The Crown reigned with several awards at this year’s Golden Globes, as other British stars including Sacha Baron Cohen and John Boyega were also big winners.
On the night the ceremony went virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there were historic moments as Chloe Zhao became only the second woman to win the best director prize, for Nomadland, while the late Chadwick Boseman was honoured posthumously for his final on-screen performance in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.
There had been controversy ahead of the awards, with accusations that votes can easily be influenced and criticism over the lack of diversity in the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the organisation behind the ceremony. This was addressed during the show, both in a jokey opening monologue by hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, but also seriously by HFPA members who went on stage and promised to put things right.
When it came to the awards, British stars dominated the ceremony. Josh O’Connor and newcomer Emma Corrin, who play Prince Charles and Diana in The Crown, were named best actor and actress in a TV drama, and the royal series won the gong for best drama overall. The show also scooped another win thanks to American star Gillian Anderson, who was named best supporting actress for her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher.
Corrin, who beat co-star and previous winner Olivia Colman, who plays the Queen, seemed shocked as her name was read out.
She referred to O’Connor as “my prince charming” and paid tribute to Diana in her speech, saying: “Thank you so much to Diana, you have taught me compassion and empathy beyond anything I could ever imagine.”
O’Connor said he had the “time of my life” working on the show and described Corrin as “extraordinarily talented, funny and a brilliant player of rock, paper, scissors”.
Other British winners included Daniel Kaluuya for Judas And The Black Messiah, John Boyega for Small Axe, Rosamund Pike for I Care A Lot, Anya Taylor-Joy (who has dual citizenship) for The Queen’s Gambit, and Sacha Baron Cohen, who was a double winner for Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, which was named comedy film of the year.
Kaluuya, who received the night’s first award, fell victim to technical issues on a night that went otherwise quite smoothly, with viewers unable to hear his initial speech. “You’re doing me dirty,” he joked when his sound returned.
In an emotional speech, a tearful Taylor Simone Ledward Boseman accepted her late husband’s award for best lead actor in a drama. Boseman, who died in August aged 43 following a four-year battle with cancer, is widely expected to follow the Golden Globe with an Oscar nomination and win.
“He would thank God,” she said. “He would thank his parents. He would thank his ancestors for their guidance and their sacrifices. He would say something beautiful, something inspiring, something that would amplify that little voice inside of all of us that tells you ‘you can’, that tells you to keep going, that calls you back to what you were meant to be doing at this moment in history.”
Zhao was honoured for her work on Nomadland, which stars two-time Oscar winner Frances McDormand and also includes non-professional actors. Winning the award for best director, she became only the second woman ever to do so – some 37 years after Barbra Streisand picked up the prize for Yentl.
“Sometimes a first feels like a long time coming. You feel like, it’s about time,” Zhao said after the ceremony. “I’m sure there’s many others before me that deserve the same recognition. If this means more people like me get to live their dreams and do what I do, I’m happy.”
The ceremony was very different to those of previous years, with a pared-back red carpet for just a few presenters, while nominees appeared virtually from around the world.
Hosting for a fourth time, Fey and Poehler did so from separate locations, presenting from New York and Los Angeles due to the pandemic, and this year the audiences were made up of essential workers rather than A-listers.
They addressed the criticism over the HFPA’s lack of diversity, with Fey saying that while “we all know that awards shows are stupid”, even “with stupid things inclusivity is important”.
She added: “You gotta change that. So here’s to changing it.”
Baron Cohen also addressed the issue, saying thank you “to the all-white Hollywood foreign press” in one of his acceptance speeches for the Borat sequel.
The actor also praised the crew of the film for putting themselves in danger while shooting undercover amid the pandemic, saying they were at risk of arrest and of getting the virus.
“They did that because we all believed so deeply in releasing this movie before the election to show the danger from lies, hate and conspiracies, and the power of truth, empathy and democracy,” he said.
The night’s honorary prizes went to veteran actress and activist Jane Fonda, who received the Cecil B DeMille Award, and Norman Lear, who claimed the Carol Burnett Award.
Analysis: Lack of diversity and alleged culture of corruption was a running theme
By Lucy Cotter, arts & entertainment correspondent
If anyone was hoping the challenges presented by COVID-19 would mean the Globes would be over a bit quicker – they’d be very much mistaken.
However, what we did get was a glimpse into the homes or at least hotel rooms of some of the stars, in a ceremony which combined the physical with the virtual to varying degrees of success.
The headline has to be – “Didn’t we do well” with the Brits winning in most of the categories they were nominated for.
Wins for Daniel Kaluuya, who made us all feel slightly less inept by struggling to unmute his zoom and John Boyega set the tone.
Huge and well-deserved success to The Crown and all who serve in it with wins for the series as well as the acting talent and so apt given most of us have spent the last year glued to our TVs during lockdown.
The brilliant The Queen’s Gambit also from Netflix won 2 of the top prizes – best limited TV series and best actor for Anna Taylor-Joy (who we are legitimately claiming given the fact she moved to the UK when she was 6!).
Sacha Baron Cohen did the double as well and true to form didn’t disappoint with his speeches. Not only did he rip into Rudy Giuliani, he saluted the films crew for braving COVID and referred to the “all-white HFPA” alluding to the lack of black members in the Hollywood Foreign Press Association which runs the Globes.
The continued controversy over the awards lack of diversity and alleged culture of corruption was a running theme throughout the ceremony and jokes aside might well be what’s remembered.
However, they must also get some plaudits for crowning Chloe Zhao best director, she’s the first Asian woman to win the award and only the second woman ever to do so.
Highlights from the night also include John Boyega on Twitter, celebrating ‘alone at home’ in his tux and tracksuit bottoms which couldn’t be more COVID; David Fincher doing shots when he lost and all the bizarre photos of stars dressed up to the nines, posing like crazy in their gardens – reminiscent of an episode of Through the Keyhole on heat.