The Winners And Controversies Of The 2021 Golden Globes

Seeped in controversy before it even began, this year’s Golden Globes proved to be a historic night for women. Stella Baricic reports on the ceremony’s key winners and controversies.

This year’s virtual 78th Golden Globe awards were no less entertaining (and controversial) than those of previous years. The night brought back a strange sense of normality after a year of social distancing and cancelled events, and (mostly) ended up rewarding the best of television and film. Here’s a look at the controversies and winners of the evening. 

The evening of the Golden Globes was seeped in controversy before it even began, with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association responsible for organising the event coming under fire due to lack of diversity among the nominees. Since I May Destroy You was snubbed of a nomination, the Foreign Press has widely been criticized for its all-white membership, as well as its dubious decision-making processes recently exposed by the Los Angeles Times.  Despite the Foreign Press’ bad rep, however, the final winners did in fact include most of the critics’ favourites. 

The winner of the night was undoubtedly Chloé Zhao with her film Nomadland , which not only won the award for Best Drama , but made Zhao only the second woman ever, after Barbra Streisand in 1983, to win the award for Best Director. It was a historic year for women in this esteemed category, as Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman) and Regina King (One Night in Miami) were also nominated, meaning 3 out of 5 nominees this year were women.

In the film department, other notable winners were Aaron Sorkin, who unsurprisingly claimed the award for Best Screenplay for The Trial of the Chicago 7, and Sacha Baron Cohen, who’s Borat Subsequent Moviefilm earned him both the award for Best Comedy and Best Actor in a Comedy. 

A gesture undoubtedly aimed at silencing some of the Foreign Press’ critics , the award for Best Actor in a Drama was given posthumously to Chadwick Boseman for his performance in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. The Best Actress in a Drama award went to Andra Day for her role in The United States vs Billie Holiday—a surprising result since Carey Mulligan was the favourite to win for her role in Promising Young Woman. Rosamund Pike, proving she can be both villain and badass, won Best Actress in a Comedy for her role in the black comedy thriller I Care a Lot

Daniel Kaluuya won Best Supporting Actor in a Film for his portrayal of the famous Black Panther activist Fred Hampton in Judas and the Black Messiah, and Jodie Foster took the female-equivalent for her role in The Mauritanian. While Minari was named Best Foreign Film as expected, Soul scooped up both the award for Best Animated Film, and earned Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross and Jon Batiste the award for Best Score. 

On the TV side, Netflix was once again successful in amassing a great number of awards, with The Crown extending its Golden Globe collection by four: Josh O’Connor (Prince Charles), Emma Corrin (Princess Diana) and Gillian Anderson (Margaret Thatcher) all secured an award, while the show also won Best TV Drama. Queen’s Gambit cemented its position as one of Netflix’s most-loved miniseries ever, winning Best Limited Series and gaining Anya Taylor-Joy her first Golden Globe.  

The hilariously well written Schitt’s Creek won Catherine O’Hara her Best Actress in a TV Comedy award and continued the 2020 Emmy streak by being named Best TV Comedy. Steve McQueen’s Small Axe secured John Boyega the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor in a Limited Series, while the Best Actor in a Limited Series surprisingly didn’t go to Hugh Grant, but landed in the lap of Mark Ruffalo for I Know This Much Is True

Lastly, the Hollywood icon and entertainment industry legend Jane Fonda received the honorary Cecil B DeMille Award, and used her acceptance speech, like many others on the night, to highlight the lack of diversity within the Foreign Press Association and the general racial inequality still present in entertainment. 

Award shows, especially the Golden Globes, always bring questions of diversity, inequality and subjective judgement. While this year’s nominees undoubtedly exposed gross racial inequality  within the Foreign Press, Hollywood award shows often feel overly self-congratulatory and disconnected from everyday reality. However, with the show being a virtual one this year, the glimpse into the living rooms of Hollywood’s crème de la crème perhaps made the Golden Globes more accessible. They reminded us that the pandemic has affected us all, no matter who we are. And while some of us were probably disappointed to see our favourite shows or films lose (or not even be nominated), the Golden Globes succeeded in proving one thing: the film and TV industry, and everything that comes with it, continues to survive in the face of adversity, and entertainment will prevail over the gloom and doom of the pandemic.  

Words by Stella Baricic

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