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20 Best, Worst and Most WTF Moments of Golden Globes 2018

From Seth Meyers putting abusers on blast to that historic Oprah speech – the highlights (and low points) of this year’s politically charged broadcast

Hollywood’s big awards shows haven’t been shy about wearing activism on their sleeves in recent years, ever since 2016’s #OscarsSoWhite campaign took the Academy to task for its racism by omission. But never before has Tinseltown’s admonishment of its own failings been so front-and-center than at last night’s 75th Golden Globe Awards. 

The specter of sexual harassment and abuse in the entertainment industry cast a massive, Harvey Weinstein-shaped shadow over the evening, and the night felt like an exorcism of those demons. The guests were even dressed for an exorcism: Almost the entire assembly wore black (or variants thereof – we saw those navy accents) in solidarity with Time’s Up, a newly founded initiative dedicated to combatting gender inequality and sexual misconduct in Hollywood and beyond. And the night was marked by frank, politically charged moments from female presenters and honorees, most memorably a rousing, powerful speech from Cecil B. DeMille Award winner Oprah Winfrey and a thrillingly unscripted reproach from presenter Natalie Portman.

Though the awards themselves almost seemed like an afterthought, there was still plenty to talk about. Here are the best, worst and just plain bizarre WTF moments from the 2018 Golden Globes.

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Best: Seth Meyers’ Opening Putting Abusers on Blast

“Good evening, ladies and remaining gentlemen,” Late Night impresario Seth Meyers began the ceremony, with a wink and a shiver. He used his opening monologue to put the sea of black satin around him into context, expressing his nervousness about a status as a privileged Hollywood white dude only half-jokingly. The host also turned it into a roast of some of the industry powerhouses who’ve been called out, including Kevin Spacey and Woody Allen. But he saved his most savage burn for the #MeToo era’s most monstrous beast: “Harvey Weinstein isn’t here tonight. Because, well, I’ve heard rumors that he’s crazy and difficult to work with. But don’t worry, he’ll be back in 20 years when he becomes the first person ever booed during the ‘In Memoriam.'” Meyer’s monologue hit home not just because it was on point. It was also really damn funny. JS

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Worst: That Stiff Presenter Patter

It’s not an easy time to be funny – and many of last night’s presenters really drove that point home by making the audience feel like they were witnessing a terrible first date. Garrett Hedlund and Kerry Washington attempted a baffling bit in which the joke was that actors are … sometimes very dramatic. Roseanne Barr and John Goodman chased the same punchline and met with only slightly more success. With a few rare exceptions, there was a surprising lack of chemistry, as evidenced by blank stares, missed cues and ever so subtle elbows; eventually the celebs went straight to the nominees. Meanwhile, reliable charmers like Neil Patrick Harris and Emma Stone were M.I.A. up on stage. You know things are bad when a winning combination like Amy Poehler and Andy Samberg wrap up their own clumsy banter by saying, “What are ya gonna do? It’s a weird year.” PR

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WTF: A Bad Year to Have a White Male Host

Look, Seth Meyers is a treasure – this is a scientific fact. But if ever there was a year that could coax Tina Fey and Amy Poehler out of their Golden Globes retirement, how was this not it? Meyers was surely thinking the same thing; he was appropriately self-conscious, if not downright apologetic. With so many women dressed in black, speaking truth to power and declaring “time’s up,” it’s odd that not one of them was asked to host an evening that largely functioned as a political and professional reckoning with gender inequality. Maybe offers were declined. Perhaps women were content to let a guy handle the usual award-ceremony baloney while they got to be the disrupters and land jabs – female presenters scored direct hits with comments on wage disparity and the absence of female directors. But hosting is a job, too, and this year it was another example of just how badly this industry hurts for diversity. PR

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Best: Oprah Brings the House Down

An almost unison cry of “OPRAH 2020” went up across social media after Ms. Winfrey finished her acceptance speech for the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement. The star used her platform – as she so often has during her long, illustrious and multi-hyphenated career – to both inspire and call out injustices committed against women and minorities. In the course of a politically charged nine-minute address, she drew attention to the fact that the ills the Time’s Up movement is grappling with go far beyond Hollywood, and talked about what it meant to her growing up to see African American performers honored in a white-dominated industry. She also shared the story of the recently deceased Recy Taylor, a black woman who was brutally raped by six white men in the 1940s and whose assailants were never brought to justice. 

