Even by the standards of the Golden Globes, the 2019 awards were weird.
One of the night’s Best Picture winners has been received horribly by critics, while the other has spurred constant streams of controversy over what it does and doesn’t include in its portrayal of the pre-civil rights South (to say nothing of black people of that era).
And if that wasn’t enough, the TV awards were spread across a whole host of programs, with just two shows winning more than a single award (they each won two).
The 2019 Golden Globes, then, reflected a year in entertainment without clear front-runners, without a sense of one or two projects rising to the top to dominate the conversation. And while that lack of consensus should ultimately make for a fun awards season, it yielded a Golden Globes ceremony that sometimes seemed to wildly careen from odd to bizarre, with occasional stops to reward some truly deserving winners along the way. (Shoutout to The Americans!)
Here are seven winners and two losers from the 2019 Golden Globe awards.
Winner: Sandra Oh
Sandra Oh isn’t known as a comedian, but she makes a great comedic partner for Andy Samberg, and after handling their opening monologue with aplomb, the pair mostly stepped out of the way.
But in just being on the stage, she was making Golden Globes history. Oh was the first woman of Asian descent (she is Korean-Canadian) to host a major entertainment awards show in the US.
She also won a Globe for her performance on BBC America’s Killing Eve, in which she plays the title character, a detective looking for a mysterious killer. It was her second Golden Globes win (after a supporting actress win in 2006 for Grey’s Anatomy), which made her the first woman of Asian descent to win multiple Golden Globes, and the first in 39 years to win the Globe for best actress in a TV drama.
With this year’s Golden Globes — which included a heartfelt tribute to the diverse faces in the crowd — she was a true winner in more than one way. —Alissa Wilkinson
Winner: (Just about) every major TV awards player
Until the final two TV awards of the evening, no single program had won more than a single Golden Globe. And very few networks had won more than a single Golden Globe. Indeed, the night’s big TV winners were Netflix’s The Kominsky Method and FX’s The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story. Both programs won just two awards.
Along the way, HBO (Sharp Objects), Showtime (Escape at Dannemora), BBC America (Killing Eve), and Amazon (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and A Very English Scandal) all took home trophies, while Netflix and FX each tacked on another award for Bodyguard and The Americans, respectively.
Sure, there are major TV awards players not represented there, like Hulu and AMC, but the Globes really, really, really tried to spread the wealth.
Perhaps that reflects a year in TV that was widely seen as just okay. It also might reflect the Globes’ ongoing fascination with British people (as they handed awards to A Very British Scandal’s Ben Whishaw and Bodyguard’s Richard Madden) and megacelebrities (like The Kominsky Method’s Michael Douglas). It could just as likely reflect the way the Globes give out just a handful of TV awards, which means it’s hard for any one show to win more than a couple.
But it’s just as likely that it reflects how no one single program has steamrolled everything around it of late. There were a lot of good TV shows on the air in 2018 — if not a lot of great ones — and the Globes were more than happy to spread the wealth to reflect that fact. —Todd VanDerWerff
Netflix wasn’t the movie studio or TV network with the most wins this year. It fell behind Universal (the distributor of Green Book) three wins to two on the film side, and only tied FX on the TV side (both Netflix and FX won three prizes). But if you consider how Netflix won five awards total, it blows everybody else away. What’s more, those awards included some major prizes, including the Best Director prize for Roma’s Alfonso Cuarón and the Best TV Comedy Series award for The Kominsky Method.
Netflix’s massive awards campaigns have blanketed Los Angeles in For Your Consideration billboards and ad after ad. (I can see several from my office window!) That has yet to help the streaming titan win an Emmy for best drama or comedy series, or garner an Oscar nomination for Best Picture.
But the Golden Globes were at least hesitant about Netflix for a while too. (Weirdly, they used to be way more interested in Amazon.) Now, the results of the 2019 awards suggest that Netflix has won over the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) as surely as its millions upon millions of subscribers.
Next stop: the Oscars. —TV
Winner: Film acting speeches
An underrated part of the Oscar campaign calendar is the speech given at another awards show that’s clearly meant to serve as a stealth campaign for winning a similar prize at the Oscars. And when it came to the 2019 Golden Globes, every single movie acting winner gave a speech that made Oscar voters watching at home think, “Oh, yeah, they seem charming and fun.”
