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At the topsy-turvy 76th Golden Globe Awards, Bohemian Rhapsody, the saga about Freddie Mercury and the rock band Queen, which could have easily been categorized as a comedy/musical, was named the year’s best motion picture drama, while Green Book, the account of a true-life road trip through the Jim Crow South, that could have arguably competed for best drama, was crowned best comedy or musical.
The NBC broadcast, hosted by Andy Samberg and Sandra Oh from the Beverly Hilton Hotel, started out by carefully attempting to sidestep any jokes that anyone could deem offensive as it instead celebrated diversity. The ceremony then ended up pulling a few surprises out its hat as the always unpredictable Hollywood Foreign Press Association voters lived up to their quirky reputation.
“That was unexpected,” producer Graham King himself admitted while accepting the award for Fox’s Bohemian Rapsody, which managed to defeat such highly touted contenders as A Star Is Born and Black Panther. Joined onstage by Queen band members Brian May and Roger Taylor, he continued, “The power of movies is that it brings us all together — Freddie Mercury and Queen did that so successfully by their music.” Just moments earlier, Rami Malek earned the first Golden Globe of his career for his performance as Mercury. “Thank you, Freddie Mercury, for giving me the joy of a lifetime,” he proclaimed.
If there was an elephant in the room — as Samberg and Oh had promised there would be in promos for the show produced by Dick Clark Productions — it was Bryan Singer, the credited director of the film, who was fired from the production because of his absences from the set. His name was conspicuously not mentioned among all those whom both King and Malik chose to thank.
Responding to Green Book’s story of how two men, from across a racial divide, achieve mutual respect, the HFPA bestowed its prize for best comedy/musical on the Universal film. Claiming three trophies, Green Book was the night’s biggest winner. Daring the orchestra to play him off, writer-director Peter Farrelly paid tribute to pianist Dr. Don Shirley, played by Mahershala Ali in the film, calling him “a great man and an underappreciated genius who couldn’t play the music he wanted to play simply because of the color of his skin,” and Tony Vallelonga, played by Viggo Mortensen, “who grew and evolved” as he chauffeured Shirley through sometimes-dangerous terrain. “This story when I heard it gave me hope, and I wanted to share that hope with you,” Farrelly added.
Ali was awarded the prize for best supporting actor, and he praised the late Shirley “for the dignity with which he carried himself every day.” The film, written by Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie and Farrelly, also earned best screenplay honors. Vallelonga, who based the film on his late father’s stories about that fateful driving assignment, said, “My father, he blessed us with this story. I can’t thank you enough. This is very surreal.”
Glenn Close, after 45 years as an actress, won her first Globe for film work for her performance as a woman who’s sublimated her life to that of her famous novelist husband in the drama The Wife. On her way to the stage, she received a kiss from her Fatal Attraction co-star Michael Douglas and stopped momentarily to receive congratulations from Lady Gaga, who’d also been nominated in the category. Starting to choke up, Close recalled how her mother had similarly sublimated her life to that of Close’s father, saying, in her 80s, “I feel I really haven’t accomplished anything.” Turning to the women in the audience, Close said, “We have to find personal fulfillment, we have to follow our dreams, we have to say, ‘I can do that,’ and we should be allowed to do that.”
The shape-shifting Christian Bale — who won a previous Globe as supporting actor in 2010’s The Fighter —was named best actor in a comedy/musical for playing Vice President Dick Cheney in Vice. In his exuberant acceptance, he insisted that director Adam McKay turned to him because he was looking for somebody who could be “absolutely charisma-free and vile,” he threatened that the two of them would next take on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and he thanked “Satan for giving me inspiration for how to play this role.”
The award for best actress in a comedy/musical went to The Favourite’s Olivia Colman for her portrayal of the dyspeptic Queen Anne. “Blimey, thank you so much,” the British actress exclaimed. “I’m not going to cry because my entire table will point and laugh at me.” Recognizing her co-stars Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone — “my bitches!” she joked — she added, “Every second of working with you girls was such a joy.”
Alfonso Cuaron, who won the best director Globe in 2014 for Gravity, collected his second Globe for directing for Roma and credited Netflix for bringing the film to a worldwide audience. Since the dialogue in Roma is not in English, it wasn’t eligible for the Globes’ best drama prize, but it scored in the foreign-language film category. Accepting for the film, which drew upon memories of his own childhood in Mexico City, Cuaron began by saying “cinema at its best tears down walls and builds bridges” and concluded by speaking in Spanish, thanking both his family and Mexico.
Regina King earned her first Golden Globe, as best supporting actress, for playing a supportive mom in If Beale Street Could Talk, director Barry Jenkins’ adaptation of the James Baldwin novel. “I love you with all of my heart,” she said to Jenkins. “Thank you for your empathy, thank you for telling stories so rich, and thank you for giving us a film that when my son saw it he said it’s the first time he’s seen himself on film.” And then, before surrendering the mic, she promised that anything she produces over the next two years will include 50 percent women, challenging “anyone out there who is in a position of power, not just in our industry but all industries” to do the same.
A Star Is Born picked up its only Globe of the night when Lady Gaga visited the stage early in the evening to accept the award for her tune “Shallow,” which she wrote with Mark Ronson, Anthony Rossomando and Andrew Wyatt. Speaking directly to Gaga, Ronson said, “The genius comes from you,” while she in turn thanked her collaborators for lifting her up and supporting her since “as a woman in music, it is really hard to be taken seriously as a musician and a songwriter.”
With the principal castmembers from Black Panther on hand to present the award for best animated feature, the prize went to another exemplar of onscreen diversity — Sony’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, which beat out heavyweight contenders like Pixar’s Incredibles 2 and Disney Animation’s Ralph Breaks the Internet. The movie itself is built around a new Spider-Man from an alternate universe, the half-Latino, half-African-American Miles Morales. Peter Ramsey, one of the movie’s three directors, said, “We were trying to make a movie that spoke to the idea that anybody could be behind the mask.”
Justin Hurwitz, who won two previous Globes —for his La La Land score and one of that film’s songs — was handed another for his work on Damien Chazelle’s foray into space, First Man, and he thanked Chazelle, “who is brilliant and loyal and touches every detail of our work.”
Chris Pine presented the evening’s film career honor, the annual Cecil B. DeMille Award, to veteran actor Jeff Bridges. Sam Elliott, who narrated the accompanying package of video clips, said of Bridges’ career, “sometimes making it look easy can be mighty hard work.” In accepting, Bridges checked off a number of the directors with whom he’s worked — The Last Picture Show’s Peter Bogdanovich, “who kicked the whole party off,” The Big Lebowski’s Coen brothers, The Fabulous Baker Boys’ Steve Kloves, Crazy Heart’s Scott Cooper and Thunderbolt and Lightfoot’s Michael Cimino. He recalled that as Thunderbolt was about to begin filming, he confessed to Cimino that he wasn’t feeling the role, but Cimino said to him, “You know the game of tag? — you’re it.” Bridges proceeded to “tag” the rest of the room, exulting, “We’re alive, we can make a difference, we can turn this ship in the way we want to go, man!”
Among distributors, Universal Pictures could walk away with bragging rights because of its four combined Globe wins for Green Book and First Man. Netflix, thanks to Roma, Annapurna, buoyed by Vice and If Beale Street Could Talk, and Fox, with Bohemian Rhapsody, picked up two Globes each.
Dick Clark Productions, which produces the Golden Globes, is a division of Valence Media, which owns The Hollywood Reporter.
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