The fine line was crossed, the elephant in the room disposed of and the Golden Globes show managed to be a celebratory evening while at the same time dealing a series of blows to the toxic system that has existed in Hollywood for so many years.
It was a show where the awards didn’t matter as much as what was said; racism, bullying, sexual harassment and, most of all, the empowerment of women, were the topics of the night.
The ballroom at the Beverly Hilton had a somber look as nearly all the women were wearing black in response to the Time’s Up movement’s call for solidarity for gender equality and against sexual harassment.
Some of the attendees — Meryl Streep, Emma Watson, Laura Dern and others — left their companions at home and instead brought women activists to the show.
Many of the winners used their acceptance speeches to make political points.
Nicole Kidman, who won for playing an abused wife in the TV series “Big Little Lies,” spoke out against the abuse of women; Laura Dern, who won for playing the mother of a bullied child in the same series, called for children and parents to speak out against bullying; Frances McDormand, winner for her role in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” spoke of the “tectonic shift” in the industry’s power structure; Elisabeth Moss, who won for her role in “The Handmaid’s Tale,” thanked the author Margaret Atwood “and all of the women who came before and after you who were brave enough to speak out against intolerance and injustice and to fight for equality and freedom in this world.”
Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. President Meher Tatna, who opted to wear bright red instead of black, nevertheless spoke of the support for women standing together and added: “Time’s Up.”
But the night belonged to Oprah Winfrey, who earned a standing ovation and wild applause for her impassioned speech while accepting the Cecil B. De Mille Award.
“I want all the girls watching here, now, to know that a new day is on the horizon,” she said. “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.”
She was so eloquent that there was speculation at the after-parties as to whether she might be considering a run for president in 2020.
Seth Myers had the difficult job of hosting the most high-profile awards show since the barrage of sexual misconduct allegations brought down dozens of men.
And he wasted no time in setting the tone by announcing: “Good evening ladies and remaining gentlemen,” and soon adding: “It’s 2018; marijuana is finally allowed and sexual harassment finally isn’t.”
He did not shrink from naming names: Harvey Weinstein, he said, “will be back in 20 years when he becomes the first person ever booed during the In Memoriam.”
Kevin Spacey and Woody Allen were also targets, and Meyers told the males nominees in the room: “This is the first time in three months it won’t be terrifying to hear your name read out loud.”
Surprise presenter Barbra Streisand said she was proud to be at an awards show filled with people who spoke out against gender inequality, sexual harassment “and the pettiness that has poisoned our politics.”
But Streisand noted that she was the only woman to win the best director Globe (for “Yentl,” in 1984) and added: “That was 34 years ago. Folks! Time’s up! We need more women directors and more women to be nominated for best director.”
The almost final word went to Gary Oldman, accepting the award for best dramatic actor in “The Darkest Hour.”
He said: “Words and actions can change the world. And boy oh boy, does it need some changing!”
John Hiscock is based in Los Angeles covering entertainment for the Daily Telegraph of London.