tv review

The 2019 Golden Globes Were Anything But a Rhapsody

“Come on, give us five stars!” Photo: Handout/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

The 76th annual Golden Globes Awards broadcast started out wobbly and ended with a shocker of a Best Motion Picture Drama win for Bohemian Rhapsody that sent film buffs — including, okay, me — into fits of hysterical outrage on social media. But for 75 percent of the ceremony’s three-hour-plus run time, brought to you as usual by Dick Clark Productions and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, it was mainly just boring.

The 2019 Globes were certainly a comedown from the previous two years. In 2017, we witnessed the first post-Trump-election Golden Globes and a barn burner of a Cecil B. DeMille Award acceptance speech from Meryl Streep, who closed by quoting the late Carrie Fisher and encouraging her colleagues to take their broken hearts and make them into art. Last year gave us the #MeToo Golden Globes, when the launch of the Time’s Up movement took center stage and Oprah Winfrey’s impassioned DeMille Award remarks kick-started a conversation about her potentially running for president.

By contrast, this year’s DeMille speech was delivered by Jeff Bridges, who, to be very clear, is a national treasure, but who also rambled endearingly and aimlessly for several minutes, which is the reason why everyone loves Jeff Bridges. Still: It didn’t make for the kind of moment everyone would be talking about the next day. The Time’s Up movement was represented — a number of red-carpet walkers sported ribbons or bracelets that said “Time’s Up x 2,” a reference to the organization’s effort to double the number of women in leadership positions and other roles where they are underrepresented. But the drumbeat around the movement was, perhaps inevitably, a bit more muted, albeit not entirely quiet. (Regina King, who won a Globe for her excellent work in If Beale Street Could Talk, made a commitment in her acceptance speech to push for male-female parity in all of her future projects.) The fact that the top film honor of the night went to Bohemian Rhapsody — which credits Bryan Singer, who has faced allegations of rape and sexual misconduct, as director even though he was fired before production was complete — suggests that Hollywood has not made nearly as much #MeToo progress as last year implied it might. (The win also suggests that everyone in the HFPA was high when they voted in that category. But I digress!)

Statements of a political nature were dialed back as well. The most political comment during the whole ceremony was a Dick Cheney joke from Christian Bale, who cheekily thanked Satan for inspiring his portrayal of the former VP in Vice, for which he won the Globe for Best Actor in a Motion Picture Comedy. A Dick Cheney joke in 2019 is taking it relatively easy on the GOP, all things considered. So you can bet your life that it will be a major talking point on Fox News throughout much of Monday.

This was supposed to be an exciting year for the Globes, especially because Andy Samberg and Sandra Oh, the first Asian-American to ever host the show, would be acting as emcees in a year when the Academy can’t even find someone without a homophobic Twitter history to preside over the Oscars. But aside from the sincere remarks Oh made about seeing all the reflection of diversity in the room, their opening monologue fell flat.

It was apparent that attendees were still taking their seats when things got underway and the initial jokes, including one about the aforementioned still-hostless Academy Awards, didn’t land. The only bit of the kickoff that sort of worked was a prearranged bit that involved Oh and Samberg kicking Jim Carrey, nominated for his work on Showtime’s Kidding, out of the movies section and into the “less prestigious” TV set of tables. But even that felt a little off the Zeitgeist. (Isn’t TV where the cool kids sit these days?)

The pair had better luck with their often amusing presenter intros. (“Now here with a surprising, unrehearsed takedown of Les Moonves is the cast of The Big Bang Theory,” Sandberg said before Kaley Cuoco, Jim Parsons, and Johnny Galecki walked onstage.) But their valiant efforts mostly served as a reminder of several awards-show truths: Even two likable performers are not necessarily suited to co-host an awards show together; good writing is just as important as game hosts; and the duo approach works much better when there is shared history between the two partners. (Please see the years that Amy Poehler and Tina Fey co-hosted for further information.) Not helping matters were a few noticeable technical hiccups, including the audible sound of producers counting down when the show returned from a commercial break and a trigger finger so anxious to bleep out bad words that at times it was difficult to figure out what presenters were actually saying. (The Golden Globes: So daring and edgy, it won’t let you hear the word “asshole.”)

The Globes has cultivated a reputation for its freewheeling, “everybody’s hella druuuunk” atmosphere, but throughout the evening, I kept thinking, “Wow, it’s too bad everyone isn’t more drunk.” The ceremony dragged, and several of the winners on both the TV and movie side — The Kominsky Method for Best TV Comedy, Michael Douglas for Best Actor in a TV Comedy for The Kominsky Method, the Best Motion Picture Comedy award for Green Book — were either expected, desperately dull, or both. (Notable exceptions: The extremely correct win for The Americans, which finally received the Best TV Drama award it has long deserved and that the Emmys never delivered; the Best Actress in a TV Drama award for Sandra Oh in Killing Eve; and the very predictable but nevertheless satisfying Best Song win for “Shallow,” the lone trophy that A Star Is Born would take home.)

The night’s best moments, as is always the case in any awards show, were spontaneous. And like the past two years, they came from women, including the aforementioned King; Olivia Colman, a winner for her scene-stealing work in The Favourite, who described how much fun she had eating while making the film; Carol Burnett, who received the first of what will be an annual lifetime achievement award for TV comedy named in her honor, and spoke beautifully about her career; and Glenn Close, who seemed shocked to the core when she won for her work in The Wife, yet still managed to give a moving and articulate speech about how important it is for women to seek personal satisfaction and achievement on their own terms. (“It was called The Wife,” she quipped. “I think that’s why it took 14 years to get made.”)

And yet, aside from The Americans, a show that certainly achieves 50/50 gender parity in its portrayal of married Russian spies, every series or movie that won a top prize last night — The Assassination of Gianni Versace, The Kominsky Method, Green Book, and Bohemian Rhapsody — focused primarily on men, albeit often marginalized ones. In particular, the two big film winners, both based on true stories, have been widely criticized for taking egregious liberties with the realities they portray, which is not an ideal look in a time of when there aren’t enough Pinocchio ratings to cover all the lies propagated by our national leaders.

“That’s our show,” Oh said at the end of the evening. “Please give us five stars,” added Samberg, an obvious Uber riff that also summed up the vibe of the evening. The Golden Globes, on one hand, asked us to applaud Hollywood for a year in which better representation resulted in big box-office numbers, thanks to films like Black Panther and Crazy Rich Asians, while the Hollywood Foreign Press produced a rickety awards show that celebrated movies like Green Book, whose take on race relations is about as nuanced as a very special episode of Diff’rent Strokes.

Five stars? After three-plus-hours and a closing win for Bohemian Rhapsody over If Beale Street Could Talk, Black Panther, BlacKkKlansman, and A Star Is Born, the only conclusion I could draw at the end of the night was that when it comes to this year’s Golden Globes ceremony, nothing really matters … nothing really matters to meeeee.

The 2019 Golden Globes Were Anything But a Rhapsody