Indie films and quirky TV dramas won big at the Golden Globes Sunday night, as some of the biggest risks that film and television producers have taken in recent years were rewarded. Director Richard Linklater’s life drama Boyhood took home three trophies, while nuanced television series like Transparent, The Affair and Fargo also won multiple awards.
Although the Golden Globes rarely predicts wins at the Oscars and Emmys in the coming months, the typically loose soiree has historically been the place where high risks are highly rewarded – and not just when it comes to Cosby jokes in the opening monologue. So when Linklater called his 12-years-in-the-making portrait of youth the “biggest leap of faith in film history,” during his acceptance speech for the night’s most coveted honor — Best Motion Picture, Drama — he wasn’t kidding. But even if the awards show isn’t the sure-thing arbiter of honors to come, this year it revealed itself as a predictor where Hollywood could be heading.
From speeches that recognized the evolving roles of women in Hollywood to streaming services beating out programs and actors on terrestrial TV, the Golden Globes this year showed that the worlds of film and TV aren’t nearly as predictable as they were even a decade ago. This was nowhere more apparent than in the shows that won in TV categories.
Toward the end of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler’s opening monologue this year, the pair tried to transition out of their bold Cosby impressions with the latter saying, “Let’s talk about television,” and co-host interrupting her to say they’re running out of time, “our apologies, television.” But ultimately, the changing landscape of TV became one of the most interesting things about this year’s awards show.
In addition to the usual critics’ cable darlings (The Affair and Fargo, each won two each), shows broadcast on Amazon and Netflix also scored in major categories. After eight nominations over the years, Kevin Spacey finally won his first-ever Hollywood Foreign Press trophy for his role on Netflix’s House of Cards, while Amazon’s first-season, transgender-themed dramedy Transparent won Golden Globes in the two categories it was nominated for, Best TV Series, Musical or Comedy and Best Actor in a TV Series, for Jeffrey Tambor.
Transparent’s win also allowed for a nationally televised awards show to provide a platform to the show’s creator, Jill Soloway, and lead actor, Tambor, opportunities to spotlight the trans community. The showrunner called the trans community her family and thanked her “moppa” – her father who came out as trans, in part inspiring the show – in her speech. “I just want to thank you for coming out, because in doing so, you made a break for freedom, you told your truth,” she said to him. “You taught me to tell my truth and make this show, and maybe we’re able to teach the world something about authenticity and truth and love.”
Tambor dedicated part of his speech to the advisors who helped him create the show’s Maura Pfefferman, who transitions from a man named Mort late in life. “Rhys Ernst, Zackary Drucker, Jenny Boylan, you led me through the steps to find more of Jeffrey than I have known in my entire life,” he said. Later, turning his attention to the transgender community, he said, “Thank you for your courage, for your inspiration, for your patience and thank you for letting us be a part of the change.”
Elsewhere in the broadcast, actresses recognized the breadth of roles women are playing in film and TV today. Julianne Moore, who won Best Actress in the drama movie category for Still Alice, marveled at how when she took the role the novelist whose book the film was based on told her, “no one wanted to see a movie about a middle-aged woman.” Maggie Gyllenhaal, who won Best Actress in a miniseries for The Honorable Woman, praised the “wealth of roles for actual woman,” adding, “That’s what I think is revolutionary and evolutionary, and it’s what’s turning me on.” Boyhood actress Patricia Arquette (Best Actress in a Supporting Role) thanked Linklater for writing the role of an “underappreciated single mother” and for “shining a light on this woman and the millions of women like her and for allowing me to honor my own mother with this beautiful character.” Actress Lily Tomlin, during a presentation speech, voiced her opinion by simply flipping the script on a long-running narrative: “We can finally put to rest that negative stereotype that men just aren’t funny.”
It’s worth noting here, too, that while Poehler and Fey’s monologue wasn’t the strongest of their three-year stint as Golden Globes hosts, they, along with Margaret Cho’s recurring North Korean general character, provided the biggest laughs of the night. Whether Poehler joking about how Wes Anderson arrived on a “bicycle made of antique tuba parts” or Fey comparing the two hours Steve Carell took to get into makeup for Foxcatcher to the “three hours today to prepare for my role as ‘human woman'” – not to overlook the forced photo Cho’s character took with Meryl Streep – the women provided a comedic counterpoint to the seriousness of many of the night’s speeches.
From remarks about the protests in France (“Je suis Charlie,” George Clooney said at the end of his Cecil B. DeMille Award speech) to rapper Common’s poignant recognition of civil rights activists in the Sixties during his acceptance speech for his and John Legend’s Selma song “Glory” (“Selma has awakened my humanity,” he said) the night was full of sobering moments. Even a rare, inexplicable and strangely stoic appearance by Prince seemed serious.
Luckily, Cho was there to play “Cho Young Jah,” a side effect of the Sony hack that crippled Hollywood this year. During her three appearances, she provided some much-needed levity by pointing out improvements on the show, like thousands of babies playing guitar, Dennis Rodman (or any basketball) and that Orange Is the New Black should have been in the drama category (“Piper and Alex relationship is very toxic,” she asserted). “I host next year, good night,” she said at the end of the show. If next year’s Globes are anything like the ones this year, it’ll be an interesting show, with or without Cho.