Rob Sheffield on Golden Globes 2020: Drunk Upon a Time in Hollywood - Rolling Stone
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Golden Globes 2020: Drunk Upon a Time in Hollywood

Rob Sheffield breaks down the highs (fun speeches, drunk celebrities) and lows (Ricky Gervais, Ricky Gervais) of this year’s telecast

Host, Ricky Gervais, at the 77th Annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, CA on Sunday, January 5, 2020.

Ricky Gervais at the 77th Annual Golden Globe Awards.

Image Group LA/HFPA

On the bright side, Cats didn’t win anything. But Ricky Gervais kept coughing up hairballs all night. The host’s shtick at the 2020 Golden Globes felt incredibly stale, which might be one reason the stars were hitting the champagne harder than usual. The celebrity speeches got loopier as the night went on, on a scale of one to Joaquin. Olivia Colman summed up the mood when she accepted her Best Actress trophy for The Crown. “I don’t know what to say,” she announced. “I already got a little bit boozy.” Who could blame her?

The Golden Globes is the gala that officially kicks off awards season, which isn’t to say anyone takes it seriously — the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s trinkets are just “golden dildos,” in Peter Travers’ immortal words. The Beverly Hills Hilton, as always, was buzzing with desperation and free bubbly. As Gervais declared, “The meal was all vegetables, as are the members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.”

Give Ricky credit: He single-handedly rescued this franchise a decade ago, when he rebooted it as the bitchiest of award shows. But then Tina Fey and Amy Poehler took over and did it even better, and for some reason Ricky still seems enraged about it. When he tried to reclaim the Globes in 2016, nobody remembered the next day, since David Bowie died overnight. Last night, his insult-comic banter felt dated — a typical zinger was “I came here in a limo tonight, and the license plate was made by Felicity Huffman.” His best quip: “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood was almost three hours long. Leonardo DiCaprio went to the premiere, and by the time it was over, his date was too old for him.”

The schmooze-and-booze factor is a Globes tradition — you could spot Meryl Streep smooching Eddie Murphy, or Jay-Z popping a bottle with Beyoncé. A high point all night was the constant shots of the Irishman table, with Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, and Al Pacino. Bobby and Marty seemed to be having the best time of anyone in the room, in case you worried they cared (or even noticed) their movie didn’t win any Globes.

Ramy Youssef was a welcome surprise for his semi-autobiographical Hulu sitcom Ramy, making him the night’s least famous winner. “I know you guys didn’t watch my show,” he quipped. “Everyone is like, ‘Is this an editor?’” But he surely picked up some new fans with his hilarious speech, especially when he admitted that his mom was rooting for another nominee, because “Egyptians love Michael Douglas.”

Awkwafina, a well-deserved winner for The Farewell, dedicated her award to her father: “I told you I’d get a job, Dad.” Brian Cox took an acting prize for Succession, seizing the chance to cup TV son Kieran Culkin’s face in his hands and give him a great big kiss. Then he got lost wandering through the tables and had to be pointed to the stage by Jason Momoa in a tank top. (Why wasn’t Jason wearing his velvet Tom Ford jacket? Because he’d gallantly given it to his wife Lisa Bonet when she got chilly — ever the gentleman.)

Director Bong Joon Ho won for Parasite and gave a rousing speech in Korean, with a translator on hand to make his point: “Once you overcome the one-inch-tall barrier of subtitles, you’ll be introduced to so many more amazing films.” The moment was also perfectly timed, just hours after Korea’s Golden Disc Awards, where BTS went viral with their reaction to Parasite star Park So Dam doing the film‘s “Jessica Jingle”: “Jessica, only child, Chicago Illinois.”

Phoebe Waller-Bridge, to the surprise of nobody, won for the glorious second season of Fleabag. (Those final 10 minutes — total genius. Some of us are still recovering.) It was sweet to see Elton’s fanboy cheers for Phoebe as she walked to the stage — he must have appreciated her glitter suit. She was the only winner all night to thank a critic, even if the critic was an ex-President. Obama put Fleabag on his best-of-2019 list, a bold gesture considering the scene in Season One when she masturbates while watching him on TV. “Personally, I’d also like to thank Obama, for putting us on his list,” she said. “As some of you may know, he’s always been on mine.”

