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Golden Globes 2019: The highs, the lows and the head-scratchers

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The Golden Globes can usually be counted on for a good time, what with all the celebrities drinking and bumping into each other. Alas, the best adjective for describing this year’s ceremony might be “snoozy.” Despite the significant charm and goodwill brought by its hosts, Andy Samberg and Sandra Oh, the energy in the room was low and surprises were few. Of course, the ceremony did have its moments — including a well-deserved win for Oh, Christian Bale’s highly unusual acceptance speech, and the recognition of entertainment legends Carol Burnett and Jeff Bridges. Here, the highs, lows (two words: flu shots) and head-scratchers (does anyone watch The Kominsky Method?) of the 2019 Golden Globes. — Ethan Alter & Gwynne Watkins

HIGH: The Oh family

Sandra Oh has a history of bringing her mom and dad along as her dates when she walks the red carpet, so naturally they were in the audience to witness Oh’s beautiful opening monologue moment. (Mama Oh also did her daughter a solid by providing a pitch-perfect reaction shot to a Crazy Rich Asians joke.) They also saw her make history as the first Asian actress to win the statue for Best Actress in a drama series for Killing Eve, and Oh brought tears to our collective eyes when she thanked them in their native Korean. Can we please come to the next Oh family dinner party?

LOW: Stabbing stars with needles

Look, we’re all for reminding the public about the importance of getting a flu shot. But sending a group of fake doctors out into the crowd to administer fake (we hope) doses of flu vaccine aren’t a great advertisement for the necessary reality of maintaining herd immunity. Let’s just consign that failed bit of business to the same memory hole that cringe-inducing Oscar-night Wrinkle in Time stunt vanished into.

HIGH: Christian Bale thanks Satan

It’s not unusual for actors to thank God in their acceptance speeches, but Bale broke with tradition by giving thanks to the other guy. “Thank you to Satan for giving me inspiration on how to play this role,” Bale said while accepting his Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy for playing former VP Dick Cheney in Vice. His joke generated a shocked laugh in the room, as well as a positive response from the Church of Satan on Twitter.

Christian Bale thanks Satan as he accepts a Golden Globe. (Photo: Paul Drinkwater/NBC via AP)
Christian Bale thanks Satan as he accepts a Golden Globe. (Photo: Paul Drinkwater/NBC via AP)

HIGH: The inaugural Carol Burnett Award

“Do I get to accept it every year?” joked 85-year-old Burnett upon receiving the first annual Carol Burnett Award for excellence in television. The comedian’s appearance started out with a great gag, in which presenter Steve Carell announced the “nominees” for Carol’s award (including a surprised Charlize Theron and Christian Bale) while Burnett crossed her fingers backstage. But the speech itself was touching and bittersweet. Burnett talked about how she fell in love with television as a child when it was a new medium, and how her comedy-variety series The Carol Burnett Show, which ran from 1967 to 1978 on CBS, could never be made today (she cited the show’s live orchestra, 12 dancers, two guest stars and 65 costumes a week, for starters). “Here’s to reruns and YouTube,” she said wryly. Still, Burnett expressed gratitude for all the opportunities available in television today, wished future award recipients well, and ended with a line from her old sign-off song: “I am so glad we had this time together.” It was a true passing of the torch from a genuine living legend.

Carol Burnett accepts the Carol Burnett TV Achievement Award. (Photo: Paul Drinkwater/NBCUniversal via Getty Images)
Carol Burnett accepts the Carol Burnett TV Achievement Award. (Photo: Paul Drinkwater/NBCUniversal via Getty Images)

HEAD-SCRATCHER: The Kominsky Method takes the comedy crown

Given the HFPA’s penchant for honoring Hollywood legends, it’s not a huge shock that The Kominsky Method star Michael Douglas beat out whippersnappers like Bill Hader and Donald Glover for Best Actor in a Television Series — Musical or Comedy. But the Netflix show’s win for Best Musical or Comedy series was a bit baffling, considering that the competition included higher-profile series like Barry and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. We can only think that the steady stream of prostate jokes must have resonated with the voters.

HIGH: Regina King challenges Hollywood

Frances McDormand made “inclusion riders” the entertainment industry’s buzziest word at last year’s Oscars. Now, Best Supporting Actress winner Regina King has presented Hollywood with a new goal: ensuring that women make up 50% of the workforce on any film or television production. “I challenge anyone out there … in all industries, to challenge yourselves and stand with us in solidarity and do the same,” said the star of If Beale Street Could Talk, who vowed to practice what she preaches.

Regina King accepting a Golden Globe for her role in <em>If Beale Street Could Talk</em> (Photo: Paul Drinkwater/NBC via AP)
Regina King accepting a Golden Globe for her role in If Beale Street Could Talk (Photo: Paul Drinkwater/NBC via AP)

LOW: If you come at the Panther, you’d best not miss

Andy, Andy, Andy: You should have stopped at “Michael B. Buff AF.” The Globes co-host tried to work some Black Panther gags into his opening monologue, with mixed success. After getting a smile, and GIF-worthy reaction shot, out of Jordan for the aforementioned joke about the actor’s impressive muscles, Samberg turned his attention to director Ryan Coogler and tried to draw a connection between Black Panther and the Black Panther Party. Coogler’s reaction — confusion, followed by irritation — spoke for all of us.

