Despite receiving critical acclaim for movies like Beetlejuice (1988) and Batman (1992), Birdman marks Keaton’s first Golden Globe win in any category, although he was previously nominated for his role in Live From Baghdad in 2002.
Keaton faced tough competition from a slew of accomplished actors, including Ralph Fiennes (The Grand Budapest Hotel), Bill Murray (St. Vincent), Christoph Waltz (Big Eyes) and Joaquin Phoenix (Inherent Vice), but ultimately satisfied the predictions of most Hollywood pundits.
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Keaton began his acceptance speech by thanking Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu for “letting me be part of this unbelievably gutsy, unapologetic look at human nature,” and letting him know that all the actors in the room would work with him at the drop of a hat. Then he made sure to acknowledge his parents and six siblings who raised him to “work hard, don’t quit, be appreciative, be thankful … also to never whine ever, never complain — and always for crying out loud, keep a sense of humor.” As he began to run short on time, he thanked his friends all around the world and got emotional when describing his best friend, whom he revealed to be his son, Sean. These unexpected tears forced him to come to terms with “two things I said I wasn’t going to do: cry and give air quotes. Damn,” he said.
Birdman, which was nominated for a total of seven Golden Globes, will offer Keaton the chance at two additional awards at the 21st annual SAG Awards Jan. 25 (he’s nominated for lead and as part of the ensemble) and put him in position for his first-ever academy award nomination.