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Film and TV

Golden Globes come with faulty connections, mixed messages about diversity

In this video grab issued Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021, by NBC, nominees in the category best actor in a motion picture, musical or comedy, react as Sacha Baron Cohen, top left, is announced as the winner for "Borat Subsequent Moviefilm" at the Golden Globe Awards. (NBC via AP)

The Golden Globes are known as the boozy awards show that’s generally on the verge of devolving into chaos, and Sunday’s telecast had that exact energy - but it turns out that kind of vibe is much more fun in person. When it’s a virtual award show, with all the A-list celebrity nominees on Zoom screens reminding you eerily of your office meetings and important life events that have been relegated to your laptop, it’s simultaneously frustrating, depressing and just plain awkward.

In the first 10 minutes of the ceremony, Daniel Kaluuya won best supporting actor in a motion picture for “Judas and the Black Messiah” and launched into an enthusiastic acceptance speech - only to have the truly relatable experience of being muted, so no one could hear a thing he said.

“As you can see, we unfortunately have a bad connection,” presenter Laura Dern said, laughing nervously. “We apologize for that technical problem and send all of our congratulations to Daniel on his Golden Globe win.” Five seconds later, the issue was fixed and Kaluuya appeared back on the screen, asking, “Am I on? Is this on? Is this on?”

The audio problems persisted throughout the three-hour telecast as the sound occasionally went in and out and stars talked over one another during brief segments leading into commercials, when all the nominees were forced to make uncomfortable small talk from their remote locations. (“I don’t have my glasses on, so I can’t actually tell who I’m speaking to,” Michelle Pfeiffer admitted to her fellow nominees for best actress in a motion picture, comedy or musical.) Blurry Zoom screens, along with strange lighting and oddly close-up shots, led many on social media to wonder whether the Globes producers just remembered they had to throw together a remote show this weekend.

The Globes were already under increased scrutiny in the form of a recent Los Angeles Times investigation into the makeup and operations of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the 87-member organization that determines the awards - which the Times revealed had no Black members. After an uproar, the HFPA sent out three board members for a brief segment in which they assured the audience they’re figuring out how to fix their issues: “We recognize we have our own work to do. . . . We must have Black journalists in our organization,” said Helen Hoehne, the group’s vice president.

Celebrities weighed in as well. “It’s great to be Black at the Golden Globes - BACK at the Golden Globes,” presenter Sterling K. Brown said dryly. When “Schitt’s Creek” continued its award show domination, earning best TV series, comedy or musical, star and co-creator Dan Levy spoke about how a major message on the show was inclusion. “In the spirit of inclusion, I hope by this time next year, this ceremony reflects the true breadth and diversity of television being made today,” he said. “Because there is so much more to be celebrated.”

While the organization faced well-deserved criticism, the awards reflected a notable amount of diversity, including Kaluuya, John Boyega for best actor in a limited series for Amazon Prime’s anthology series “Small Axe,” and Andra Day as best actress in a motion picture, drama, for “The United States v. Billie Holiday.”

This image released by Searchlight Pictures shows Frances McDormand in a scene from the film ’Nomadland. ’ (Searchlight Pictures via AP)

And “Nomadland’s” Chloé Zhao became the first Asian woman ever to win best director, motion picture, and the second woman in Globes history to triumph in the category. (The other was Barbra Streisand for “Yentl” in 1983.)

Chadwick Boseman, who died in August at age 43 after being diagnosed with colon cancer four years earlier, was awarded best actor in a drama for his role in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” leading to the show’s most emotional moment with a tearful acceptance speech by his wife, Simone Ledward Boseman.

In this video grab issued Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021, by NBC, Taylor Simone Ledward Boseman, right, accepts the award for best actor in a motion picture drama for ’Ma Rainey's Black Bottom ’ on behalf of her late husband Chadwick Boseman, pictured on Screen at left, at the Golden Globe Awards. (NBC via AP)

The movie categories, considered a major predictor of the upcoming Academy Awards, were fairly spread out. “Nomadland,” starring Frances McDormand as a widow who lives out of her van as she travels the American West looking for work, also won the best motion picture, drama.

Pixar’s heart-wrenching “Soul” won for animated film and original score. “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” the drama centered on anti-Vietnam War activists charged with inciting a riot at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, earned Aaron Sorkin a best screenplay trophy. “Minari,” about a Korean American family that moves from California to rural Arkansas, triumphed in the best foreign film category, leading to one of the best moments of the night, when Lee Isaac Chung’s young daughter leaped into the director’s arms after the film won.

On the TV side, Netflix’s “The Crown” earned three trophies: Emma Corrin and Josh O’Connor took home prizes for their portrayals of Princess Diana and Prince Charles, respectively, while Gillian Anderson earned best supporting actress for playing Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Netflix, continued to dominate as “The Queen’s Gambit” was named best limited series or TV movie, while lead Anya Taylor-Joy landed best actress in the same category.

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler hosted the ceremony for the fourth time (they previously hosted 2013 through 2015) and were on separate coasts, with Fey at the Rainbow Room in New York and Poehler at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles, which is where the Globes usually takes place. They repeatedly joked about the strangeness of the experience - and gently roasted Jason Sudeikis, who accepted his actor in a TV comedy or musical trophy for Apple TV Plus’s “Ted Lasso” in a sweatshirt. (Audience members can buy that hoodie at NBC.com/globesfashion, Fey and Poehler joked.)

In this video grab issued Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021, by NBC, hosts Tina Fey, left, from New York, and Amy Poehler, from Beverly Hills, Calif., speak at the Golden Globe Awards. (NBC via AP)

They also noted the aforementioned problems within the Globes that were raised in the Times piece. “Look, a lot of flashy garbage got nominated, but that happens,” Poehler said. “But a number of Black actors and Black-led projects were overlooked.”

After adding that award shows are a scam (“invented by Big Red Carpet,” Poehler added), they urged the HFPA to prioritize inclusivity. Fey wondered whether the HFPA did not previously get the memo on diversity “because your workplace is the back booth of a French McDonald’s.”

The HFPA has been the subject of controversies and scandals for decades, and it’s a longtime Hollywood joke (based in reality) that studios who pay for elaborate press junkets and grant HFPA members access to A-list stars stand a better chance to win trophies. This, along with the minuscule voting body, usually leads to absolutely bizarre and often-mocked nominations and winners, with a lack of diversity.

In 2016, host Ricky Gervais told the crowd in his opening monologue that there was no way actors would ever skip the chance to win a Golden Globe, “particularly if their film company has already paid for it.”

The Times piece was spurred by a lawsuit filed by Norwegian journalist Kjersti Flaa, who was denied membership in the HFPA, and alleged that “the tax-exempt organization operated as a kind of cartel, barring qualified applicants - including herself - and monopolizing all-important press access while improperly subsidizing its members’ income,” the Times wrote, adding that the group paid $2 million to its members over the last fiscal year.

The suit was dismissed in November and the HFPA denied wrongdoing, but the Times interviewed current and former members who hoped the suit would result in changes to the organization, which one member described as “archaic.”

This year, the strangest Globes nominees included a best TV comedy/musical nod for “Emily in Paris,” the much-derided Netflix series that granted HFPA members a stay at a fancy French hotel to visit the set, according to the Times. (It lost to “Schitt’s Creek.”)

The other biggest head-scratcher was a best film comedy/musical nomination for “Music,” the directorial debut for singer-songwriter Sia, even though it has been panned for its portrayal of an autistic character. (It lost to “Borat Subsequent Movie Film.”)

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