Tina Fey and Amy Poehler said it all as they kicked off the 2021 Golden Globes: “Could this whole night have been an email? Yes.” This was the Zoom edition of the Globes: Tina was in New York’s Rainbow Room, Poehler was in L.A. at the Beverly Hilton. But unfortunately, that takes a toll on the whole point of this gala, which is cramming a Hollywood hotel room full of stars, plying them with free booze, and letting hilarity ensue. As the hosts quipped last night, it’s always a tipsy mess (“Meryl Streep, just hammered, can’t remember what movie she’s there for”) and that’s exactly why we watch. Tina said it best: “These bitches are messy.”
Fey and Poehler are the greatest award-show hosts of all time, ever since they made the Golden Globes their personal bash with their three-year run starting in 2013. But they couldn’t salvage this year’s awful show. It wasn’t messy in the “Jaqueline Bisset gets lost wandering up to the stage” sense, or the “Margaret Cho plays a Korean dictator” sense, or the “Poehler makes out with Bono” sense. It was messy in the “painful technical glitches and unfunny Zoom gaffes” sense. It was messy in the “Jason Sudeikis would like to chat with you about Tolstoy” sense. And not a single spilled drink.
The first time they did the Globes, Poehler quipped, “We won’t be making any offensive jokes. When you run afoul of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, they make you host this show at least two more times.” Guess Tina and Amy must have really pissed them off to get roped into this one. They did their best, in a hilariously nasty opening monologue. Fey said, “We will be honoring all of the fantastic TV shows you binge-watched this year: the American Office, old Columbos, very one-sided news programs.” Poehler added, “And of course, the cranberry juice skateboard guy.” They explained the subtle difference between film and TV in a year where the the theaters are closed. “We watch TV and movies differently,” Fey said. “In movies, it’s called human trafficking, but on TV, it’s called 90-Day Fiance.”
And of course, they roasted the nominees. Best Tina line: “French Exit is what I did after watching the first episode of Emily in Paris.” Best Amy line: “The Trial of the Chicago 7 — I think it’s the best of all the Trial of Chicago movies. But it’s still not as good as Police Academy 7: Mission to Moscow.”
But if anyone summed up the vibe of this year’s Golden Globes, it was Jason Sudeikis. He gave off Daddy’s Going Through Some Shit Right Now vibes, in the most excellent way. His bloodshot eyes. His existential mustache. That hoodie. The way he kept waving his net in the air, chasing the elusive butterfly of semi-coherence (“the best actor is the person you’re with”). He was clearly high on the excitement of winning. It was awesome, especially with the agony of his fellow nominees. Yes, Don Cheadle gave the wrap-it-up sign, but the best was Ramy Youssef’s eyerolls, proving he should never play poker. Jason summed up the night for sure — a year in stir means we are all his tie-dye hoodie now, are we not?
There was controversy this year, as Hollywood was stunned to discover that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association is not a democratic body committed to diversity or inclusion or artistic achievement — just a gang of 90 Eurotrash flunkies with no taste, no standards, no credibility. Since the HFPA has never been anything else, and has never been taken seriously once in the past 78 years, there was something droll about the media pretending they just found out some kind of dirty secret. Don’t they remember this is the same HFPA that just a few years ago gave a Best Actor award to Sylvester Stallone? Or the first time Bryan Cranston got nominated for Breaking Bad, but he lost the Best Actor in a TV Drama award to … Kelsey Grammer? (That’s right: Kelsey was in a Starz political thriller called Boss. You can look it up.) Anybody who looks for credibility at the Golden Globes is shopping for a soulmate in a dildo store.
The non-winners were crankier than usual; without a live crowd, it was evidently tough to remember to smile politely and clap when you lose. There was something sadistic about making them sit there, twitching awkwardly on their couches. After the Sudeikis soliloquy, the orchestra began playing the winners off, which is really nasty to do to people in their own homes. I’m a longtime opponent of using the orchestra to bully people into silence. However, I am in favor of using the orchestra to drown out the word “storytelling.” Seriously. As soon as someone starts with the consonant cluster “st—,” the orchestra should jump in with a brief blurt.
Catherine O’Hara won for Schitt’s Creek, but her husband kept doing a desperately unfunny bit where he made noise on his phone to drown her out. Maybe it was funny in their living room? The rest of us might feel a bit cheated out of the O’Hara content we live for. If you’re going to try and upstage this woman, sorry, but you’re going to lose.
