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The 2021 Golden Globes took place in a bicoastal ceremony for the first time. Returning co-hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler broadcasted live from their respective bases — Fey from the Rainbow Room in New York City and Poehler inside The Beverly Hilton, where the show usually takes place.
The hosts kicked off the 78th annual awards show with a split-screen opening monologue that addressed the lack of diverse representation in the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and among the 2021 nominees.
“A number of Black actors and Black-led projects were overlooked,” Poehler said toward the end of the monologue. Fey echoed that sentiment. “Inclusivity is important, and there are no Black members of the Hollywood Foreign Press,” she said. “But you’ve gotta change that. So, here’s to changing it.”
Poehler also announced that the HFPA, MRC and NBC will be donating $2 million to Feeding America’s COVID-19 response fund.
From technical difficulties to an emotional Chadwick Boseman tribute and all of the calls for inclusion throughout the night, The Hollywood Reporter has rounded up all of Sunday night’s standout moments.
Read on for the most memorable moments of the 78th annual Golden Globes.
Jane Fonda’s Cecil B. DeMile Award Acceptance Speech
Every year, the HFPA bestows its highest honor, the Cecil B. DeMille Award, on one legendary actor or actress. This year, the award went to Jane Fonda, the 83-year-old actress who is the 67th — and 16th female — recipient of the award.
“For more than five decades, Jane’s breadth of work has been anchored in her unrelenting activism, using her platform to address some of the most important social issues of our time,” HFPA president Ali Sar said in a statement on Jan. 26. “Her undeniable talent has gained her the highest level of recognition, and while her professional life has taken many turns, her unwavering commitment to evoking change has remained.”
And the veteran actor brought that activism to her acceptance speech Sunday night, calling for Hollywood to “expand that tent” of who is allowed to tell stories in the industry. “Stories can really change people,” she said during her acceptance speech. “But there are stories we’ve been afraid to see and hear in this industry … about who is offered a seat at the table.” She added, “After all, art has always been not just in step with history but has led the way, so let’s be leaders. OK?”
She also shouted out various movie and TV titles from that last year that she was particularly affected by, like Nomadland, Minari, Judas and the Black Messiah, Ramy and I May Destroy You.
Fey and Poehler began the night the way they always do: with laughs. Though the duo hosted from opposite coasts, they didn’t let that keep their rapport down. Poehler made a joke about how she was actually hosting the 78th Hunger Games. Fey assured the viewers they wouldn’t even be able to tell the hosts were in different cities, extending her arm to put it on Poehler’s shoulder, while someone out of frame at the Beverly Hilton placed their hand on Poehler.
The duo took playful stabs at the A-list celebrities often sitting front and center at every major award show of the season. “It’s usually like Meryl Streep just hammered, can’t even remember what movie she’s there for,” Fey said. “Brad Pitt’s always waving at me like, ‘Amy, Amy,’ and I’m like, ‘Dude, I’m working,'” Poehler joked. “Oprah Winfrey just writing her name all over the table cloth in pen,” Fey added. “Quentin Tarantino crawling under the table just touching people’s feet,” Poehler said.
Instead of A-listers this year, however, first responders and essential workers filled the seats at the Golden Globes. “We are so grateful for the work that you do, so the celebrities can stay safely at home,” Fey said jokingly.
And Fey and Poehler weren’t going to let their opening monologue come and go without addressing a very important issue that spans across various awards shows: lack of diversity. “Everybody is, understandably, upset at the HFPA and their choices. Look, a lot of flashy garbage got nominated, but that happens. OK, that’s like their thing,” Poehler began. “We all know that award shows are stupid,” Fey added,” But the point is, even [with] stupid things, inclusivity is important.”
The first award of the night went to Daniel Kaluuya for his supporting role in Judas and the Black Messiah, but as he was giving his acceptance speech, his live stream sound cut out. Before it was clear what was happening, viewers heard someone off-camera — the director, perhaps — saying, “I wish we could hear him,” as Kaluuya silently mouthed his acceptance speech. The camera then cut back to presenter Laura Dern, who said, “As you can see, we unfortunately have a bad connection. We apologize for that technical problem and send all of our congratulations to Daniel on his Golden Globe win.”