HIGH: A diverse year gets a diverse group of winners

The HFPA set some personal bests with its diverse lineup of Globe nominees, and the winners’ list also reflected the changing face of Hollywood. Sandra Oh, for example, is the first actress of Asian origin to take home the Best Actress in a Drama Series statue, while Rami Malek is only the second actor of Egyptian descent (after Omar Sharif) to win the Globe for Best Actor in a Drama. Elsewhere, Green Book‘s Mahershala Ali picked up the Best Supporting Actor statue, which he missed out on two years ago for Moonlight, and the Mexico City-born filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón won his second Best Director prize for Roma.

HIGH: Spoofing the Emmys

An otherwise dull Emmy Awards was enlivened by a surprise proposal, so you can’t blame the dynamic duo of Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph for trying to shake up a bland Golden Globes with a buzzy engagement. The former Saturday Night Live co-stars cheekily proclaimed their love in front of the entire world and Bill Murray, who playfully heckled Rudolph at the top of their set. He’d better be the one officiating the ceremony.

Maya Rudolph pops the question to Amy Poehler at the Golden Globes. (Photo: Paul Drinkwater/NBC Universal/Handout via Reuters)
Maya Rudolph pops the question to Amy Poehler at the Golden Globes. (Photo: Paul Drinkwater/NBC Universal/Handout via Reuters)

LOW: The pumped-up volume

We know that the Golden Globes likes to bill itself as Hollywood’s biggest party. But if the revelers aren’t careful, someone’s gonna call the cops to report some serious noise violations. The volume in the International Ballroom was noticeably loud; so loud, the hosts and presenters occasionally looked thrown. And certain winners — looking at you, American Crime Story — pushed the decibel levels into nails-on-a-chalkboard range.

HIGH: Olivia Colman’s enthusiasm

English actress Olivia Colman has been working in television and film for almost 20 years, but her role as Queen Anne in The Favourite has catapulted her to Hollywood stardom.

Olivia Colman poses with her Golden Globe Award. (Photo: Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
Olivia Colman poses with her Golden Globe Award. (Photo: Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

Although Colman was a favorite to win Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy, her surprise and delight at receiving the award was refreshing — as was her thanking the HFPA for “the sandwiches,” affectionately referring to co-stars Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz as “my bitches,” and raving about her experience making The Favourite (“I went on a private jet, and I ate constantly throughout the film, it was brilliant! … I had a f***ing blast.”). It was a welcome contrast to the Globe winners who didn’t even crack a smile onstage (ahem, Alan Arkin).

HIGH: Fiji product placement

The Globes’ sponsor not only provided free water all night, but introduced one enterprising staffer who managed to photobomb nearly every celebrity on the red carpet. Fiji definitely got its money’s worth.

The Fiji Water Woman is watching. (Photos: Getty)
The Fiji Water Woman is watching. (Photos: Getty)

LOW: Green Book‘s shameless speechifying

Green Book has attracted controversy for its simplistic portrayal of the Jim Crow South, and for taking liberties with the true story on which it was based (about the friendship between a famed African-American pianist and his Italian-American driver). Nevertheless, the film won the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy. While accepting the award, director Peter Farrelly delivered the night’s longest, most self-indulgent speech, bringing his kids onstage, yelling at the orchestra when they tried to play him off, and finishing with a tone-deaf epilogue about racism that suggested it wouldn’t be a problem today if we all just tried a little harder to get along.

HEAD-SCRATCHER: A Star Is Born, snubbed

In addition to being one of the biggest and most acclaimed films of 2018, A Star Is Born seemed to hit all of the HFPA’s sweet spots: It usually loves musicals, star power and show-business stories, plus it’s honored both Gaga and Cooper in the past. Yet Cooper’s directorial debut was passed over in every category but Best Original Song, which it deservedly won. Will the losses affect Gaga’s Oscar frontrunner status? Either way, the pop star gets points for being the most gracious loser in the room, standing and applauding the moment Glenn Close was named as the winner in her category.

HIGH: Glenn Close gets her first Globe in a decade

We didn’t expect Close to beat Lady Gaga for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture — Drama, and neither did anyone else in the room. But the stunned Close, who last won for the TV show Damages in 2008, was a worthy opponent, for her performance in the little-seen drama The Wife.

In an emotional, inspiring speech, she described how so many women — including her mother — put their own dreams and desires aside to nurture their husbands and families. Close urged women in the audience not to make the same mistake. “We have to say, ‘I can do that, and I should be allowed to do that,'” she declared, and received a standing ovation.

HIGH: The Dude abides

Jeff Bridges was the recipient of this year’s Cecil B. DeMille Award for career achievement, and his appearance was a highlight of the ceremony — from the career-highlights montage narrated by Sam Elliott (a nod to The Big Lebowski) to the laid-back speech in which Bridges thanked people from throughout his entire career, seemingly off the top of his head.

Jeff Bridges accepts the Cecil B. DeMille Award. (Photo: Paul Drinkwater/NBC via AP)
Jeff Bridges accepts the Cecil B. DeMille Award. (Photo: Paul Drinkwater/NBC via AP)

He was so fun to watch that the next presenter, Harrison Ford, was inspired to deadpan, “Nobody told me I’d have to follow Jeff Bridges.”

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