Reflecting on the 2021 Golden Globes

Adam Feeley

As the virtual ceremony came to an end, it became clear that zoom awards show don’t work. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler failed to recapture the magic of their previous hosting gigs, as Fey hosted from New York and Poehler from Los Angeles. They are at their best when they are in the same room together, making jibes at the array of celebrities in front of them. They do what they can, but the show seemed to move along at a meandering pace, defined by technical issues and an assortment of weak jokes. So, what saved the night? Well, the joy of seeing particular talent finally gain recognition for their consistently great work, as well as some genuinely surprising winners.

Chloe Zhao seems poised for Oscar glory, with the final golden statue in sight as she became the first Asian woman ever to win a Golden Globe for directing. Her third feature film, Nomadland, won both Best Picture Drama and Best Director, with Zhao becoming the second woman to win the award for the latter. Whilst her film isn’t the flashiest of contenders, its quiet, intimate portrait of the nomadic community is a modern Americana road opus. Zhao’s almost documentarian style approach allows for deeply human moments, set against the sprawling backdrop of the American West.

…Kaluuya asserting himself as a singular talent capable of handling the most demanding roles with pathos and sensitivity

In terms of the acting winners, there was no surprise when Chadwick Boseman posthumously won for his final, moving performance in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom that means his Best Actor win at the Oscars seems almost inevitable. Daniel Kaluuya also appears set for Oscar glory after his much-deserved win for Judas and the Black Messiah, for his transformative, passionate portrayal of Fred Hampton, the Black Panther chairman for the Illinois chapter. Kaluuya’s performance, as well as the film itself, is a condemnation of racial injustice and forgotten history, with Kalayuaa asserting himself as a singular talent capable of handling the most demanding roles with pathos and sensitivity.

It was upsetting to see Promising Young Woman leave empty-handed

There were some genuine surprises. It was a joy to see Rosamund Pike win for her wickedly evil turn in I Care A Lot. Pike is now two for two playing the most devious, vivacious and still oddly charming blonde female anti-heroes. Amy Dunne (Gone Girl) and Marla Grayson (I Care a Lot) are certainly cut from the same cloth, with Pike brining amorality and magnetism to both roles.

So, were there any disappointments? It was upsetting to see Promising Young Woman leave empty-handed. Emerald Fennell’s comic, twisted feminist revenge thriller boasted a wickedly dark comic sensibility and gave way for Carey Mulligan to shine. Her character, Cassie Thomas, is a heroine for the ages, flawlessly taking down ‘nice’ guys who underestimate her at every turn. The film is an evolution for both feminist tales as well as female characters portrayed on screen. Strewn with bright candy colours and accompanied by a pop soundtrack, the film entraps you before sweeping you off your feet.

No risqué jokes, no shocking winners and no glaring snubs gave way to a meandering show…

The Crown dominated the television categories with four wins. Emma Corrin and Josh O’Connor both won for their bravo performances as Diana and Charles, respectively. Both brought depth as well as frustration to a pair of delicate, tightrope performances. Gillian Anderson was also a slam dunk win for her imposing, searing take on the Iron Lady. It might be the most expensive soap opera on TV –  providing juicy storylines, lavish sets and searing drama, and it is all the better for it.  

I was thrilled to see John Boyega win for his heart-breaking performance as Leroy Logan in Small Axe. Steve McQueen’s anthology series was both a celebration of the black British experience but also a condemnation of institutionalised racism, with McQueen proving that even on the small screen, he can tell cinematic, impactful stories. Boyega’s episode, Red, White and Blue, is an outcry for justice and the urgent need for humanity. The series manages to cover every aspect of daily life, from a house party to schooling, through the lens of West Indian immigrants, this anthology series oozes both conviction and community spirit.   

Catherine O’Hara also continued her awards dominance, finally being recognised for her hilariously eccentric performance as Moira Rose on Schitt’s Creek. It also came as no surprise that Anya Taylor-Joy won for The Queen’s Gambit, a series which rested almost entirely on her shoulders, and she delivered in spades.

To sum up the show overall, it was very safe. No risqué jokes, no shocking winners and no glaring snubs gave way to a meandering show, once again proving that virtual award ceremonies need to find a new format before it’s too late. 

Adam Feeley

Featured Image courtesy of Denise Jans via Unsplash. Image use license found here. No changes made to this image.

In article images courtesy of judasandtheblackmessiahfilm and thecrownnetflix via Instagram. No changes made to these images.

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