And then Winfrey delivered what may be the thesis of the night: “For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dare speak the truth to the power of those men. But their time is up. Their time is up!” The audience was quickly on their feet. Where do we cast our ballots? JS

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WTF: Why Wasn’t a Woman of Color Introducing Oprah?

Consider this the companion complaint to the host entry: It’s not that Reese Witherspoon isn’t worthy of the honor. But in a room that includes Kerry Washington, Issa Rae, Ava DuVernay and Tracee Ellis Ross, was the Big Little Lies star really the best person to speak to Oprah Winfrey’s towering achievements? After all, DuVernay, the first black woman to direct a movie with a 100-million-plus budget, is sitting right there! (Witherspoon and Winfrey star in that movie, A Wrinkle in Time.) Of course, the blonde Oscar winner was as effusive and plucky as you would expect her to be, talking about the honoree’s hugs, English muffins and business acumen. But Winfrey opened her own speech by recalling how she felt as a child when Sidney Poitier won best actor in 1964 – and you can’t help thinking how wonderful it would have been had any person of color in attendance been able to offer her that same tribute. PR

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Best: Natalie Portman’s Dig at the Best Director Category

As the ceremony eased into its third and final act, there appeared to be some concern that perhaps people were being a little too polite. Harvey Weinstein wasn’t the only problem plaguing Hollywood, after all. Jessica Chastain stumbled over remarks about the pay gap, and Barbara Streisand fumbled in making a point about female directors – but not Natalie Portman. She came to play, and by play we mean throw some dead-serious shade. Presenting the category for best director alongside affability posterboy Ron Howard, she said derisively, “And here are the all-male nominees.” It was gloriously rude, and with that one little qualifier she managed to say: “Nobody here should get the warm and fuzzies over this win when so many other people have been excluded so that you could be the only ones to occupy this space.” Martin McDonagh, Christopher Nolan, Ridley Scott, Steven Spielberg and Guillermo del Toro could only exchange sheepish looks in return. PR

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Best: A Pair of Wins for ‘Lady Bird’

Netting five nominations (though ahem, not Best Director for some reason), Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut won a Best Actress award for the excellent Saoirse Ronan and took home Best Motion Picture in the Musical or Comedy. The coming-of-age masterpiece, about an outspoken Sacramento teen getting through her senior year and her tempestuous relationship with her mother (Laurie Metcalf) has a wit, specificity and heart that makes it an instant classic. Gerwig was visibly over the moon to receive her statuette, and as a film written and directed by a woman, about the complex ways women interact with each other, it’s a fitting honoree for the year of #MeToo. JS

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Best: ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Adds to Its Pile of Awards

Bruce Miller’s adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s iconic novel cleaned up at the Emmys last year, taking home eight statuettes. We’re glad to see it thrive at the Globes, too, earning Best Television Series – Drama and Best Performance by An Actress in a Television Series – Drama for Elisabeth Moss’s shattering central performance. In a moving acceptance speech, the actor refigured a quote from the book about how women “lived in the gaps between stories.” “We no longer live in the gaps,” Moss said. “We are the story in print, and we are writing the story ourselves.” JS

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Best: ‘Big Little Lies’ Wins Big

It’s not just that the HBO miniseries boasted a powerhouse cast, or that it was suspenseful, or that it was the perfect sendup of ridiculously wealthy enclaves. It also revealed the still largely untapped potential for telling women’s stories. Based on the book by Liane Moriarty, and shepherded to the screen by stars/executive producers Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman (as well as David E. Kelley), Big Little Lies proved once again that the premium-cable network doesn’t have to rely solely on dragons, robots and boobs and dudes to have a hit on its hands. Kidman, Laura Dern and Alexander Skarsgard took home awards for their fierce performances, and the show easily bested other contenders in the limited series category. This triumph, along with victories for The Handmaid’s Tale and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, felt like an appropriate kick-off to the Time’s Up movement. PR 

