“1917,” Sam Mendes’ World War I drama, pulled an upset at Sunday night’s Golden Globes to win best dramatic motion picture, trouncing several acclaimed Netflix productions, including Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman” and Noah Baumbach’s “Marriage Story,” both of which went into the Globes with more nominations. The win upheld the Globes’ reputation for mercurial choices and gave a big boost to DreamWorks-Universal's “1917” just a week before Oscar nominations are announced, on Jan. 13.
Mendes took a not-so-subtle swipe at Netflix in his acceptance speech, saying, “I hope this means people will turn up to see this movie on the big screen, for which it was intended.”
The streaming service has been producing high-caliber films and releasing them into theaters in the hopes of winning awards-season statuettes. It has yet to win either of the most coveted awards — the best picture Oscar or its closest equivalent at the Globes, best dramatic film. On Sunday, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which hands out the Globes, did its part to keep things that way.
Netflix went into the Globes as a nominations leader — 17 in all, including the television categories — and dominated the dramatic picture category with three of the five nominated titles, including “The Two Popes.” But it was Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood” that scored highest at the Globes. That Sony-Columbia film picked up three awards, including best musical or comedy and best supporting actor for Brad Pitt, who plays a washed-up stunt double. “Joker,” a Warner Bros. production by Dix Hills director Todd Phillips, overcame polarizing reviews and racially-charged controversy to take home two awards, including best actor for Joaquín Phoenix, who gave a heartfelt albeit obscenity-laden speech.
All told, the Globes provided another loosey-goosey warm-up to the Oscars with a mix of flippant speeches, political grandstanding and mutual appreciation. Tom Hanks, suffering from a cold, choked up while thanking his family while accepting his Cecil B. DeMille lifetime achievement award. Tarantino bragged that when you win a screenplay award, “You kind of don’t have anyone to thank. I did it!” Patricia Arquette, winning best supporting actress for the limited TV series “The Act,” implored people to vote in the 2020 presidential election.
Meanwhile, Queens-raised Awkwafina (real name: Nora Lum) made Golden Globes history by becoming the first woman of Asian descent to win best actress in a musical or comedy (“The Farewell”), and South Korea received its first Globe for best foreign language film, which went to Bong Joon Ho’s “Parasite.” That off-kilter thriller-satire has become an art-house hit and a possible contender at the Oscars.
“When you overcome the one-inch barrier of subtitles,” Bong said through an interpreter, “you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.”
GERVAIS' GIBES. “Remember, they’re just jokes,” the famously offensive host Ricky Gervais advised his movie-star audience in his expletive-laden opening monologue. “We’re all gonna die soon, and there’s no sequel.” He immediately started poking at celebrities, starting with the college admissions scandal. “I came here in a limo,” Gervais said, “and the license plate was made by Felicity Huffman.” Gervais returned this year for the first time since 2016 to host the Golden Globes.
BEST NO-SHOW EXCUSE. Jennifer Aniston, presenting the best actor award in a limited series to Russell Crowe for “The Loudest Voice,” read a statement explaining that he was “at home protecting his family from the bush fires in Australia.” Crowe's statement also included an impassioned plea for awareness of the problem, calling the fires “climate change-based.”
LIVING OUT LOUD. Ellen Degeneres accepted the Carol Burnett Award for her groundbreaking career in television as a gay woman and peppered her speech with punchlines. “I am an open book,” she told the audience. “And I could not have done it without my husband, Mark.” That line got big laughs from the audience, including her wife, actress Portia de Rossi. DeGeneres and de Rossi have no children, but DeGeneres talked to a couple anyway, looking at the camera and saying, “Rupert and Fiona go to bed.”
WILLIAMS GETS PASSIONATE. Michelle Williams spoke out for women and abortion rights during her acceptance speech for best actress in a limited series or movie made for TV (she played Gwen Verdon in "Fosse/Verdon"). She said she could not have had her career without employing “a woman’s right to choose. To choose when to have my children, and with whom.”
“When it’s time to vote, please do so in your own self-interest,” she said later in her speech. It’s what men have been doing for years.”