Golden Globes: A scathing host, impassioned appeals and history-making wins

Despite widely expected triumphs for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Fleabag and Succession, a few jaw-dropping upsets (wins for 1917, nothing but kind words for Martin Scorsese) kept the night somewhat surprising. 

Foul-mouthed Gervais, eloquent Williams deliver memorable moments

Golden Globes host Ricky Gervais sparked awkward laughs and grimaces from his audience at The Beverly Hilton Hotel, in Beverly Hills, Calif., with his quips about Jeffrey Epstein, a bawdy bit about Cats and linking The Two Popes to 'pedophile movies.' But via social media, the audience at home was loving it.  (Paul Drinkwater/NBCUniversal Media, LLC via Getty Images)

Think what you will of the 87-odd members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association who pick the Golden Globe winners, as the first major award show of the year it often sets the scene for the many star-studded galas to come.

Despite widely expected triumphs Sunday night for Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and TV/streaming offerings such as Fleabag, Succession and Chernobyl, a few jaw-dropping upsets (major wins for wartime drama 1917, nothing but kind words for Martin Scorsese) kept the night surprising. 

Here are some of the evening's highlights.

An expletive-laced intro

Beer glass at the ready and that familiar sneer on point, Ricky Gervais offered exactly what he's always done in his four past outings as Globes emcee: brutally skewered Hollywood. This time, he was especially explicit.

Martin Scorsese's height, Leo DiCaprio's penchant for youthful companions, Felicity Huffman's recent prison sentence — celebrities of all stripes were fodder for the British comedian's blistering monologue.

"Let's have a laugh at your expense. Remember they're just jokes. We're all going to die soon. And there's no sequel," Gervais told his celebrity-packed crowd.

He also transformed the traditional "keep your speeches brief" warning into a pointed admonishment blasting entertainment-world hypocrisy. 

"You know nothing about the real world," he said, blasting those pondering getting political in their speeches.

"Most of you have spent less time in school than [teen climate activist] Greta Thunberg. So if you win, come up, accept your little award, thank your agent and your God and f--k off."

Gervais also nodded toward the #MeToo movement, saying powerful entertainment executives in the room shared at least one thing: "They're all afraid of Ronan Farrow."

And lest you think he blew all his thunder in the monologue, Gervais even squeezed in a Harvey Weinstein joke near the very end — and snapped at those who booed him.

Comedian gets emotional

Saturday Night Live's Kate McKinnon typically inspires laughter, but on Sunday night she left quite a few people in the crowd feeling choked up as she spoke with emotion and humour about her younger years, when she was questioning her sexuality. It was 1997, McKinnon said, right around the time Ellen Degeneres came out publicly.

"She risked her entire life and her entire career in order to tell the truth, and she suffered greatly for it," McKinnon said as she presented a tribute to DeGeneres, who was there to claim a special honour.

"If I hadn't seen her on TV, I would've thought 'I could never be on TV. They don't let LGBTQ people on TV.' And more than that, I would've gone on thinking that I was an alien and that I maybe didn't even have a right to be here."

Beyoncé arrives

About an hour into the show, there was a veritable disturbance in the Force.

It turns out Queen Bey and Jay-Z had arrived (and apparently shared a table with DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi). 

Gervais be damned: Stars get political

Ricky who? Both Michelle Williams and Patricia Arquette, two wildly talented performers with a rep for addressing societal issues in acceptance speeches, declined to take their cues from Gervais. Each delivered pointed statements upon earning their latest Globe trophies: Williams for Fosse/Verdon and Arquette for The Act.

Arquette noted U.S. President Donald Trump's tweets amid escalating tensions with Iran, while Williams focused on women's rights. Both referenced the upcoming U.S. elections. 

Fosse/Verdon star Michelle Williams delivered an impassioned speech about the importance of women's rights. (Paul Drinkwater/NBCUniversal Media, LLC via Getty Images)

"I've tried my very best to live a life of my own making, not just a series of events that happened to me, but one that I can stand back and look at and recognize my handwriting all over... And I wouldn't have been able to do this without employing a woman's right to choose," Williams declared.

