This year’s Golden Globes were an uneven affair. They began with a muted Daniel Kaluuya and Laura Dern apologising for a malfunctioning Zoom link, and became progressively more chaotic as the night went on.
Few would have expected any different. The Globes are strange and nonsensical in a normal year, but throw in a pandemic and newfound controversy about the wall-to-wall white people voting for these awards, and this was even odder than usual.
There were highlights, though: from an impassioned winner’s speech from Kaluuya (once he took himself off mute) to the speedy energy that made the show zip past in a flash.
We’ve rounded off the eight key talking points from a night like few others.
Read more: The full list of 2021 Golden Globes winners
The diversity row was tackled head on
In recent weeks, it was revealed that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), the voting organisation that decides the ceremony’s winners and nominees, didn’t have a single Black member. This was, rightly, at the forefront of many people’s minds.
Hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler were the first to take aim in a damning (and entertaining) fashion. Throughout the ceremony, several others urged the organisation to do better in their own small way, the most impressive being Sterling K Brown. Gracing the stage to present an award, he exclaimed: “It is great to be Black at the Golden Globes.” With a grin, he jokingly corrected himself, saying: “It is great to be back at the Golden Globes.”
But Fey and Poehler otherwise fell flat
Whether it was because of their geographic distance (one was in Los Angeles, the other in New York) or a lack of real comic potential in this year’s nominees, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler had more misses than hits as the night’s hosts. No jokes bombed exactly, but there were no juggernaut zingers as in their previous years. Even the easiest targets of the night (Emily in Paris, Sia, James Corden) left relatively unscathed.
Chadwick Boseman’s posthumous win
The most emotional moment of the evening came after Chadwick Boseman posthumously won Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. His wife, Taylor Simone Ledward, delivered a powerful speech on the late actor’s behalf, fighting back tears while doing so.
It was a fitting tribute to a man who inspired audiences around the world in many ways, perhaps most notably via his role as a Black superhero in Marvel’s Black Panther. “He would thank God. He would thank his parents. He would thank his ancestors for their guidance and their sacrifices,” Ledward said.
All hail Chloé Zhao
If Nomadland director Chloé Zhao hadn’t already established herself as the most laidback person working in film, this ceremony did precisely that.
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Where many other nominees – some of whom, quite frankly, didn’t stand a chance of winning – were surrounded by an entourage of people, Zhao was logged onto Zoom while sat alone in a darkened room with nothing but a mug of tea for company. Pretty humble, given she is the second woman in 78 years to win a Golden Globe for directing.
Mark Ruffalo, the family man
If there’s one thing better than Mark Ruffalo winning awards, it’s Mark Ruffalo delivering speeches at awards ceremonies. This one, for his dual role as twins in I Know This Much Is True, was made even sweeter due to the fact he was surrounded by his wife and kids, who gatecrashed the whole thing.
In a ceremony that was thankfully low on mentions of Donald Trump, Ruffalo provided one small one after hinting at the end of his presidency. “The godly light of decency is breaking through the hideous dark storm we’ve been living through,” he said.
The Crown smashed it
The four big wins for The Crown seemed to confirm its most recent season as a particularly special run of television. The Netflix hit has been a Golden Globe staple for all three of its previous seasons, but none has been so awarded as this one. It was also nice to see the show spotlighting Emma Corrin (who played Princess Diana) and Josh O’Connor (Prince Charles), both of whom made The Crown season four so compelling.
Jane Fonda is the very best of us
For a ceremony awash in technical gaffes and far too many beautiful people looking confused over Zoom, there was something blissfully relaxing about the presence of Jane Fonda. As this year’s recipient of the Cecile B DeMille lifetime achievement award, Fonda brought the house down with a subtle and stirring speech about the power of art. An earlier montage celebrating Fonda’s incredible life so far, that bounced between fluffy Fifties comedies and radical protest to provocative Seventies dramas and lycra-clad aerobics in the Eighties, was the highlight of the evening.
Sacha Baron Cohen remains a national treasure
The Borat star is so good at being himself that it’s bizarre he’s spent so much of his career pretending to be other people. Out of character, and often supported by his incredibly patient wife Isla Fisher, he is deadpan and cutting, and was reliably compelling at tonight’s Globes. Supplying more or less back-to-back acceptance speeches at the very end of the ceremony, Cohen struck a powerful note of joyous silliness mixed with world-weary anger – and just the right amount of Rudy Giuliani jokes.
See the full list of Golden Globe award winners here.
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