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Worst: Alexander Skarsgard’s Big Little Missed Opportunity

In Big Little Lies, Skarsgard gives a great performance as a terrible human: violent, controlling, abusive. His Best Supporting Actor in a TV Miniseries acceptance speech started out big-upping his formidable female costars, whom he seemed genuinely in awe of … before getting momentarily tongue-tied and referring to them as “girls.” Okay, that’s definitely a diminutive term for veterans like Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon, but hey, accidents happen. The real disappointment, however, was that the actor didn’t take the opportunity to urge men to take more responsibility for the very real danger that women face every day at the hands of men like his character (i.e. Harvey Weinstein). It would have been great to see him use that win to nod to some of the same issues that his BLL colleagues did. PR

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Worst: ‘Get Out’ Gets Shut Out

Jordan Peele’s horror movie was hailed as one of the best of the year almost as soon as it was released, praised for playing on the anxieties of a black man (Daniel Kaluuya) meeting the family of his white girlfriend (Allison Williams). It was smart, scary, and perfectly timed, coming as it did on the heels of Trump taking office. Sadly, the movie wasn’t even nominated for its original screenplay, and Kaluuya lost out to James Franco for Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Comedy. (Don’t get us started on Get Out being labeled as a comedy in the first place.) At the very least, Kaluuya and Williams could have presented and made fun of the white ladies in Alabama who voted for Roy Moore – something to show what a perceptive and necessary allegory this movie is. PR

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Best: ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ Is TV’s Breakout Newcomer

In its debut season on Amazon, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel traced the unlikely rise of upper-class Jewish housewife Midge Maisel through the male-dominated New York City stand-up scene of the 1950s. It won both for Best Television Series and Best Actress in Musical or Comedy, with newcomer Rachel Brosnahan beating out stiff competition that included Issa Rae for Insecure and Alison Brie for GLOW. “This is a story about a bold and brilliant and complicated woman, and I’m endlessly proud to be a part of it,” the actor said in her speech. And though it’s set more than half a century ago, Amy Sherman-Palladino’s story of a woman cheerfully and brilliantly ascending amidst a chorus of haters is a tale that feels very 2018. JS

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Best: Outsiders Get a Seat at the Beverly Hilton

Who would ever guess that the man behind the infamously terrible The Room would wind up onstage at the Golden Globes? Tommy Wiseau’s materialization during James Franco’s acceptance speech for portraying the cult-movie auteur in The Disaster Artist was one of the night’s more unexpected absurdities … but there was also something really nice about it. Both Wiseau and Tonya Harding’s presence at the ceremony, as unlikely subjects for two of the year’s best biopics, were a welcome and rare instance of Hollywood opening up its gilded gates. And they weren’t the only outsiders at the Globes: Emma Watson, Meryl Streep, Amy Poehler and other actresses brought activists from outside the entertainment industry to attend the ceremony, including #MeToo founder Tarana Burke and Latina gender equality advocate Mónica Ramírez. Their presence was vital to ensuring that all those black dresses were more than just a fashion choice, but a promise to do better. JS

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Worst: ‘Call Me by Your Name’ Gets the Cold Shoulder

One of the year’s most critically beloved films, Call Me by Your Name crystallized the experience of infatuation with delicate, slow-burning grace. But the HFPA were less than enthused, snubbing it in all three categories for which it was nominated – Best Motion Picture, Best Actor (Timothée Chalamet) and Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Armie Hammer). Not to mention that both director Luca Guadagnino and screenwriter James Ivory were snubbed in their categories nomination-wise, despite having crafted what’s arguably the most evocative cinematic mood piece since Moonlight. This quietly unfolding gay romance may lack the bombast of other films the Globes favored, but its subtlety is also the source of its power. The film’s failure to bring home any gold was a crying shame. JS

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WTF: ‘The Post’ Is Ignored … by a Press Association

Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep and Steven Spielberg together for the first time, in a movie about the importance of journalism? Seems like a gimme for the HFPA, right? At the top of the show, Meyers even included a bit in which Globes were hauled out at the first mention of The Post, but this turned out to be wildly premature – the movie and its megawatt team were entirely ignored. This was doubly surprising given that the story of Katharine Graham, the first female publisher of the Washington Post, and her decision to publish the Pentagon Papers have taken on an unexpected relevance in the wake of Trump’s vicious attacks on the freedom of the press. That a movie with this pedigree could walk away empty handed is a testament to its stiff competition. PR

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Best: Sterling K. Brown’s Historic Win

It was refreshing to see history made when the supremely talented This Is Us star became the first black man to take home the best actor statue for a TV drama. Brown, who plays the adopted son of a white family, brings a certain gravitas to NBC’s notorious weepfest and has helped the series tackle a range of current, often fraught topics. But instead of calling attention to the historic distinction, Brown thanked series creator Dan Fogelman for writing a role explicitly for a black man. “Throughout the majority of my career, I’ve benefited from colorblind casting, which means, ‘Hey, let’s throw a brother in there,'” Brown said. “What I appreciate so much about this is that I’m being seen for who I am and being appreciated for who I am, and it makes it that much more difficult to dismiss me or dismiss anybody who looks like me.” PR 

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Best: Frances McDormand’s Best Actress Speech

The sheer amount of shade that Three Billboards star Frances McDormand was throwing at the camera throughout the night promised that she most definitely had something to say. And deliver she did, in a speech so apparently laden with expletives that we couldn’t actually hear about a quarter of it. McDormand offered to buy all her fellow nominees a round of tequilas, praised the HFPA for the fact that they “managed to elect a female president” and acknowledging that though she doesn’t like to talk politics, “It was really great to be in this room tonight and to be a part of a tectonic shift in our industry’s power structure.” JS

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WTF: ‘Three Billboards’ Cleans Up…Maybe a Little Too Much

It was a year of cinematic riches, many of which – though not all – were on display in the Golden Globes’ nomination pool. But in a surprise twist, the HFPA awarded the lion’s share to Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, including Best Motion Picture, Best Actress and Supporting Actor in the Drama categories, and Best Screenplay. It features a blisteringly powerful central performance from Frances McDormand as a woman bent on avenging her daughter’s rape and murder. But it’s a controversial pick – “problematic” is a word that’s been used by many to describe the film’s politics – and in the same year as the near-perfect Call Me By Your Name, Get Out and The Post, shutting them all out in favor of this film can’t help but feel like a missed opportunity. JS

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Best: Allison Janney Wins for ‘I, Tonya’

Between I, Tonya, Lady Bird and Three Billboards, 2017 was a year for stories about just how fraught and dramatically compelling the relationships between mothers and daughters can be. And this year’s most acidic cinematic matriarch was certainly LaVona Golden, the woman who dragged her daughter Tonya Harding through a childhood of competition and abuse. Allison Janney’s bombastic take on the role struck the perfect balance between high camp and true darkness, with a bird on her shoulder and poison in her heart. In her Best Actress speech, the actor took the opportunity to thank the actual Tonya Harding (who was there!) for sharing her story – one that we can only appreciate with the hindsight of how blithely sexist and classist shit was in the Nineties. “What everyone in this movie did is tell a story about class in America,” said Janney, “tell a story about the disenfranchised, tell a story about a woman who was not embraced for her individuality.” JS

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Best: The Powerful Effect of the All-Black Attire

Despite attempts in recent years to improve the conversation around award shows, such as the #AskHerMore campaign, these events tend to remain an extravagant, candy-colored parade of beautiful people in stunning costume. By contrast, the Golden Globes’ sea of black dresses and tuxes, while not exactly funereal, had a sobering effect. It was an acknowledgment of those who’ve suffered losses personally and professionally in a culture of silence that protected the industry’s worst abusers, and also a powerful statement of intent to be seen as more than sex objects. Last night’s ceremony was hardly fun – even Aziz Ansari, who somehow managed to lighten the mood of Inauguration weekend when he hosted SNL last year, was uncharacteristically muted. But at the same time the atmosphere felt appropriate, and even forced the question: What is all the hoopla about? This year, at least, it was about fighting back. PR