Quickly, however, the broadcast cut back and you could hear Kaluuya saying, “You did me dirty! Am I on? Is this on? Can you hear me now? All right, cool, we got this,” and then proceeded to give his acceptance speech. He thanked the film’s director and the “incredible” cast, as well as Black Panther chairman Fred Hampton, whom he portrayed in the movie. At the end of his speech, Kaluuya raised a glass to his fellow nominees, Sacha Baron Cohen, Jared Leto, Bill Murray and Leslie Odom Jr.
In the virtual press room later in the show, he joked about the tech issues, saying that’s what happens in a pandemic. “They got into the Wi-Fi. Corona is being spread on the Wi-Fi,” he said.
Norman Lear Accepts the Carol Burnett Award
Norman Lear received the HFPA’s most prestigious TV award. “I’ve had a lifetime of partners, performers, associations and creative talents for which I am eternally grateful,” adding that if it weren’t for them, “there would be an entirely different Norman Lear tonight.”
He thanked writer Ed Simmons, his former writing partner Bud Yorkin, producer Roland Kibbee and TV creator Mark E. Pollack, as well as other writers like Mike Royce and Gloria Calderón Kellett. Lear made it a purpose to shout-out his producer Brent Miller, saying “It’s his back I rode in on as he rode in on mine to get here tonight.”
As for the award’s namesake, Lear said, “I am convinced that laughter adds time to one’s life and no one has made me laugh harder … than [she has],” the 98-year-old said in his acceptance speech. “Thank you, Carol Burnett … as I think about you and laughter and the joy of our parallel careers, so glad we have this time together.”
Chadwick Boseman Remembered
The late actor received his first posthumous award of the season for his role in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. His wife, Simone Ledward Boseman, accepted the award in his honor, delivering an emotional speech that left viewers and fellow nominees in tears.
If Boseman were alive, she said, “he would thank God. He would thank his parents. He would thank his ancestors for their guidance and their sacrifices.” She continued, “He would say something beautiful, something inspiring, something that would amplify that little voice inside of us that tells us you can, that tells you to keep going, that calls you back to what you were meant to be doing in this moment.”
Even though he died, the actor continues to break barriers. Boseman is the first Black acting posthumous winner in history, and the first acting winner for a film that debuted on a streaming service in this category.
“At this moment in history, he would thank Mr. George C. Wolf, Mr. Denzel Washington, lots of people at Netflix. He would thank Ms. Viola Davis, Mr. Michael Potts, Mr. Coleman Domingo, Ms. Taylor Page, Mr. Dusan Brown,” Ledward Boseman said between tears. “And I don’t have his words, but we have to take all the moment to celebrate those we love. So, thank you, HFPA, for this opportunity to do exactly that.”
Earlier in the night, a group of children paid tribute to the late actor’s iconic role as the Black Panther. TikTok user La’Ron Hines asked a group of young kids who Chadwick Boseman was, and every single one of them knew, despite thinking The Queen’s Gambit was about fire trucks.
Virtual But Not Disconnected
Though the nominees and their fellow industry folks couldn’t be together in person like they usually are for awards shows, the Golden Globes producers still managed to find a way for them to connect. Right before cutting to commercial breaks, producers showed five or six screens at once and allowed the actors to talk, joke, laugh and simply interact with each other like they would if they were at the Beverly Hilton.
The Pets That Stole the Show
As a result of many of the nominees tuning in via video call from their respective homes, some four-legged friends made their television debuts, starting with Regina King’s dog during the Golden Globes pre-show. Sarah Paulson’s dog and Olivia Corrin’s cat also made a special appearance, as did Jodie Foster’s dog.
