Golden Globes: 'Nomadland's' Double Wins Put It in Driver's Seat This Awards Season

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Courtesy of NBC

The film's Chloe Zhao became only the second woman ever to win the best director award, joining Barbra Streisand in the elite club. 'Borat' marked Amazon's first best picture win as a studio.

At a surreal 78th Golden Globe Awards, Searchlight's Nomadland drove home with the top two honors, landing the best motion picture drama award and best director prize for Chloe Zhao.

The wins put the film, a modern-day odyssey of the dispossessed surviving on the edges of the American dream, in the driver's seat as it continues to dominate this awards season.

In accepting the best picture award, Zhao called the film "a pilgrimage through grief and healing. She added, "For everyone who has gone through that at some point, this is for you. See you down the road." Zhao also became only the second woman ever to win the director award. (Barbra Streisand is the other for Yentl.)

In a year in which Americans remained largely homebound due to the coronavirus pandemic, the streamers were expected to dominate. But the results were far from lopsided. Of the 14 film categories, the streamers won eight Golden Globes (Netflix 5, Amazon 2 and Hulu 1), while the traditional theatrical distributors took home six statues (Searchlight 2, Pixar 2, A 24, Warner Bros. 1).

Daniel Kaluuya took home the first film award of the night as the Hollywood Foreign Press Association handed out its annual honors. The British actor accepted the award from his home given that the pandemic has scuttled most Hollywood in-person events for nearly a year now.

Last year's supporting actress winner Laura Dern presented Kaluuya with the award for his portrayal of Fred Hampton, chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party in late-1960s Chicago, in Judas and the Black Messiah. Upon winning, Kaluuya's audio cut out but remained visible, with Dern citing a "bad connection." But as transition music played, the actor chimed in and thanked the HFPA and his director, Shaka King, for the Warner Bros. film that opened in theaters and streamed on HBO Max simultaneously.

The NBC broadcast, hosted by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler in a first-ever bicoastal telecast from New York's Rainbow Room and the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, kicked off with a giant Zoom shot of nominees in miniature boxes. Absent was the annual parade of stars sashaying down the red carpet and booze-filled dinner tables surrounded by the night's nominees. In its place were casual living room settings, where dogs and children shared the screen with celebrities. Jason Sudeikis wore a hoodie, prompting a joke from Fey about his Globes look. Kaluuya toasted his fellow nominees with a drink from his couch.

Heading into the night, female directors had already made history with three women nominated in the helming category: Nomadland's Chloe Zhao, Promising Young Woman's Emerald Fennell and One Night in Miami's Regina King. Zhao prevailed, taking home the latest prize of many for her and the film this awards season.

Among the other big winners, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm was named best picture musical or comedy, beating out Hamilton, Music, Palm Springs and The Prom. It also marked Amazon's first best picture win as a studio. The film's Sacha Baron Cohen thanked "the all-white Hollywood Press" as well as one of the film's targets, Rudy Giuliani. Moments later, he picked up the best actor in a musical or comedy prize.

"These nominations and wins are a true testament that authentic and daring stories have the power to break through the noise," said Jennifer Salke, head of Amazon Studios.

Andra Day pulled off something of an upset, winning the best actress award for Hulu's The United States Vs. Billie Holiday, in which she plays the titular songstress. In doing so, she became the first Black best actress winner in 35 years. (Whoopi Goldberg last pulled off the feat for The Color Purple.)

The night was clouded by controversy, following a Los Angeles Times story that revealed that none of the HFPA's 87 members are Black. That sparked widespread criticism throughout the film and TV industry over the past week, prompting Fey and Poehler to reference the issue multiple times during their opening monologue. "Soul is a beautiful Pixar animated movie where a Black man's soul is knocked out of his body and into a cat. The HFPA responded to this because they have five cat members," Fey joked. After Kaluuya won, Poehler said, "Alright, we fixed it," in an apparent reference to the actor being Black.

Minutes later, Soul won best animated film, joining a long list of Pixar films to take that honor. Soul also picked up a win for best original score, with Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross and Jon Batiste accepting the honor. Reznor joked that it was the first project of his that he was able to show to his kids. Diane Warren, Laura Pausini and Niccolò Agliardi nabbed best original song honor for "Io Sì (Seen)" from the Netflix film The Life Ahead.

In the night's most emotional moment, the late Chadwick Boseman won the best actor in a drama award for Netflix's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. Tears flowed as the actor's widow, Taylor Simone Ledward, accepted the honor on his behalf. "He would thank God. He would thank his parents. He would thank his ancestors for their guidance and their sacrifices," she said of Boseman, who died in August at the age of 43.

Aaron Sorkin, who lost to Zhao in the best director category, didn't end the night empty-handed. He landed the best screenplay award for Netflix's Trial of the Chicago 7, another historical '60s era film about a group of a group of anti–Vietnam War protesters accused of inciting riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

Jodie Foster, who appeared to be in pajamas and with her dog on her lap, accepted the best actress in a supporting role award for The Mauritanian, in which she plays a lawyer representing a Guantanamo Bay detainee. In a testament to her career longevity, Foster was nominated for her first Golden Globe award 44 years ago for Freaky Friday.

As expected, the HFPA addressed its diversity problem early in the telecast. "We recognize we have our own work to do,” HFPA vp Helen Hoehne said. "Just like in film and television, Black representation is vital. We must have Black journalists in our organization."

Added former HFPA president Meher Tatna: "We must also ensure everyone from all underrepresented communities gets a seat at our table, and we are going to make that happen."

A24's Minari had been the subject of another Globes controversy when the acclaimed American film was barred from vying for top dramatic film because its dialogue was less than 50 percent in English. Instead, it competed in the foreign language film, where it won the honor.

Rosamund Pike took home best actress in a motion picture musical or comedy for the dark satire I Care a Lot. The British actress, who plays a ruthless con artist who targets the elderly, thanked "America's broken legal system for making stories like this possible."

In a typical year, winners and nominees would hop from party to party at the Hilton, with their trophies in hand. But in this strange year, most were simply moving from the living room to the bedroom.

"I’ve given up drinking for Lent, so there will be no champagne until the 4th of April," said Pike after the telecast. "Which is a shame because it would be nice, I’ll admit, to toast [the win]."