Elton John took Best Song with his longtime creative partner Bernie Taupin, for “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again.” It became a poignant moment when Elton crowed, “It’s the first time I’ve ever won an award with him! We never won a Grammy. We never did [win] anything together, and I’m so happy!” Finally, justice for Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy. It’s ironic they won for a trifle nobody noticed in a movie nobody will remember in a year — Rocketman, a biopic that somehow managed to make Elton’s life look unbearably boring. (Not to mention mangling a two-word song title.) But as Bernie said, “It’s a 52-year marriage.”

The most emotionally powerful moment was Kate McKinnon’s heartfelt tribute to Ellen DeGeneres. As she said, “In 1997, when Ellen’s sitcom was at the height of its popularity, I was in my mothers’ basement lifting weights in front of the mirror and thinking ‘Am I gay?’ And I was. And I still am. But that’s a very scary thing to suddenly know about yourself. It’s sort of like doing 23 and Me and discovering that you have alien DNA.” Ellen’s speech was as gracious as McKinnon’s, with a nod to special guest Carol Burnett. Her career montage included the Ellen episode where she came out — just to remind everyone her sexual-awakening crush was played by Laura Dern, who won for Marriage Story. This year, all roads lead to Laura Dern.

Michelle Williams gave the night’s sharpest and savviest political speech, addressing reproductive choice. “Women from 18 to 118, when it is time to vote, please do so in your own self-interest. It’s what men have been doing for years.” Patricia Arquette was one of the few stars all night to mention the brand-new war, though her outfit made its own righteous statement, right down to her blue shades. She also had a sweet moment on her walk to the stage: a wave to old pal Quentin Tarantino, 25 years after he wrote her star-making role in True Romance.

Jennifer Aniston had the thankless task of reading Russell Crowe’s somber message about the Australian fires. She also had an empathetic smile when she had to watch Brad Pitt win for Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood — now that’s grace under pressure. As Brad quipped, “When I asked Quentin how he wanted us to play two aging movie guys who were on their way out, he said, ‘Just be yourselves.’” Brave words, considering that this year “Best Supporting Actor” could have been renamed “Most Gratuitous Topless Scene by a 55-Year-Old Man in Movie History.” Tarantino gave a film-nerd orgasm of a speech, saluting his screenwriting idols John Milius and Robert Bolt. Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood won nearly every category it was nominated for, except Leo didn’t snag Best Actor — as Julia Butters would say, poor Easy Breezy. Quentin also announced that he’s in the process of reproducing, an ominous turn of events to be sure.

Joaquin Phoenix, winning Best Actor for Joker, evidently decided to pay tribute to the late Chris Farley by reprising his “nervous interviewer” SNL routine, except interviewing himself. It was a flop-sweat sonata of a speech, the first time all night the orchestra had to play someone off. Then Renée Zellweger won for Judy and set out to top Joaquin, but couldn’t reach his level of incoherence. Sacha Baron Cohen described Jojo Rabbit as the story of “a naive, misguided child who spreads Nazi propaganda and only has imaginary friends. His name is Mark Zuckerberg.” It was his funniest move at the Golden Globes since the time he dumped Kim Jong Il’s ashes on Ryan Seacrest.

Warren Beatty was seated next to Taylor Swift, which must have been the work of a practical joker with a sense of history. Pierce Brosnan, who played one of the three dads in Mamma Mia, did another solid for fatherhood by donating his sons to wander across the stage as escorts. Tom Hanks got the Cecil B. DeMille lifetime achievement award and saw his highlight reel kick off with a clip from The Love Boat. De Niro had a grave face while Tom was talking, no doubt remembering the night they gave him this award and he did an unbelievably douchey stand-up routine about Megan Fox.

Note: The ceremony didn’t include an “In Memoriam” montage this year — maybe because it’s impossible not to snicker at an “In Memoriam” montage ever again after the Netflix sketch series I Think You Should Leave parodied them with surgical precision (see “Baby of the Year,” Episode One). But really, adding “cause of death” to those things is an innovation that needs to happen, even if nobody gets pancaked by a dump truck driver.

In This Article: Golden Globes, Ricky Gervais

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