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The film is based on the real-life friendship between Italian-American driver-turned-actor Tony “Lip” Vallelonga and Dr. Don Shirley, the African-American musician he drove through the deep South on a concert tour in 1962.
Green Book went into the night with five nominations and won for best screenplay and supporting actor in a musical or comedy (Mahershala Ali).
The movie beat out fellow nominees Crazy Rich Asians, The Favourite, Mary Poppins Returns and Vice.
In his acceptance speech, writer-director Peter Farrelly thanked the film’s cast and crew and his family as well as production companies Participant and DreamWorks and distributor Universal.
Farrelly accepted the award from presenter Bill Murray, who said the award was one of two great things about the Globes — the other being the fact that alcohol is served to those in attendance.
Before revealing the winner, Murray said, “I have a lot of friends in this category; I hope this will deepen our friendship.”
Pushing past the music that’s designed to play the winners offstage, Farrelly spoke at length about what he feels the message of the movie is.
“Don Shirley was a great man and underappreciated,” the filmmaker said, in part, of one of the movie’s real-life inspirations. “He couldn’t play the music he wanted to play simply because of the color of his skin. Yet he went on to create his own genre of music; it sounds so beautiful that it still resonates today. Tony Vallelonga came from an immigrant family in the Bronx and from a culture didn’t value diversity or individuality, yet during that trip with Don Shirley, he grew and evolved more than most families do over several generations. This story, when I heard it, gave me hope, and I wanted to share that hope with you, because we’re still living in divided times, maybe more so than ever.
“And that’s what this movie is for. It’s for everybody. If Don Shirley and Tony Vallelonga can find common ground, we all can,” Farrelly continued. “All we have to do is talk and to not judge people by their differences, but look for what we have in common and we have a lot in common. We all want the same thing. We want love; we want happiness; we all want to be treated equally, and that’s not such a bad thing. Thank you very much. I appreciate it.”
Backstage, star Viggo Mortensen said of the film’s modern-day relevance, “Discrimination will never go away. That is a bummer to say that or even think that, but it is the job of every generation to be less ignorant and to beat ignorance with experience. You can look at that as depressing or you can look at it as a challenge. When people say that society right now has a lot of antagonism — everybody’s in their corners, nobody is listening, everyone’s yelling — so it is perfect time for a movie like this. But any time for any generation, when a movie that is this well made about a timeless issue, will always be a good time.”
After the ceremony, Murray joined the cast and crew of Green Book at The Hollywood Reporter and Twitter’s official live aftershow. There, he praised the movie and showered its stars with tequila.
“I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t go to this film on opening weekend, where you get 90 percent of the take if you’re the home team. I saw it on a screener because I was desperate. … And I went, ‘Oh, my God.’ From the very beginning, the very first frames were so beautiful. I thought, ‘What the hell? Is this Peter doing this?’ Every frame was so beautiful. The photography was so beautiful. The set design was so beautiful … the writing was so great and so succinct,” Murray said of the film, noting that he particularly loved Green Book actress Linda Cardellini’s question of whether someone can be a doctor of piano playing. “I thought, ‘Oh, we’re going places with this movie.’ And then it just kept coming. It really did keep coming. The writing never let me down, never let you down. It kept you elevated all the time. You talk about the word ‘hope’ and you keep hoping that it’s not going to let you down, and it doesn’t let you down.”
Murray then tapped his chalice against the foreheads of stars Mortensen, Cardellini and Ali, dumping some of the tequila inside on their heads.
Jan. 7, 6:13 p.m. This story has been updated with additional comments from Murray during the aftershow.
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