Sunday evening’s lukewarm Golden Globes were muddled by meandering presenter bits and an awkward first-time host — but an early awards season narrative emerged, with Oppenheimer triumphing with five wins across several major categories.
First, that opening monologue: comedian Jo Koy never quite clicked with the crowd, getting a tepid response to requisite jokes about how few of the nominated projects he’d seen (just Beef), how long the movies were (Oppenheimer), jokes about prosthetics and genitalia (Maestro, Saltburn), and unexpected attractions (Ryan Gosling in Barbie).
Only a handful of presenters improved on his material, but for every funny gag from Kristin Wiig and Will Ferrell, there was a minute of painful rambling from Jared Leto or a stilted bit from Kevin Costner stalling an already-lengthy show.
Oppenheimer cleans up, Barbie gets its flowers
The awards themselves were a reprieve. The scales first tipped in favour of Oppenheimer with Robert Downey Jr.’s win in the best supporting category, which wasn’t quite a given thanks to stiff competition from Ryan Gosling’s audience-favourite turn as the ridiculously faux-macho Ken in Barbie.
The biopic about J. Robert Oppenheimer, the man who invented the atomic bomb, kept cleaning up from there.
Like Downey Jr., best director winner Christopher Nolan and best actor winner Cillian Murphy gave pitch perfect speeches — just the right amount of humour for the booze-infused Globes; just the right amount of poise for Oscar hopefuls. The film also won for Swedish composer Ludwig Göransson’s score.
The film’s friendly summer foe Barbie got its flower elsewhere. Director Greta Gerwig and producer-star Margot Robbie gave charming speeches when the film won the award for box office achievement (a prize which also gave the Globes an excuse to invite Taylor Swift). It was really a marketing award, after all — Robbie thanked the film’s fans for going to the movie theatre, “the greatest place on earth,” where it made over a billion dollars.
The film also won best original song for moody pop star Billie Eilish’s delicate What Was I Made For?, beating out other Barbie tracks like I’m Just Ken, the comedic 80’s-style power ballad sung by Gosling, and Dua Lipa’s disco nostalgic Dance The Night.
Canadians shut out, Poor Things upsets
The handful of Canadians competing in major categories were shut out.
Following London, Ont.-born Gosling’s loss, Korean Canadian writer-director Celine Song and her film Past Lives went home empty-handed — French courtroom drama Anatomy of a Fall beat it in two categories. Similarly, there was no win for Hamilton native Martin Short’s work on the TV comedy No Murders in the Building, nor for the late Indigenous Canadian musician Robbie Robertson’s Killers of the Flower Moon score.
Somewhat unexpectedly, Poor Things edged Barbie out both in the best musical or comedy category and in the best actress category (Emma Stone was chosen over Margot Robbie); while The Boy and The Heron won over Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse in the animated feature category.
The choices likely speak to the tastes of an international voting body seeking to distinguish themselves after a rocky few years, favouring Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos’s kooky odyssey and Japanese visionary Hayao Miyazaki’s adventure fantasy over the kaleidoscopic, All-American charms of Hollywood-made Barbie and Spider-Man.
Meanwhile, 70’s-nostalgic period comedy The Holdovers got some recognition in the acting categories, with star Paul Giamatti dedicating his award to teachers — he plays a strict boarding school professor in the film — and Da’Vine Joy Randolph winning for best supporting actress.
Lily Gladstone speaks Blackfeet during powerful moment
The most powerful moment of the night came with Lily Gladstone’s win for best actress in a drama.
Gladstone is reportedly the first Indigenous actress in Golden Globes history to win the award. She portrayed Molly Kyle in Martin Scorsese’s historical drama Killers of the Flower Moon, a real-life Osage woman deceived by a money-driven interloper played by Leonardo DiCaprio.
Gladstone, who is from Blackfeet Nation, gave her speech partially in the community’s language. She said she was grateful to be able to speak the language, noting that, “in this business, Native actors used to speak their lines in English and the sound mixers would run them backwards to accomplish Native languages on camera.”
Thanking her Alberta-born co-star, the Indigenous actress Tantoo Cardinal, as well as Osage Nation’s Chief Standing Bear, she dedicated the prize to “every little rez kid.”
Beef, The Bear and Succession nab pre-Emmy prizes
With the Emmy Awards just over a week away on Jan. 15, the Globes’ television categories were dominated by Netflix darling Beef (best limited series); high-octane restaurant dramedy The Bear (best comedy or musical series); and the outgoing champion of prestige TV Succession won best drama series following the show’s May finale.
A shocked Ayo Edebiri took to the stage to accept the prize for best actress in a comedy or musical series, one of few memorable moments in an evening deprived of them, giving a shoutout to the assistants who answer her emails. Her co-star Jeremy Allen White picked up an award in the counterpart category.
Beef stars Steven Yeun and Ali Wong won best actor and actress in a limited series, making history as the first Asian actors to win in their respective categories; while Succession actors Sarah Snook, Matthew Macfadyen and Keiran Culkin gave swan song acceptance speeches.