Rosamund Pike Thanks “America’s Broken Legal System”
Rosamund Pike took home the award for best performance by an actress in a motion picture, comedy or musical for her role in I Care a Lot. She beat out Maria Bakalova, Kate Hudson, Michelle Pfeiffer and Anya Taylor-Joy. Pike thanked the HFPA and Netflix but made it a purpose to especially acknowledge Bakalova.
“In my movie I had to swim up from a sinking car, I think I’d still rather do that than being in a room with Rudy Giuliani,” Pike said in her acceptance speech. “Maria, I salute your brilliance and your bravery.”
She also thanked “America’s broken legal system for making it possible to make stories like this.” The movie follows a professional legal guardian who defrauds her elderly clients by using the loopholes in America’s conservatorship system.
Lack of Diversity Doesn’t Go Unnoticed
Calling out the HFPA for its lack of representation didn’t stop with Poehler and Fey’s opening monologue or Fonda’s acceptance speech. Throughout the show, various celebrities made remarks either directly or indirectly addressing the work the HFPA still has to do. In fact, at the beginning of the show three of the organization’s members came onto the stage to publicly address its lack of Black members.
“We recognize we have our own work to do,” Helen Hoehne of Germany said. “Just like in film and television, Black representation is vital. We must have Black journalists in our organization.” Former HFPA president Meher Tatna of India agreed, “We must ensure everyone gets a seat at our table,” as did Turkish member Ali Sar: “That means creating an environment where diversity is the norm, not an exception. Thank you.”
Sacha Baron Cohen and Dan Levy addressed the need for improvement in their acceptance speeches for their respective awards. “Thank you to the all-white Hollywood Foreign Press,” Cohen slipped into his acceptance speech for best musical/comedy motion picture. “In the spirit of inclusion, I hope this time next year this ceremony includes the true breadth and depth of the industry today,” Levy said.
Presenters Sterling K. Brown and Susan Kelechi Watson also noted the lack of diversity when presenting the award for best actor in a TV series, musical or comedy. “It is great to be Black — back — at the Golden Globes,” Brown said.
Before the Globes began, Ava DuVernay took to Twitter to further explain the importance of representing Black and other people of color in all aspects of Hollywood. “To be clear, pressure applied to the Globes and its partners from now on isn’t about validation or shiny things from this particular group,” she wrote. “The truth that’s not often discussed is that awards play a part in the economic reality of Black filmmakers, artists of color and women creators in this business. Unfortunately, these shiny things matter to those who finance, greenlight, produce, distribute and market our projects. Therefore, everyone must have balanced access and consideration so that the playing field can be more equitable for artists of all kinds, colors and cultures.”
Tracy Morgan’s “Sal” Snafu
It’s almost like John Travolta and Idina Menzel all over again. Tracy Morgan made his way onto the stage in the Rainbow Room to present the award for best original score, which went to Soul. But when Morgan pronounced Soul, it sounded like he said “Sal.” He realized it right away, but the winners had already begun their speech, so it became a running joke during the remainder of the show. After Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross and Jon Batiste finished their acceptance speech, the men nominated for best actor in a comedy series (Don Cheadle, Nicholas Hoult, Eugene Levy, Jason Sudeikis and Ramy Youssef) were up next, and they obviously joked about it.
“Don’t get nervous!” Levy said.
“Is it Sal who won Soul?” Cheadle joked. “Who won?”
“Soul’s Pizzeria!” Sudeikis added. “Soul’s Pizzeria!” The actor donned a tie-dye sweater and went on to accept the award for his role in Ted Lasso.
Co-host Tina Fey also got in on the action, saying Morgan was being a real “beautiful sawel.”
Morgan later tweeted, “Sorry SOUL. I was thinking about the pizza I was going to get from my guy SAL on the way home!!”
Soul co-director Kemp Powers, who appeared in the acceptance speech for best animated feature film via iPad, took “Sal” and ran with it, too. He tweeted, “Speechless. Congrats to our entire #PixarSoul team for tonight’s Golden Globe win! And congrats to @JonBatiste @trent_reznor #atticusross for your much-deserved win for best score! Your music is a huge part of what makes SAL so special!”
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Melvin Van Peebles