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Golden Globes 2021: As Chaotic As Anything Else in the COVID Age

by Caroline Renas

If there’s one word I’d use to describe the Golden Globes this year, it wouldn’t be classy, elegant or successful - it’d be chaotic. Sure, the Golden Globes are generally chaotic, whether it’s as a result of the available alcohol, Ricky Gervais, or just the lively energy at The Beverly Hilton Hotel. But this was a new and confusing level of chaos. Of course, pulling off an awards show in a virtual setting cannot possibly be an easy feat - but the September 2020 Emmy Awards had gone surprisingly well for our first look at an online award show, so I was holding up the same expectations for the Globes. There was a cringe-worthy amount of Zoom technicalities, cuts to bored or upset looking celebrities, and many more moments where I wanted to yell at the TV, “you’re not showing the right person! We can’t hear them!” Some stars dressed in pajamas and hoodies while others dressed in Dior and over a million dollars worth of jewelry.

The hosts, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, kicked off the show with an offbeat but decently successful monologue, which didn’t hold back from criticizing the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, their choices for nominations (Emily in Paris, The Prom and the problematic movie Music were all hit hard by Tina and Amy for being nominated), and their lack of diversity within their organization (out of the 74 members of the HFPA, none of them are black). I thought, “OK, this might work. They might just pull it off.” And yet, by the first award for Best Supporting Actor, the winner, Daniel Kaluuya, was muted for the first half of his speech. The poor issues with WiFi and audio continued throughout the show, and it was both amusing and cringey to watch. While it wasn’t what I wanted, the chaos of the show felt a bit comforting as it kept up with the pandemonium that everyone’s faced virtually for the last year.

The show itself had some expected wins - The Crown and Schitt’s Creek led the way in the best Television Series categories, and movies like Nomadland won, as expected. Obviously, due to COVID, there are fewer releases within the movie industry, so the competition was less than last year’s show. I never thought I would live in a world where Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm would be winning Golden Globes (and is being considered for a Best Picture nod at the Academy Awards), but since March of last year, our world’s been turned upside down. I was happy to Chloe Zhao, the director of Nomadland win for Best Director, because it was long overdue for a woman to win the award. Zhao is the second woman to win this award, with the first woman to win in this category being 38 years ago. As expected, the Netflix mini-series with over 63 million household viewers, The Queen’s Gambit, won for Best Limited Series with the lead, Anya Taylor-Joy winning for Best Actress in this category. There were a few unexpected wins as well, such as Jason Sudeikis giving an impromptu and confused speech for winning Best Actor in a Comedy Series, and newcomer Andra Day (a San Diego native) winning Best Drama Actress, beating out established, award-winning actresses such as Frances McDormand and Viola Davis. Jane Fonda won the Cecil B. DeMille Award, using her acceptance speech not as a thank you, but as a way to call out the lack of diversity within the HFPA and honor the diverse and eye-opening TV shows and movies she watched throughout the past year. Norman Lear won the Carol Burnett Award, after a career spanning decades in which he was, to quote, “woke before woke was a thing.”

One of the most emotional moments of the night was Chadwick Boseman’s wife accepting his win for Best Drama Actor in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom on behalf of him. Boseman, an extremely talented actor and icon to many, passed away at the age of 43 in August 2020 due to cancer.

Look, the 2021 Golden Globes were a mess - the show felt disorganized and unplanned, with its odd camerawork and technical difficulties - and while it was somewhat amusing, it also gave me second hand embarrassment to see the poor connection and disconnected audio that attenders dealt with. Obviously, with the stay-at-home orders and the substitution of streaming for movie theaters, most of the excitement for these awards has gone down this year. Is it the best awards show I’ve ever seen? No, absolutely not. But in the age of the pandemic, these award shows can keep us on track and remind us of a time before COVID, and the messy virtual platform for them gives me hope and excitement for a time when award shows can go on as they normally do.


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