On January 5, 2020, Hollywood’s best and brightest gathered to pat themselves on the back in front of all of us for three hours. That is to say, the 77th Annual Golden Globes took place last night, where the Hollywood Foreign Press Association honored the best in film and television achievements from 2019. You can check out all the winners here, and what it might mean for the Oscars here. But the awards show ain’t just about raw data and speculation. It’s about seeing your favorite celebrities and storytellers walk up to a podium and do their best to give an emotional, entertaining, and succinct speech.
Some of last night’s speeches were intensely awkward (looking at you Quentin Tarantino, Joaquin Phoenix, and Renée Zellweger). But many of them were downright inspired. We’ve already covered the joys of Tom Hanks receiving his Cecil B. DeMille lifetime achievement award, but now, please enjoy the rest of the best speeches of the 2020 Golden Globes.
Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood
After winning the Golden Globe for Best Screenplay, Tarantino’s old Hollywood revisionist history epic Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood took the trophy for Best Picture Musical or Comedy. And stepping up to the mic to accept was… not Tarantino. “Sir Quentin is nothing if unpredictable,” began the film’s producer David Heyman. “A few seconds ago, he told me I was gonna speak.” Thus, Heyman, certainly not a household name like Tarantino for even film fans, began an endearingly mild, nervously charming speech. It was a delightful moment of authenticity cutting through the glitz and glamor, and a nice reminder that producers are just as important to a film’s path as writers, directors, and stars.
With the help of his faithful translator Sharon Choi, Bong Joon-ho took to the stage to accept the award for Best Foreign Language Film for Parasite. Switching between English and Korean, Joon-ho had many perfectly worded bon mots (including the perfect turn of phrase that there’s only a “one inch tall barrier of subtitles” separating American audiences from incredible foreign language films), but his final comment shook me: “I think we use only just one language: The cinema. Thank you.” No, Bong Joon-ho. Thank you.
1917 was likely the big upset of the night, winning Best Picture Drama and Best Director over more predictable choices like The Irishman and its director Martin Scorsese. And when 1917‘s director Sam Mendes took the stage to accept his Best Director prize, he chose his comments perfectly. He spoke about the importance of his film’s win as it relates to cinema (a one-shot WWI film with no movie stars is a risky one to make!) and as it relates to his personal story (his grandfather was a WWI vet!). Like his immaculately crafted film, everything Mendes said last night was perfectly put in place.
I love whenever a comedian wins an award, because they know the power of a disarming joke in a night that so often slides into self-seriousness. And Awkwafina, whose understated, celebrated turn in The Farewell won her Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy, came out swinging. She joked that she could sell her Golden Globe if need be. She dedicated the award to her dad, before snarking that she told him she would “get a job.” And she threaded in the sincerity of the moment perfectly, paying tribute to her director Lulu Wang, her costar Zhao Shuzhen, and her late mother. Awkwafina became the first Asian woman to win this Golden Globe last night, and her speech reminded us exactly how she broke through this needed-to-be-broken-through barrier.
Look: Laura Dern is perfect. Her performances are exquisite, her BDE (yeah I said it) is unparalleled, and her joie de vivre is palpable. So when she won Best Supporting Actress in Any Motion Picture for her work in Marriage Story, you know I was gonna be enraptured by whatever the heck she said. And she did not disappointing, delivering a barn-burner of a speech. Her joke about divorce lawyers finally getting the attention they deserve made me cackle IRL.
Brad Pitt wins Best Supporting Actor in Any Motion Picture for his work in Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood. He delivers a typically informal, utterly captivating speech, mesmerizing the room with his effortless movie star charms (including a lovely Titanic-themed dig at his costar Leonardo DiCaprio). He wraps up, done. Then, remembers something suddenly. Shouts “Hey!” at the applauding room, to recapture their attention. And tells us, “If you see a chance to be kind to someone tomorrow, take it. I think we need it.” Then briskly walks away. I mean, like… what am I supposed to do, not write that up?
Missing Link, Laika’s charming adventure-comedy about a dang sasquatch, was up against robust competition in the Best Animated Film field, including Toy Story 4 and Frozen 2. But it pulled out the win, surprising the heck out of its winners, writer/director Chris Butler and producer Arianne Sutner. Thus, they pulled out an emotional, nervous, downright lovely speech about the power of teamwork. And, Sutner made a delightful callback to Amy Poehler and Taylor Swift‘s delightful presentation jab.
Are you watching Ramy, Ramy Youssef‘s Hulu dramedy about modern life as the son of immigrants in America? Likely not. And so Youssef took his opportunity after winning the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a TV Musical or Comedy to lightly chide the audience: “Look, I know you guys haven’t seen my show.” The laughter erupting from this moment was essential, further cementing Youssef’s chops as a comedian who knows how to sense tension in a room, and knows exactly how to exploit it for laughs. Youssef’s speech was hilarious, casual, confident, and reminded us all that Egyptians love Michael Douglas.
Michelle Williams won Best Actress in a Limited Series or TV Movie for her sterling work in Fosse/Verdon, and used her platform to make an essential statement on women in the world. Without naming specific names or societal woes, Williams spoke on the importance of “choice” for women, with equal parts emotional engagement and stoic professionalism. It was an inspiring, captivating watch, one that electrified the room and will hopefully electrify folks thinking about such issues come election time.
During his typically apathetic, “edgy” monologue, host Ricky Gervais pointed out the hypocrisy of “woke” stars working for unethical companies like Apple, Amazon, and Disney, and urged them not to make any political statements during their speeches given their moral double standards. Upon winning Best Supporting Actress for any TV Presentation for her work in The Act, Patricia Arquette effectively told Gervais to bugger off. She got explicitly political, naming disasters happening currently, and begging her audience to be agents of change for the future of the planet. Yes, Gervais makes a point about actors working for dubious companies. But Arquette’s point — a point urging action rather than inaction — is better.
So, like… when are we gonna let Stellan Skarsgård host an awards show? Look at how friggin’ perfect this comedic story is, how it plays a joke to a hilt while also earnestly thanking his makeup artist on Chernobyl. Look at how he manipulates the room like an instrument, allowing just enough of a pause to make everyone nervous before nailing them with a broad impression. Look at how much joy he takes in his speech, particularly after the relentless non-joy of Gervais. #LetStellanSkarsgårdHostTheOscars begins now.
Kate McKinnon and Ellen DeGeneres
Ellen DeGeneres was awarded the Carol Burnett Award for lifetime achievement in television last night. Her award was presented by Saturday Night Live MVP Kate McKinnon, who used her time to tell a beautiful story on what it meant to watch DeGeneres come out on national television at a time when LGBTQ+ representation was scarce — threaded brilliantly with a joke about stealing clothes from DeGeneres. It was heart-growing television, serving the stage perfectly for DeGeneres to talk us through her life, her journey, and the importance of television representation and joy. Plus — her joke about her “husband” made the entire room laugh out loud for a full minute. What a pro!