Take supporting actor winner Mahershala Ali: His speech for the somewhat controversial Green Book took the classic tack of addressing the controversy head on (for those who know about it), while not seeming weighed down by said controversy to those who have no idea. By acknowledging the real man he plays in Green Book — whose family has argued the movie badly represents him — and praising that man’s work, Ali deftly skewed away from overt awards season politicking in a fashion that was, nonetheless, a pretty expert bit of covert awards season politicking.
Other winners took different approaches, from Glenn Close calling for women to step into the limelight and live their best lives after winning Best Drama Actress for The Wife, to Christian Bale seeming folksy and funny after winning Best Comedy Actor for Vice, to Olivia Colman marveling at the fun journey she’s had on the awards circuit as a less-well-known British actress after winning Best Comedy Actress for The Favourite.
Obviously, these good speeches don’t guarantee that any of these people will win at the Oscars — in the lead categories, after all, Colman and Close will compete against one another, while Bale will be pitted against Bohemian Rhapsody’s Rami Malek, who won Best Drama Actor at the Globes. And there are plenty of great contenders waiting in the wings, like A Star Is Born’s lead duo of Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper.
But, also, nobody made any overt screwups at the Globes when it came to their acceptance speeches. If you’re an awards season consultant working with one of these folks, you have a nice head of steam heading into the next phase of awards campaigning. —TV
Loser: A Star Is Born
Between its huge success at the box office ($400 million worldwide, with $200 million of it coming from the US and Canada alone), its Oscar-beloved director and star (three-time nominee Bradley Cooper), its critical acclaim, and its lineage as the fifth telling of an almost elemental Hollywood myth, A Star Is Born initially felt like the movie to beat on this year’s awards circuit.
Except ... it ... hasn’t been. Yes, A Star Is Born has earned the nominations it needs at various precursor awards to make a comfortable number of Oscar nominations seem likely. But when it comes time to actually win something, A Star Is Born keeps getting knocked around by other movies, be they more forthrightly artsy ones (Roma, the critical darling of the year) or more brazenly populist ones (like Golden Globes champ Bohemian Rhapsody). Yeah, it did win one Golden Globe, but that was for Best Original Song — hardly a harbinger of Oscar glory to come.
What’s rather wild about this is that A Star Is Born shares its awards season struggles with the only other two movies that have joined it on every single major nominations list — Black Panther and BlacKkKlansman.
As awards expert Erik Anderson points out here, these three movies have hit every major benchmark of the season so far, unlike other films (Green Book, Bohemian Rhapsody, etc.), which have missed one or even two benchmarks. But none of the three ostensible frontrunners have converted their success with nominations into major wins, which is rather unprecedented.
The season is still young. I’d still bet on A Star Is Born winning Best Picture at the Oscars. But the Golden Globes have given me considerable pause. The movie needs to take off at some point — and it hasn’t yet. —TV
Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma — Netflix’s big play for a Best Picture nomination at the Oscars — wasn’t eligible for Best Drama at the Golden Globes because the rules for the Globes specify that Best Picture nominees must be in English, and a foreign language feature is only eligible in the foreign language category.
But Roma won that foreign language category, and Cuarón won Best Director, too, becoming the second Mexican director in a row to earn the honor (following Guillermo del Toro in 2018 for eventual Oscar Best Picture winner The Shape of Water).
That’s no small feat for a film like Roma. Yes, it earned almost universal plaudits during its fall festival run, earning the Golden Lion at its Venice Premiere in addition to picking up the top award from many major critics’ groups, including New York, Los Angeles, and Toronto. But it’s in Spanish, it received only a limited theatrical run, and most of its viewers will ultimately see the slow, expansive, visually rich black-and-white film on Netflix.
Roma’s wins at the 2019 Golden Globes don’t indicate much about its chances at the Oscars. But Netflix has been pouring money into its awards campaign for the movie, and it’s a genuinely excellent film. So its two wins feel well-deserved, and may raise its visibility with potential audience members as well as with Academy voters — both in the foreign language feature category and the overall race for Best Picture. —AW
Winner: Green Book
Green Book may be the year’s most controversial awards frontrunner. It earned the coveted Grolsch People’s Choice Award during its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, which has often proven to be an indicator of a film’s Best Picture chances. And it’s an audience pleaser, a comedy about an unlikely friendship between an Italian driver from the Bronx and a black concert pianist on a tour through the segregated Deep South.
