Golden Globes: Female-Led Films Dominate as 'Three Billboards' and 'Lady Bird' Win Top Prizes

On the TV side, it was a similar story as 'Big Little Lies,' 'The Handmaid's Tale' and 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' were crowned.

In an evening during which sober-minded consciousness-raising replaced the traditional loosey-goosey wackiness that has usually characterized the Golden Globe Awards, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association — whether by design or mere coincidence — on Sunday celebrated what in a bygone era what might have been called “women’s pictures.”

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, the tale of a mother seeking justice for the rape and murder of her daughter, was named best drama, while Lady Bird, the account of a young girl’s senior year in high school as she looks to break out of her surroundings, won the top comedy film honor. The HFPA also endorsed such femme-centric TV programs as Big Little Lies, The Handmaid’s Tale and newcomer The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

Fox Searchlight’s Three Billboards dominated the film awards, capturing four trophies, including ones for drama actress Frances McDormand, supporting actor Sam Rockwell and writer-director Martin McDonagh, who took home the screenplay award. “I keep my politics private, but it was really great to be in this room tonight," McDormand said in her acceptance, referencing the general spirit that had overtaken the ballroom at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, from which the show was broadcast by NBC.

It had begun with host Seth Meyers, acknowledging Hollywood’s heightened concern about gender inequality and sexual harassment as well as the surrounding #MeToo movement, from his very first opening line: “Good evening, ladies and remaining gentlemen.” He went on to joke, “For the male nominees, this is the first time in three months it won’t be terrifying to hear your name read out.”

It carried on through Oprah Winfrey’s barn-burner of a speech as she accepted the HFPA’s Cecil B. DeMille Award, in which she said, “For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dared to speak their truth to the power of those men. But” — and as she raised her voice, the room erupting in an emotional, standing ovation — “their time is up!”

Barbra Streisand, appearing onstage as the final presenter to announce the best drama winner, echoed that sentiment, saying, “Folks, time’s up! We need more women directors and more women nominated for best director,” and she went on to add, “I’m proud to stand in a room for people who speak out against gender inequality, sexual harassment and the pettiness that has poisoned our politics.”

Accepting for Lady Bird, her autobiographical coming-of-age tale, writer-director Greta Gerwig acknowledged her hometown which figures in the movie, giving a shout-out “to the people of Sacramento, who gave me roots and wings.” And beyond a litany of excited thank-yous, Saoirse Ronan, the film’s star, who was hailed as best actress in a comedy, spoke to the spirit of the evening by testifying “how inspirational it’s been to be in this room tonight.”

Veteran actor Gary Oldman earned the award for best dramatic actor, the first Globe of his career, for his performance as Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour. If the movie has a moral, he suggested, it’s that “words and actions can change the world, and boy, oh boy, does it need some changing.”

While Three Billboards took top honors, Guillermo del Toro was singled out as best director for The Shape of Water, his romantic, creature-feature fable. Testifying that his fascination with monsters had saved his life, he said, “I thank you, my monsters thank you, and somewhere [horror movie actor] Lon Chaney is smiling on all of us.” While Shape of Water entered the evening with a leading seven nominations, it took home just two trophies, including one for Alexandre Desplat’s score.

James Franco, who was hailed as best actor in a comedy for playing real-life, would-be auteur Tommy Wiseau in The Disaster Artist, invited Wiseau himself up onstage to share the moment with him, fulfilling a lifelong dream for the director of The Room, which has earned a reputation as the worst movie of all time.

Allison Janney received the Golden Globe for best supporting actress for her performance as a terrifying stage mother in I, Tonya, and took a moment to point out another real-life person in the room, skater Tonya Harding, thanking her “for sharing her story … a story about class in America, a story about the disenfranchised.”

Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, the award-winning lyricists of La La Land, took home the prize for best original song for their anthem “This Is Me” from the P.T. Barnum musical The Greatest Showman, with Pasek offering a "thank you to audiences who are coming to see musicals on the big screen again."

Accepting the award for best foreign language film, German director Fatih Akin brought that movie’s star Diane Kruger up onstage with him, saying that he shared the award with her.

And when Pixar’s Coco was announced as best animated feature, director Lee Unkrich offered a shout-out “to the incredible people of Mexico and their beautiful traditions.”

On the television side, the HFPA gave its stamp of approval to a number of recent Emmy winners, including best drama series The Handmaid’s Tale, from Hulu and MGM, and best limited series, HBO’s Big Little Lies. Accepting for Lies, Reese Witherspoon, who both acted in and served as an executive producer of the series, tied into the evening’s themes by saying, “I want to thank everyone who broke their silence this year,” adding, “Time is up — we see you, hear you and we will tell your stories.”

Elisabeth Moss, repeating her Emmy win as best TV dramatic actress for her performance as an indentured servant on Hulu/MGM’s The Handmaid’s Tale, borrowed words from novelist Margaret Atwood to say women now “are the stories in print and we are writing the stories ourselves.”

Also repeating her recent Emmy win — as best actress in a limited series for playing an abused wife on Big Little Lies — Nicole Kidman acknowledged her mother, an advocate for the woman’s rights, saying, “My achievements are your achievements,” and, also picking up on one of the evening’s themes, said of the series’ exploration of marital abuse, “I do believe and I hope we can elicit change through the stories we tell and the way we tell them.” Later in the evening, she was followed to the stage by Alexander Skarsgard, who picked up a supporting actor award, as he did at the Emmys, for playing her character’s abusive husband.

Sterling K. Brown also added a Globe to his Emmy for playing the grown-up adopted son on NBC’s This Is Us. He testified that while he’d often benefited from color-blind casting, it was especially gratifying to play a role written for a black man: “I appreciate so much I am being seen for who I am and appreciated for who I am.”

The HFPA voters, who often like to celebrate the new, elevated Amazon’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel by naming it best comedy series and rewarding Rachel Brosnahan as best actress in a TV comedy for playing an aspiring stand-up comic on the 1950s-set series.

Ewan McGregor was honored as best drama actor for playing the dual role of dueling brothers on FX/MGM’s Fargo, while Aziz Ansari claimed his first Globe, for best comedy actor, for his Netflix series Master of None, which he co-created.

Although it got somewhat lost amid the glitter of the awards themselves, the HFPA also used the occasion to issue a release announcing $2 million in grants to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and to the Committee To Protect Journalists — $1 million to each organization. It is the first time a donation announcement has been made during the live telecast.

With six awards spread between Three Billboards and Shape of Water, Fox Searchlight triumphed on the film side, while HBO, with its four Big Little Lies wins, led on the TV side.

“We HFPA journalists are committed to supporting humanitarian organizations, film restoration and film education,” said president Meher Tatna. “To date, we have granted over $30 million to those causes. And being an association of journalists, we are keenly aware of its importance, especially today.”

The Golden Globe Awards show was produced by Dick Clark Productions, which shares a parent company with The Hollywood Reporter