We didn’t get to see the stars schmooze and booze this year, so we had to settle for scoping out their habitats. Jared Leto had the night’s most tasteful bookshelves, which seemed to have a couple of actual books on them. Chloe Zhao had a sparse office with a Moleskine notebook on the desk and — talk about a power move — an ashtray. Colin Farrell held down the lonely-guy bachelor pad look, with bongos on his couch. Jeff Daniels went for an even sadder hideout room with lots of closets. Bill Murray sat on his lawn in a Hawaiian shirt, giving even less of a shit than usual, while Frances McDormand and Cate Blanchett decided not to even click on that Zoom link.
Norman Lear won the Carol Burnett Award, and graciously made his speech a fond tribute to Burnett. His career highlight reel went back to his Fifties days writing gags for Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. Sadly, the montage barely mentioned Sanford and Son, with no reference at all to Hot L Baltimore or All’s Fair. (You know, the Seventies political rom-com that got Bernadette Peters a Globes nom for Best Actress?) A sweet moment during his speech: When Lear mentioned he was coming up on his 99th birthday, Jason Sudeikis visibly mouthed the words, “Wow! He’s 99?” (Ironically, Lear was sharp as a tack as always, while Jason’s speech was the one that evoked the “Grandma, let’s get you to bed” meme.)
Jane Fonda won the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award, and gave a rousing speech calling for more diversity in Hollywood. As her speech ended, she shouted, “Happy birthday, Tommy Tune!” (The famous Broadway choreographer/director did indeed turn 81 over the weekend. Good to know!)
There were well-deserved winners all night: Daniel Kaluuya for Judas and the Black Messiah, John Boyega for Steve McQueen’s Small Axe, Mark Ruffalo won for I Know This Much Is True, Anya Taylor-Joy for The Queens’s Gambit. Trent Reznor, after winning Best Score for Soul, said, “I think this is the first piece of art I’ve ever made in my life that I can actually show to my kids.” Well put, Mr. Big-Time Hard-Line Bad-Luck Fist-Fuck!
When Andra Day won for her great performance in The United States vs. Billie Holiday, she had an entire room full of her family deep in their feelings. Regina King and Glenn Close won the cutest-dog competition. Sandra Oh, incapable of not winning on every level, beamed in from a snowy yard, while someone pulled a toy dinosaur on a sled behind her. Al Pacino, who may or may not have been awake on camera, looked like he’s preparing to star in a Jimmy Page biopic. Aaron Sorkin was watching in his posh pad with a harem that included Olivia Munn.
It was a great night for cuddly couples. Andy Samberg and Joanna Newsom were simply adorable, and whatever you thought of the surprise win for Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, it was sweet to see Isla Fischer on the couch right next to Sacha Baron Cohen. It was so touching how she laughed loyally at his unfunny Trump/Giuliani jokes. That’s amore. (She wins this year’s Ana De Armas Easily Amused Girlfriend Award.) Jodie Foster won for The Mauritanian, cozying up with her wife and dog. Jodie deserved a Globes do-over after her ill-fated Lifetime Achievement speech in 2014, when she inexplicably had Mel “Sugar Tits” Gibson as her guest of honor. (She thanked the Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers, who just thanked her in his NFL MVP speech.)
Maya Rudolph and Kenan Thompson did a comedy bit as the songwriting team of Beverly Jackfruit and Francois Jean-Rudy, winners of the award for “Least Original Song in a Relefilm, Dramedy or Comma.” The Crown cleaned up awards-wise, with Josh O’Connor giving his endearing speech in his spiffiest Ducky-at-the-prom suit. Olivia Colman, who plays his royal mother, smiled at him proudly — the way we all like to imagine Olivia Colman smiling on us.
The most emotional moment: The late Chadwick Boseman won Best Actor for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, as everyone knew he would. His wife Taylor Simone Ledward accepted not just his award, but the unbelievably difficult job of trying to speak for him, and she gave a heroically poignant speech. “I don’t have his words,” she admitted. “He would say something beautiful, something inspiring, something that would amplify that little voice that tells you that you can, that tells you to keep going.” It was a tribute to his artistry and their love: larger than life, stronger than death. At the end, she said, “Hon, you keep ’em coming.”
When Chloe Zhao won Best Director for Nomadland, she noted that the nomads in the film don’t say goodbye, they say “see you down the road.” So see you down the road, Tina and Amy. Hopefully, next year you can stand in the same room again, and breathe in the sweet aroma of movie stars coming unglued. If not? We’ll always have Jason’s hoodie.