In any given year, awards-season viewers are doing some combination of reveling in the booze-filled loosie-goosey nature of the Golden Globes while bemoaning the ostensible arbitrariness of many of its nominees and winners. Do you recall the movie Salmon Fishing in the Yemen? (Three nods in 2012, including best picture.) And really, The Kominsky Method beat out shows like Barry and The Good Place for best TV drama in 2019? How?!
The mood going into this year's Globes ceremony was different, however, and not just because the producers had Covid-related logistics to work out for a mostly virtual event. Just a few days earlier, the Los Angeles Times published two investigations looking into the inner workings of the mysterious Hollywood Foreign Press Association, an organization of 87 "journalists" who vote on the awards. Those exposés unveiled a number of details which suggest the Globes are more frivolous (and corrupt) than even the most cynical among us may have considered. Among the reveals: a number of HFPA members were fabulously flown in to France and wined and dined for a set visit to Emily in Paris, the wildly popular but critically reviled show which received three head-scratching nominations. Also, there are currently zero Black members in the HFPA.
On Sunday night, the ceremony addressed the diversity PR nightmare head-on, first via the opening banter between returning co-hosts Amy Poehler and Tina Fey, who were broadcast from the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills and the Rainbow Room in New York City, respectively. Sprinkled in between jokes about the differences between movies and television and an acknowledgement of the pandemic first responders in the audience, were cracks about the HFPA's membership ("around 90 international—no Black—journalists," a couple of whom "might be ghosts") and a more serious admission that worthy Black performances and creators were overlooked this year.
And a bit later in the evening, three members of the HFPA emerged from obscurity to pledge that the organization felt bad about all the negative publicity and would commit to doing better about inclusion going forward. (There was no mention of whether or not all-expenses paid trips to fancy cities on a Hollywood studio's dime was also being reconsidered.)
Once the awards-giving kicked off, it was often a bumpy ride. While presenters appeared in person in either New York or L.A., nominees attended remotely from their respective homes. The potential for technical chaos was realized almost immediately, when Daniel Kaluuya, who won the first award of the night for his role as Fred Hampton in Judas and the Black Messiah, couldn't be heard while giving his acceptance speech. After a few moments, presenter Laura Dern noted the difficulties and attempted to quickly wrap up and move to the next segment; luckily, Kaluuya was able to jump back in, this time with sound in check, and deliver typically charming remarks.