But it’s also been criticized by historians, critics, and the family of one of its subjects, Dr. Don Shirley, for putting a gloss on Shirley’s life, conforming to tired “white savior” tropes, and, perhaps most poignantly, practically ignoring (and sometimes eliding the history) of the “Green Books” for which it’s titled. Mahershala Ali, who won Best Supporting Actor at the Globes for playing Shirley, reportedly called Shirley’s family and apologized earlier this year.
Controversy, though, is rarely a deterrent for the Globes. (Last year’s best drama winner was Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, which sparked its own controversy for its portrayal of the South and of its black characters.) Green Book took home the most awards of any film at the Golden Globes this year: one for Ali; one for Best Screenplay; and one for Best Comedy.
So it seems to be cruising toward at least a few nominations when the Oscar nods are announced on January 22. And it’s easy to imagine Green Book — a comedy that seems to have its heart in the right place, and one that suggests we could fix racism if we’d all just talk to each other and maybe listen to some good music — winning Best Picture in an earlier era.
But the Academy, which is made up of thousands of actual working professionals in Hollywood rather than the 100 or so shadowy members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association that oversees the Golden Globes, seems to have changed its taste a bit in recent years, rewarding films like Spotlight, Moonlight, and The Shape of Water, which was about a romance between a woman and a fish-man.
Green Book feels out of date compared to those recent Best Picture winners — and it will be worth watching to see if it’s the sort of film the Academy wants to choose to represent the film industry in 2019. —AW
Winners: Bohemian Rhapsody
I don’t know how to sugarcoat this, so I’ll just say it: The Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody is easily one of the worst films I saw in 2018, and certainly the worst “prestige” film. And while I completely understand its ongoing popularity with audiences — fans will of course love a film about a beloved rocker, particularly one with lots of music, even if it drags in places and gets real fuzzy on the specifics — its ongoing existence in the awards conversation as a piece of filmmaking is, frankly, baffling.
Still, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association liked it enough to give it two Golden Globes: one for Rami Malek, who plays Mercury, and one for Best Drama. (Yes, the film was nominated as a drama, and not a comedy or musical.)
The movie was already notorious long before release, after director Bryan Singer was fired from the project after multiple on-set incidents of harassment and abuse and, apparently, just failing to show up for work. The team behind the film as well as its star Malek pointedly refused to mention Singer both during acceptance speeches and off stage, which helps underline the point.
Do the movie’s wins mean anything for its Oscar future? Hard to say. Bohemian Rhapsody was a hit with audiences, finishing 2018 just behind A Star Is Born with more than $193 million domestically, even if it struggled with critics and came under fire for multiple issues, including its handling of Mercury’s sexuality.
But both Malek and the film are likely Oscar nominees. And Malek is nominated for a Screen Actors Guild award, where he faces stiff competition. Whether he wins that award will likely indicate his Oscar chances. —AW
Loser: The HFPA’s reputation as an edgier organization than either the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences or Academy of Television Arts and Sciences
The HFPA’s reputation as “edgy” has always been a little bit bullshit, hugely bolstered by its willingness to let its major awards show become a showcase for drunken revelry. (There was so much bleeping during this year’s Golden Globes.) Its winners tend to be rather staid and conventional — exactly what you’d expect from an organization that even at its best often seems to exist solely to take a ridiculously early (and often incorrect) stab at predicting the Oscars.
If any bit of that reputation for edginess still existed, though, the 2019 Globes pretty much burned it to the ground. Yes, there were some good jokes, and yes, Bill Murray held up a massive golden goblet that had perhaps once been filled with booze when presenting the comedy movie category. But the two biggest movie winners — Green Book and Bohemian Rhapsody — were the very definition of very safe awards-bait movies. Even people who like those movies will admit they’re pretty safe, always conventional, and not particularly daring.
Now, to some degree, this safeness is an offshoot of an awards season when there’s no clear frontrunner, when one of the big nominees looks to be a superhero movie, and when most of the assumed major Oscar players fizzled either at the box office (Widows) or with critics (Vice), leaving awards bodies to cast about for other, wilder options. And in the case of the HFPA, that meant gravitating toward a couple of movies that felt a little like the biggest Oscar contenders of 1994.
There is nothing inherently wrong with this. But it does rather torpedo the HFPA’s status as a group of iconoclasts when the group gravitates toward the safest choices in the room, especially when films like BlacKkKlansman and The Favourite are sitting right there.
So begins the next phase of awards season. It’ll only last seven weeks, but we guarantee it will feel like seven months. —TV