Did anyone miss the Golden Globes last year? Or have you noticed that Hollywood’s most rundown awards show has been boycotted back to back for lack of diversity in voting memberships?
That question remained unanswered when Globes returned. It did so with a broadcast that swayed from black comedy to boring and permissive. But that never quite stood out for its place on the awards season calendar. The best that could be said was that it would satisfy those who need more Will Smith jokes in their lives (Smith infamously slapped Chris Rock at the Oscars).
At least the stars appeared. Most of them anyway. Tom Cruise was among the prominent absences. For his trouble, he was the target of more sarcastic jokes by host Jerrod Carmichael that evening.
The comedian took to the stage holding what Cruise claimed were the three Golden Globes returned by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association to protest organizers regulating the lack of diversity. The host joked that “maybe we can take these three things and trade them for Shelly Miscavige’s safe return.” It was a reference to the (reportedly missing) wife of David Miscavige, president of the Cruise Church of Scientology. An icy silence fell.
Carmichael did not take prisoner. Ricky Gervais took pleasure in mocking the Hollywood establishment when he hosted the ceremony five times. But the new host arguably went even further in addressing Hollywood’s legacy of racism head-on.
“Settle down, deal. The people in the back. Let’s be quiet here,” he said in his opening speech. “I am being asked to present this simply because I am black.”
This got an unsettling laugh from an event that had a reputation as the loudest event on the awards calendar. This year, however, the Globes haven’t lived up to their name as Oscar’s wild cousin. The only one who was slightly worse in terms of wear was White Lotus creator Mike White, who blamed the fact that wine whips were “but not food.”
Instead, there were lots of gushing speeches—including words of thanks from White Lotus star Jennifer Coolidge to Ryan Murphy for keeping him at work at a time when no one cared and everyone was on the verge of tears. A lot of digs, too, in piped piano music that plays longer than they welcome buyers.
“Shut up please!” Accepting the award for Best Actress in a Comedy in a Musical or Motion Picture for Everything Everywhere All At Once, Michelle Yeoh said: “Forget that piano!” He accepted Colin Farrell to be nominated for the Banshees Of Inisherin award – a win that would put him in contention for the Oscars. “You can at least play Suspicions Minds or something,” said Elvis star Austin Butler.
Besides the piano, the other entity haunting the night was Will Smith. Although he was physically absent from the Beverly Hilton Hotel, he was there in spirit. Returning after a commercial break, Carmichael said Smith had been given a gong for “Best Masculinity in Television.” Eddie Murphy, who later received a lifetime achievement award, shared his tips for succeeding in show business.
“There are three things to do: pay your taxes, mind your business, and keep the name of Will Smith’s wife out of your mouth.”
This got a laugh. So is Regina Hall’s explanation of why Kevin Costner skipped the ceremony. “He really wanted to be here – I’m sure he did. But due to unprecedented weather and flooding, he has to take shelter somewhere in Santa Barbara,” she chuckled—referring to a well-off LA suburb that has been rocked by storms along with much of Southern California. “
Everyone applauded. That’s more than can be said for another Carmichael joke. “We’re here alive from the hotel that killed Whitney Houston,” he said, referring to the fact that Houston passed away at the Beverly Hills Hilton in 2012.
But despite all the timeless jokes and warm applause, some moments resonated. Steven Spielberg candidly talked about the motivation behind his movie The Fabelmans, for which he won the Best Motion Picture Director award and benefiting from his childhood love of cinema. Be honest that it wasn’t easy being a kid in the end,” she said.
You can also feel the emotion of actor Ke Huy Quan accepting the Best Supporting Actor award for Everything Everywhere All At Once.
He was 12 when Spielberg selected him as Indiana Jones’ sidekick in Temple of Doom. And for years he wondered if this would be the pinnacle of his career (his inability to act had caused him to quit). Now he had a second chance.
“I was raised to never forget where I came from,” the Vietnamese-born actor said. “I felt very lucky to have been selected. As I got older I began to wonder if it was just luck. For years I feared that I had nothing else to offer,” he said.
She sent back her tears. It was one of those rare moments when the Golden Globes felt like something real and meaningful rather than an artificial simulacrum or a flawed backstroke.