Gold Standard: Led by Oprah Winfrey, women take center stage at the Golden Globes
The 75th Golden Globes were the first major awards show of Hollywood’s #MeToo movement, and the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. didn’t miss its cue.
The procession of black dresses that began at the Beverly Hilton’s red carpet moved to the winner’s podium as films and television shows driven by women — “Lady Bird,” “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “Big Little Lies” and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” — prevailed at a ceremony marked mostly by serious speeches focusing on months of allegations and admissions of sexual harassment within Hollywood.
“There’s a new era underway,” host Seth Meyers said moments into his opening monologue, “and I can tell, because it’s been years since a white man was this nervous in Hollywood.”
“By the way,” he continued, “a special hello to hosts of other upcoming awards shows that are watching me tonight — like the first dog they shot into outer space.”
If this year’s Globes marked a new age for awards shows, it wasn’t remarkably different from previous editions, save for the monochromatic evening wear, the on-point #MeToo messaging and, for the most part, the jettisoning of snark, though the show did have a few priceless, snide moments. (Natalie Portman, presenting the director category: “And here are the all-male nominees.”)
The evening, long marketed as the looser, less inhibited answer to the stodgy Oscars, actually felt a lot like the Academy Awards with plenty of effusive and heartfelt acceptance speeches, with particular note being paid to the front-row presence of Oprah Winfrey, the recipient of the HFPA’s Cecil B. DeMille honor. (Meyers did one bit pegged to Winfrey running for president in 2020.)
All that attention proved prescient as Winfrey delivered the evening’s big powerhouse moment with nearly everyone in the Beverly Hilton’s ballroom hanging on every word.
“I’ve interviewed and portrayed people who’ve withstood some of the ugliest things life can throw at you, but the one quality all of them seem to share is an ability to maintain hope for a brighter morning — even during our darkest nights,” Winfrey said. “So I want all the girls watching here and now to know that a new day is on the horizon. And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say, ‘Me too,’ again.”
If Winfrey’s speech (one she had been asked to trim by three minutes … nope) was a stirring, spiritual call to arms, Frances McDormand used her moment, a win for lead drama actress for “Three Billboards,” to deliver a couple of caustic broadsides, even, as she noted, “I keep my politics private.”
McDormand praised the HFPA because “they managed to elect a female president.” And then she addressed the women in attendance.
“It was really great to be in this room tonight and to be a part of a tectonic shift in our industry’s power structure,” McDormand said. “Trust me, the women in here tonight are not here for the food. We are here for the work.”
“There’s no going back,” McDormand added backstage. “No, we just go forward, in the best possible way.”
“Three Billboards,” with McDormand playing a grieving mother seeking justice for her murdered daughter, took the most movie awards, with trophies for drama film, screenplay and supporting actor Sam Rockwell. Guillermo del Toro won for directing “The Shape of Water,” a sweet, sincere fantasy about a romance between a mute cleaning woman and an Amazonian river god.
The mother-daughter coming-of-age story “Lady Bird” took feature film honors for comedy/musical with Saoirse Ronan winning for her lead turn as the extraordinarily ordinary high school senior.
“Get Out,” nominated in that category and also for Daniel Kaluuya’s lead turn, did not win any awards. “The Post” and “Dunkirk” were similarly shut out.
Two of the year’s biggest television events premiered shortly after last year’s Globes ceremony, and the HFPA, a group that takes delight in beating Emmy voters to the punch, had little choice but to follow their more esteemed counterparts and recognize Hulu’s drama “The Handmaid’s Tale” and HBO’s limited series “Big Little Lies.”
Elisabeth Moss, herself an Emmy winner for playing a baby-making slave in a near-future patriarchal society, took the lead actress Globe, dedicating the honor to “Handmaid’s Tale” author Margaret Atwood.
“Margaret Atwood, this is for you and and all of the women who came before you and after you who were brave enough to speak out against intolerance and injustice, and to fight for equality and freedom in this world,” Moss said. “We no longer live in the blank, white spaces at the edge of print. We no longer live in the gaps in the stories. We are the stories in print, and we are writing the stories ourselves.”
Moss wasn’t the only one honoring an iconic woman. Carol Burnett earned a standing ovation, with fellow presenter Jennifer Aniston asking if she could imitate Burnett’s legendary sign-off move and pull on the legend’s ear. (“Kinky!” Burnett joked, asking, “Was it everything you dreamed it would be?”)
Barbra Streisand received a standing ovation too, and roaring applause when she noted that she remains the only woman to win the Golden Globe for directing — an honor she received 34 years ago.
“Folks, time’s up,” she said, repeating the night’s prevailing message: Women are no longer content to remain on the margins.
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