Here's to the Golden Globes – what other award show would bring Meryl Streep onstage for a lifetime-achievement tribute and then have the orchestra salute her with Abba's "Mamma Mia"? A perfect moment to sum up everything the Globes stand for: finding the cheese lining in any artistic cloud. That's the saving grace of this dippiest and drunkest of award shows. Nobody cares who wins; all that matters at this TV party is locking the stars up together in the Beverly Hills Hilton, getting them ripped on free booze and waiting for the crazy shit to happen. Donald Glover, a well-deserved winner for Atlanta, claimed his Globe in a fly brown-velvet tux – an outfit that captured the no-fucks vibe of the whole night.
The only star taking the Golden Globes seriously was poor Jimmy Fallon, who treated the host gig like his big chance to atone for his moment of doubt and shame sucking up to Donald Trump on The Tonight Show. He jumped right in with the Trump gags, eager to measure up to hosts like Ricky Gervais, who saved the Globes six years ago by rebooting it as a brutal bitchfest. Or, for that matter, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, who claimed the franchise as their personal fiefdom with the George Clooney-baiting of their glorious three-year reign. But Fallon lacks their killer instinct, so he seemed nervous and off his game. When his teleprompter malfunctioned, it took him until after the ad break to think up a Mariah Carey joke, which was a bad sign. He had some clever lines, calling Manchester by the Sea "the only thing from 2016 that was more depressing than 2016." He impersonated Sting (good one), Chris Rock (ugh) and Cypress Hill (for the love of God, why didn't anyone talk him out of "Chastain in the Redmayne"?). He was more at ease introducing the Carrie Fisher/Debbie Reynolds tribute – a showcase for his trademark hyper-niceness instead of the satirical edge he doesn’t have.
Meryl Streep should have hosted. She had the night's killer moment with her long, fiery, heartfelt and pissed-off speech. She mixed her rage with preppy-mom humor. ("Ryan Gosling, like all the nicest people, is Canadian.") The montage of Meryl highlights made her filmography look a little flashier than it actually is – surprising how such an ambitious performer hasn't made more memorable films – but it had the great scene from The Seduction of Joe Tynan, where she pours champagne on Alan Alda's crotch. She ended with a shout out to the legend she played in Postcards from the Edge: "As my friend, the dear departed Princess Leia, said to me once, 'Take your broken heart and make it into art.'"
Ryan Gosling, looking dapper as ever in a white sports coat and a red carnation, paid a gallant tribute to Eva Mendes ("my lady"), giving your mom goosebumps to last until mid-February. Viola Davis gave an equally superb, grace-note–filled speech; ditto Black-ish's Tracee Ellis Ross. But the only winner dumb enough to get solemn was Tom Hiddleston, who made – let's call it now – the most humiliating speech anyone will give at an award show in 2017. His mind-blowingly pompous pensées were worth it just to inspire hilarious "when does this eeeennnnd" faces from Christian Slater and Vince Vaughn. His Night Manager co-star Hugh Laurie had a wittier touch: "I accept this award on behalf of psychopathic billionaires everywhere." Another surprise Night Manager winner: the ever-delightful Olivia Colman of Peep Show fame. (Now we know!)
Amy Schumer and Goldie Hawn shared a brilliant comic interlude, with Hawn bumbling through the teleprompter blather while Schumer heckled: "Kurt, do you have her glasses?" Sofia Vergara pretended to get the word "annual" confused with "anal." [Sigh] Reese Witherspoon looked incredibly pissed at being forced to stand next to Nicole Kidman. (But not as pissed as Nicole looked on the red carpet when Ryan Seacrest had the gall to talk to Keith Urban first.) It's not clear why Pierce Brosnan showed up, except to ease your mom through post-Gosling withdrawal, though Denzel was already taking care of that job. Tragically, Pierce and Meryl didn't remake their Mamma Mia duet on "S.O.S." Glam goddess Isabelle Huppert won for Elle with director Paul Verhoeven, the Josef Von Sternberg of Nineties erotic thrillers, and she gave a formidable display of how to roll like true movie star – i.e. someone who hears her name mentioned and instinctively leaps to her feet to clap for herself.
Brad Pitt made an all-too-brief appearance to introduce Moonlight. (No reaction shot of Billy Bob Thornton – just an awkward clap from Vince Vaughn.) Mel "Sugar Tits" Gibson was on hand, for no discernible reason except to provide Vince with another glum white-man mug to sulk through Meryl's speech. Jon Hamm and Laura Dern made a remarkably dashing presenter couple. Priyanka Chopra just looked grateful they didn't stick her with Kevin Hart – these days it's a rare treat to get through an award show without Hart sexually harassing anyone. Drew Barrymore presented right after Hugh Grant, which brought back fond memories of their chemistry in the underrated classic Music and Lyrics. (No, really.) Julia Louis-Dreyfus rocked the wheels of steel. In this year's Levon Helm Memorial Beard-Off, Chris Pine was the clear winner, Casey Affleck the loser, and Matt Damon should rethink his Leonardo-as-Colonel Sanders goatee pronto.
The red carpet pre-show had memorable moments, like Evan Rachel Wood explaining her New Romantic white-tie-and-tails look as her homage to Marlene Dietrich, Victor/Victoria and David Bowie ("because it's his birthday"), though with that hair she really evoked ABC's Martin Fry in the "Poison Arrow" video. But the most touching moment was Winona Ryder gushing about her fellow nominee and Heathers schoolmate Christian Slater: "We started out together at 16 years old, or at least I was, and I've just always loved him." Now more than ever, Winona forever. Our love is God – let's go get a slushie.
To present the evening's final award to Moonlight, Sylvester Stallone and Carl Weathers came out to restage their Balboa-vs.-Creed LeRoy Neiman painting from the end of Rocky III. Weathers still looks buff, which means it's high time to open the question: Why is there still no Action Jackson 2? How did the great action-flick franchise of the Eighties get shut down too soon? ("How do you like your ribs" – pure poetry.) For that matter, why didn't Stallone ever make Cobra 2? Guys, it's not too late for Action Jackson vs. Cobra 2017. What else do you have planned this year?
Watch Meryl Streep slam Donald Trump and honor Carrie Fisher at the 2017 Golden Globes.