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Ricky Gervais may have declared Netflix to have overtaken cinema in his opening monologue at Sunday’s Golden Globes ceremony, but the streamer received the biggest snub of the night, landing only one win from 17 nominations in the film categories as the Hollywood Foreign Press Association honored theatrical films.
Universal’s World War I epic 1917 edged out Warner Bros.’ Joker and Netflix’s The Irishman, Marriage Story and The Two Popes for best drama, a major boost for the film in the Oscars race.
“This is a huge thing for this movie, it opens wide in a week. I really hope this means people will turn up and see it on a big screen, for which it was intended,” 1917 director and co-writer Sam Mendes said onstage. The film was shot to appear as one continuous take that follows two soldiers on a deadly mission against time across the frontlines of war and has been praised for its cinematic feat, especially cinematographer Roger Deakins’ effortless work.
Ever since Netflix entered the film space, it has sparked a passionate discussion over the state of theatrical releases and whether a movie debuting on the small screen should be considered cinema. While the streaming giant has made sure to release all of its awards contenders in theaters with a three- to four-week window before they debut online, partly to qualify for awards, it also doesn’t release traditional box office figures or viewership data of its films.
Just last year, Steven Spielberg led the charge amongst the membership board of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences to debate whether the theatrical window to qualify for Oscars should be extended, although that could significantly harm the chances for smaller independent films. At Sunday’s Globes, Mendes’ noted mention of the “big screen” played through the other major winners of the night as the HFPA took its stand in the debate, choosing to favor the theatrical release.
The night got off to a searing start as host Gervais — back for the fifth time, once again with a beer in hand and lobbying barbs with little care for the star-studded room — took aim at Cats with some expletive-filled jokes and took shots at the streaming takeover of Hollywood: “No one cares about movies anymore. No one goes to cinema, no one really watches network TV. Everyone is watching Netflix.” He also managed to both praise The Irishman and tease the stature of Martin Scorsese and Joe Pesci at the same time.
In the best comedy/musical picture race, it was Sony Pictures’ nostalgic reverie Once Upon a Time in Hollywood that beat out Fox’s Jojo Rabbit, Lionsgate’s Knives Out, Paramount’s Rocketman and Netflix’s Dolemite Is My Name. The film did a mini-sweep with three overall awards as Sony led the film studios in wins.
Once Upon a Time‘s writer-director Quentin Tarantino, who is known to revere the cinematic experience in theaters over streaming, also emerged victorious in a stacked screenplay category that saw Marriage Story‘s Noah Baumbach, The Two Popes‘ Anthony McCarten, The Irishman‘s Steve Zaillian and Parasite‘s Bong Joon Ho and Han Jin Won nominated.
“I can’t believe I won over Steve Zaillian,” Tarantino said onstage. “When you write it by yourself, you kind of don’t have anybody to thank. I did it, but this time, more than usually most, I had a fantastic cast … that took it from the page and took it to a slightly different layer.”
The Irishman turned out to be the biggest loser of the night, walking away empty-handed after losing out on five nominations. The winners, however, received a prominent stage and spotlight in the crucial Oscar nominations voting window, which closes Tuesday.
All six acting winners were spread across different films. Joaquin Phoenix was named best drama actor for Joker, prevailing over Christian Bale, Antonio Banderas, Adam Driver and Jonathan Pryce. He used a long and rambling speech to thank his fellow nominees for “the beautiful, mesmerizing, unique work that you’ve all done this year, and I know people say this, but I really do feel honored to be mentioned alongside you.”
In the best drama actress category, Renée Zellweger bested Scarlett Johansson, Saoirse Ronan, Charlize Theron and Cynthia Erivo for her work as Judy Garland in Judy. Zellweger said she enjoyed “celebrating one of the great icons of our lifetime” during her acceptance speech.
In the best supporting actor category that featured film veterans Pesci, Al Pacino, Tom Hanks, Anthony Hopkins and Brad Pitt, it was the younger Pitt who was awarded the accolade for his role as stuntman Cliff Booth in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. The star thanked the eclectic and ever-raucous” HFPA and said the other nominees were “like gods to me — this is an honor to me and all my respect, sincerely.” Pitt then turned his attention to his co-star and “brother in crime, LDC [Leonardo DiCaprio],” saying “Before The Revenant, I used to watch year after year his co-stars accept awards, get up and thank him profusely. I know why, he’s an all-star, he’s a gent, and I wouldn’t be here without you.” Pitt then quipped, “I would’ve shared the raft,” much to the pleasure of Titanic fans.
Laura Dern outpaced frontrunner Jennifer Lopez to win best supporting actress honors, giving her an edge in the Oscars race for her role as a tenacious lawyer in Marriage Story. “We [actors] long to be of service to give voice to the voiceless, and thanks to the brilliant Noah Baumbach, I got to do just that — I got to give voice, to pay tribute, to the divorce lawyer,” the actress said to laughs during her acceptance speech. She also praised the themes of the film, saying that while it was centered on a couple and their child as they weathered a crumbling relationship, there’s a “global look that Noah takes at what divisiveness is and how we must come together as one for the sake of something greater — perhaps the planet, even.”
The HFPA served up some surprises, as it is known to do, such as with Rami Malek winning best drama actor last year for Bohemian Rhapsody, a boost that saw him eventually win the Oscar. This year, it was Taron Egerton who received that gilded boost, edging out DiCaprio, Daniel Craig, Eddie Murphy and newcomer Roman Griffin Davis in the best comedy/musical actor race for his role as Elton John in Rocketman.
“I’m so honored to be nominated alongside a bunch of legitimate icons and also Roman, who is the sweetest kid and incredible in Jojo Rabbit,” Egerton said. The 30-year-old Brit said the movie “changed my life, it was the best experience of my life,” and also thanked John for “the music, thank you for living life less extraordinary, thank you for being my friend.”
John and longtime collaborator Bernie Taupin also won for best original song for Rocketman‘s “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again.”
The Farewell star Awkwafina became the first actress of Asian descent to win the best comedy/musical actress Globe, beating out Cate Blanchett, Ana de Armas, Beanie Feldstein and Emma Thompson. She was visibly flustered as she went up onstage.
“This is great. If I fall upon hard times, I can sell this,” Awkwafina quipped, holding her stautuette. She thanked the filmmakers of the movie, adding a shout-out to Lulu Wang: “Our incredible director, you gave me this chance, the chance of a lifetime, you taught me so much and just filming this story and being with you was incredible.”
Wang was one of the notable snubs in the screenplay and directing categories that only nominated men this year.
In the tight race for (once again, all-male) best director that saw Parasite‘s Bong, 1917‘s Mendes, Joker‘s Todd Phillips, The Irishman‘s Scorsese and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood‘s Tarantino, it was Mendes that won for his epic World War I drama.
“There is not one director in this room — in the world — that is not in the shadow of Martin Scorsese,” Mendes said onstage.
Parasite — the underdog Korean pic from Neon that has been building momentum through this year’s awards season — took home the best foreign language film Globe, with director Bong once again making a pointed acceptance speech through his translator about the power of cinema.
“Once you overcome the one-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you’ll be introduced to so many more amazing films,” he said, cheek intended, through his translator. As he thanked his fellow nominees, Bong signed off by saying, “I think we only use one language — cinema.”
Dick Clark Productions, which produces the Golden Globes, shares a parent company with The Hollywood Reporter.
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