"So women, 18 to 118, when it's time to vote, please do so in your own self-interest. It's what men have been doing for years, which is why the world looks so much like them... Let's make it look more like us." 

References to the Australian wildfires ran throughout the ceremony, with Arquette, DeGeneres, Russell Crowe (speaking via message) and Cate Blanchett among those addressing the ongoing catastrophe and linking it to climate change. 

Even the typically reticent public speaker and Joker star Joaquin Phoenix got on the soapbox upon winning best actor in a dramatic film. The vegan performer thanked organizers for deciding to offer a 100 per cent plant-based meal Sunday night and urged his fellow stars to take more personal responsibility with environmentally minded changes.

"It's great to vote, but sometimes we have to take that responsibility on ourselves and make changes and sacrifices in our own lives. I hope that we can do that. We don't have to take private jets to Palm Springs," he said.

"I'll try to do better and I hope you will, too. Thank you so much for putting up with me."

History made

Sunday's Globes included several historic wins, including a surprising fact from best original song winners Elton John and Bernie Taupin, lauded for their new track (I'm Gonna) Love Me Again for Rocketman.

Bernie Taupin, left, and Elton John shared their first major award as a musical duo. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)

"[It's] the first time I've ever won an award with him, ever," John announced onstage, looking at his longtime songwriting collaborator. "We never won a Grammy. We never [won] anything together except for this, and I'm so happy."

John has won Grammys for his performances and composing, as well as an Oscar and Golden Globe with Tim Rice for Can You Feel the Love Tonight from The Lion King. Meanwhile, Taupin previously won a Globe alongside Gustavo Santaolalla for song A Love That Will Never Grow Old from Brokeback Mountain. 

"This is not just about a song we wrote for a movie. This is a song we wrote for a movie which deals with our relationship, and it's a relationship that doesn't happen very much in this town: it's a 52-year-old marriage. So thank you," Taupin said.

Hildur Gudnadottir is the first female composer ever to win, solo, the best original score category at the Globes. (Frederick J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)

Another musical watershed moment occurred when Joker composer Hildur Gudnadottir won best original score, making her the first woman ever to win the category solo and only the second ever to win at all (Lisa Gerrard and Hans Zimmer shared the win in 2001 for Gladiator). Incidentally, the Icelandic musician and composer recently earned an Emmy for her Chernobyl score, which is also in the running for a Grammy.

Meanwhile, with her win in dramedy The Farewell (for best actress in a musical or comedy film), Awkwafina has become the first woman of Asian heritage to win a lead film actress Golden Globe. Last year, Sandra Oh become the first to win for lead TV actress (for the drama Killing Eve). 

"If I fall upon hard times, I can sell this, so that's good," Awkwafina, whose real name is Nora Lum, quipped upon taking the stage. 

She also thanked her family and The Farewell director Lulu Wang for giving her "the chance of a lifetime."

Want more? Here are some standout lines from Golden Globe winners

Ramy Youssef

Ramy Youssef, surprise winner of best actor in a TV comedy or musical series for the Hulu show Ramy: "Look. I know you guys haven't seen my show. Everyone is like 'Is this an editor?'"

Bong Joon-ho

South Korean writer, director and producer Bong Joon-ho, whose film Parasite won best foreign-language film: "Once you overcome the one-inch barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films. Just being nominated along with fellow amazing international filmmakers was a huge honour. I think we use only one language: the language of cinema."

Parasite director Bong Joon Ho poses with the award for best foreign-language film. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)

Phoebe Waller-Bridge

Phoebe Waller-Bridge, upon her show Fleabag winning best TV comedy series: "Personally, I would like to thank Obama for putting us on his [best of 2019] list… As some of you may know, he's always been on mine — and if you don't get that joke, please watch season one of Fleabag really, really quickly."


Jessica Wong

Senior digital writer

Based in Toronto, Jessica Wong covers Canadian education stories for CBC News. She previously covered arts and entertainment news, both national and international, and has been a digital journalist for CBC since 2001. You can reach her at Jessica.Wong@cbc.ca.

With a file from The Associated Press


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