The 81st Golden Globe Awards

Image Credit: Peter Dutton via Wikimedia Commons

With the arrival of awards season, John O’Connor overviews the first major awards ceremony in all its glory and controversy.

As the curtain gets drawn over the 81st Golden Globe Awards, the televised award season is officially underway. From the beginning of the ceremony, it was clear that the night ahead would be vastly different from its predecessors. During his speech for the first award of the night, Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture winner Robert Downey Jr claimed the prize for his work in Oppenheimer and stated; “Golden Globe journalists, thanks for changing your game, therefore changing your names.” This statement references the reshuffling of the Hollywood Foreign Press’s (HFP) voting body and its lack of Black voting members which had forced NBC to cease broadcasting of the awards. 

The increased diversity of the HFP was reflected in the diversity of this year’s nominees and winners with shows, including the predominantly Korean American-led limited series Beef winning Best Limited Series, Anthology Series or TV Movie and leads Ali Wong and Steven Yeun taking home the statuettes for Best Actor/Actress in a Limited Series. The show made history as the first show created and starring Korean Americans to win the award. This overdue wave of diversity also swept into the Best Actress in a Motion Picture category, which has quickly become the most competitive and heavily stacked category of the year. Notably, award season revelation Native American actress, Lily Gladstone received the award for her masterful portrayal of Molly Burkhart in Martin Scorsese’s western epic, Killers of the Flower Moon. Gladstone’s award marked the only win for Scorsese’s underperforming period drama which had seven nominations. 

This overdue wave of diversity also swept into the Best Actress in a Motion Picture category, which has quickly become the most competitive and heavily stacked category of the year. Notably, award season revelation Native American actress, Lily Gladstone received the award for her masterful portrayal of Molly Burkhart in Martin Scorsese’s western epic, Killers of the Flower Moon.

The best actress race continued in the Comedy/Musical category with Emma Stone winning her second Golden Globe for her playful yet grounded performance in Yorgos Lanthimos’s Poor Things, an unorthodox and modern retelling of Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein (1818). Both Emma Stone and Lily Gladstone’s wins cement both actresses as the front runners for the final prize at the Academy Awards in March, with performances like Carey Mulligan in Maestro and Annette Benning in Nyad losing momentum and propelling both Stone and Gladstone towards the stage on Oscars night. 

Stone’s performance was not the only win for the dark comedy, as Poor Things triumphed over films like The Holdovers and Barbie and surprised many by winning Best Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical. The whimsical film’s win over Barbie has not gone unnoticed and will undoubtedly affect voters in the weeks to come. The billion-dollar picture won only two awards including Best Original Song for Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell and winning the very first award for Best Cinematic and Box Office Achievement. Breaking records with its nine nominations, Greta Gerwig’s screen-adapted tale of the beloved toy only receiving two awards will be decried as a mistake by many yet it is a reminder to voters of the other films in play. 

Oppenheimer prevailed, as many fans had anticipated, as the film garnered the most wins including Best Actor, Supporting Actor, Score, Director and Best Picture. Christopher Nolan’s first Golden Globe win for Best Director allowed him to pay tribute to the late Heath Ledger and all the cast and crew involved in the box office hit. Oppenheimer’s win for Best Picture also puts the film on a very promising path to the Academy Awards. In the TV categories, Succession dominated once again taking home four awards; Best Supporting Actor for Matthew McFadyen, Best Actor for Kieran Culkin, Best Actress for Sarah Snook and Best Drama Series. HBO’s final season of the hit show came to a satisfying yet bittersweet conclusion which was rightfully rewarded during this week's ceremony. 

Three of the six Best Actor nominees hailed from our very own Ireland; Cillian Murphy, Barry Keoghan, and Andrew Scott. Murphy’s victory is an undeniable triumph for Irish talent going forward not only during this awards season but for the future of Hollywood. The fact that three actors who were typically stuck in the supporting categories took up half the spots in the lead category marked a new wave of Irish actors at the forefront of international cinema and entertainment. 

The fact that three actors who were typically stuck in the supporting categories took up half the spots in the lead category marked a new wave of Irish actors at the forefront of international cinema and entertainment.

The shock of audience favourites including Celine Song’s Past Lives and Bradley Cooper’s sophomore film Maestro underperforming was only exceeded by the shock and discomfort invoked by this year’s host, comedian Jo Koy, who was asked to perform only two weeks before the ceremony. The nature of his comments on the Barbie movie and on the private lives of some of the attendees, including Taylor Swift and Robert De Niro, led many to question the extent of his preparation leading up to the event and whether the hosting could have been led by a more tactful host. Since the ceremony aired, various celebrity reactions have gone viral and further fuelled the controversy. 

The 81st Golden Globes will ultimately be remembered for their change in direction, for how they brought forth historic wins, viral moments, an unfortunate host, and at they will, at the very least will last in our memory as one of the most exciting awards shows yet.