Sure, La La Land and The Night Manager won a lot of movie and TV awards, but Sunday night’s Golden Globes belonged — as pretty much everything does now — to Donald Trump. Host Jimmy Fallon felt obliged to throw a couple of Trump references into his opening monologue. He called the Globes “one of the few places where America still honors the popular vote,” and wondered what would have happened if Game of Thrones’ petulant, sadistic King Joffrey had lived: “Well, in 12 days we’re going to find out.”
Related: Golden Globes 2017: The Winners List
The awards given out to feature films were dominated by La La Land. (Come on: You know Kenneth Lonergan deserved the best screenplay award for Manchester by the Sea!) While The People v. O.J. Simpson and Sarah Paulson snagged trophies in the Limited Series category, the TV drama awards were dominated by wins for The Night Manager and The Crown. How did those shows manage it? Easy: The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which bestows these awards, is a sucker for foreign-made, classy productions with a literary pedigree. Thus the wins for Manager’s Tom Hiddleston and Hugh Laurie. Thus The Crown and its star, Claire Foy, taking awards from superior American productions such as The Americans and Westworld.
The best — in the sense of most well-deserved and therefore surprising — TV awards this night? The ones that went to the rookie show Atlanta and to its star and creator Donald Glover, who also gave the night’s most heartfelt and eloquent speech. Ditto the rare win for a network show: Tracee Ellis Ross of Black-ish wresting the Globe from awards-favorite Julia Louis-Dreyfus. I love Louis-Dreyfus’s work, but she’s been well-rewarded for Veep, and Ross merited this recognition.
Certainly the funniest presenters were Kristen Wiig and Steve Carell, who turned their presentation of the Best Animated Feature Film award into a fine Nichols-and-May-style moment of comedy gold.
But back to the Republican elephant (not) in the room: the president-elect. Like Fallon’s yawningly predictable La La Land taped musical opening number, the Tonight Show host’s levity about Trump was leaden. It took Hugh Laurie, a winner for The Night Manager, to make a sharper joke, noting that this might be “the last ever Golden Globes” because its sponsors “have Hollywood, foreign, and press” in their name, adding, “and Republicans even find the word ‘association’ sketchy.”
Then Meryl Streep, recipient of the Cecil B. DeMille Award, turned her time into a sustained screed against Trump, railing against what she called his “performance” — the time when he “imitated a disabled reporter” during the presidential campaign. Streep launched into a far-reaching condemnation of what she called Trump’s “instinct to humiliate.” The actress may have committed her own version of Hillary Clinton’s “basket of deplorables” error, however, in directing some of her scorn-by-implication at the audiences who like “football and mixed martial arts — which are not the arts.” In any event, it was Streep, not Fallon, who declined to normalize the imminent Trump presidency. Let the dissection of footage as to who in the star-filled audience was and was not applauding Streep begin — as will, I’m afraid, the inevitable Twitter wars.