Bridge, took home the awards for best musical or comedy series and best actress.

“The Morning Show,” starring Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon, earned Apple TV+ its first Golden Globe nominations. The nods were seen as a boost for the iPhone maker’s foray into entertainment after its shows and new streaming service debuted to mixed reviews in November. But the series came up short with no awards.

Besides Sony, several traditional studios took home major prizes.

ViacomCBS-owned Paramount Pictures earned two awards for “Rocketman”: original song, “I’m Gonna Love Me Again,” written by Elton John and his longtime lyricist Bernie Taupin, and actor in a musical or comedy for Taron Egerton, who portrays John.

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Warner Bros.’ “Joker” won two awards, including best dramatic actor for Joaquin Phoenix, who plays the iconic DC villain in the gritty R-rated picture. The film also won for original score.

Among the indie distributors, A24’s “The Farewell,” written and directed by Lulu Wang, earned Awkwafina the award for actress, musical or comedy.

Indie distributor Neon’s “Parasite” won for foreign-language film. Bong Joon Ho’s satirical thriller about a poor family that infiltrates a wealthy clan is expected to be a top contender for best picture at the Oscars. Another nominated film in the category was French film “Portrait of a Lady on Fire,” which was also released by New York-based Neon.

In another surprise, Laika Studios’ stop-motion film “Missing Link” won best animated film, over Walt Disney Studios movies “Toy Story 4,” “The Lion King” and “Frozen 2.” “Missing Link” was distributed by United Artists Releasing in the U.S. Laika, based in Portland, Ore., is known for acclaimed, visually striking films such as “Kubo and the Two Strings” and “Coraline.”

“Judy,” released domestically by Roadside Attractions, got Renée Zellweger the honor for best actress in a drama movie.

In television, Showtime benefited from Russell Crowe’s portrayal of the late Fox News chairman Roger Ailes in “The Loudest Voice.” Showtime is owned by the recently recombined ViacomCBS.

Michelle Williams scored an award for FX Networks for her role in “Fosse/Verdon.”


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