There was a time stars let down their hair at the Golden Globes, with the first awards of the season a good dress rehearsal for the Oscars and the over 75,000 glasses of free Champagne lubricating enough Dutch courage. Now, Hollywood’s glitziest night has stirred itself “woke”. On Sunday night, the best of TV and cinema of 2019 were first served the rapier-sharp tongue of anchor Ricky Gervais, and then an all-vegan menu (a Globes first). With Donald Trump rushing the US headlong into another blunder in West Asia, the best film surprise was a just-released war movie, 1917. The best actor no-surprise was Joaquin Phoenix’s anarchist and confused Joker who, in his acceptance speech, strewn with cuss words and casual informality, lectured Hollywood on climate change, private jets and responsible voting. The luminaries of Netflix’s hot contenders which were resoundingly shut out — Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro (The Irishman), Adam Driver (Marriage Story) — looked on unimpressed.
But if Phoenix stressed that he didn’t want to rock the boat, the women didn’t need reminding. Top honours again eluded them, while Olivia Colman won best TV actress for the solidly establishment Crown. Michelle Williams struck a few political notes, as Awkwafina became the first performer of Asian descent to win a Best Actress Musical or Comedy.
With no fire sizzling the red carpet either, the clouds parted for pure starshine for one brief moment. Brad Pitt, the Best Supporting Actor, wearing his blond splendour and dating status lightly, complimented his director Quentin Tarantino and thanked co-actor Leonardo Di Caprio as their Hollywood nostalgia film walked away with the most awards of the night. Pitt’s four-letter word of choice was simpler. “If you have the chance to be ‘kind’ to someone tomorrow, take it. I think we need it,” the actor said. Aah, for that forever fairytale, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.