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75th Golden Globes Oprah Highlights Critic’s Notebook


If a presidential election were held today, Oprah Winfrey would receive 100 percent of the vote from the group of TV critics with whom I watched the Golden Globes. She’d get around 98 percent of the presidential vote from my Twitter feed. In the aftermath of the 75th Golden Globes telecast, I’d wager that a Winfrey/McDormand ticket with promised cabinet-level positions for Natalie Portman, Barbra Streisand and Viola Davis would probably scoop up around 90 percent of the vote in the greater Los Angeles area. Maybe more.

Of course, it was this time last year when it looked possible that Meryl Streep might be simultaneously elected president, senator and pope, all off the momentum of her own Golden Globes speech. Instead, what she got was an insecure tweet from Donald Trump and an Oscar nomination for Florence Foster Jenkins.

It’s possible that the Golden Globes might have developed the unlikely ability to produce irrational exuberance from a small, specific audience. Oprah’s speech might have produced tears at my Globes gathering, but that doesn’t mean that once the dust clears she’s going to flirt with running for elective office of any size, much less the presidency. She is, after all, largely just a wealthy TV personality with no political experience being currently buoyed by an appearance on NBC. What chance could she possibly have of becoming president?

Tomorrow, though, we’ll talk about Oprah, discuss the passionate way she recounted her own story and, hopefully, we’ll remember to talk about the late Recy Taylor, whose crushing experience Oprah amplified on Sunday night. Some people will complain about Oprah using an entertainment honor for political purposes when she said nothing vaguely political, because heaven help us all if this is political:

“I’ve interviewed and portrayed people who have withstood some of the ugliest things life can throw at you, but the one quality all of them seem to share is an ability to maintain hope for a brighter morning, even during our darkest nights. So I want all the girls watching here now to know that a new day is on the horizon,” Oprah said, closing her speech. “And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say, ‘Me too’ again.”

We’ll see if we’re still talking about it in a week or two weeks or 2020.

For tonight, it was a great speech and really a great capper for an awards show that tried really, really hard to be relevant and frequently succeeded, so much so that the handing out of actual shiny awards felt consistently like an intrusion at a rally. Like, “Oh right. We still have to see who lobbied the oddballs in the HFPA most effectively.”

Some highlights and some lowlights from Golden Globes night:

*** Seth Meyers had a great monologue — and that was the bulk of his job. He occasionally popped up thereafter, and some of his introductions got smiles, some got groans. He established the tone of the evening and established the ability to make jokes in the face of three dire months that have left many in Hollywood confused and shellshocked.

*** The show suffered from a lack of a cohesive presenter strategy. Jennifer Aniston and Carol Burnett were just amazing together. Shirley MacLaine and Emma Stone were a good pairing. Why not go for more of that? Also, in reliable awards show fashion, after around an hour, things started running long and the middle of the show was basically gutted, with one presenting duo after another skipping patter entirely and one winner after another rushing through speeches.

*** There were great speeches. Nicole Kidman was probably responsible for a goodly chunk of the show’s overrun, but she gave a good speech. Guillermo del Toro, who would probably speak for two hours if you let him, was sincere and enthusiastic, as was Sterling K. Brown, who can’t take a podium without melting hearts. Frances McDormand gave the impression of being so devil-may-care that the NBC censors got confused. She said “shite” and they let it slide, but then overcompensated by thinking parts of “tectonic shift” and “Fox Searchlight” were profane. Laura Dern used the phrase “promote restorative justice” and said people “speaking out without the fear of retribution is our culture’s new north star.” And Amy Sherman-Palladino began her speech with a giddy “Oy, the Spanx!”

*** Let’s go back to Dern, because on the evening of #MeToo and Time’s Up, she was, like Oprah, one of Sunday’s speakers who focused on the way forward, on the changes in attitude and behavior that will be necessary for progress to be made. She also deserves a cabinet-level post in the Winfrey/McDormand White House.

*** There were good off-the-cuff moments. My co-watchers were sure that Natalie Portman’s “And here are the all-male nominees” quip before reading the director nominees wasn’t scripted. Viewers responded enthusiastically. In contrast, Jessica Chastain and Geena Davis had way-too-scripted lines about the pay gap that barely got noticed either in the room or online.

*** As usual, the Golden Globes treated TV like a second-class citizen. How much time could have been saved if Elisabeth Moss and the team from The Handmaid’s Tale had been sitting somewhere in proximity to the stage, since they were close-to-inevitable winners. The Big Little Lies gang should have been perched permanently in the wings as their near-sweep in the TV movie/miniseries category should only build anticipation for the show’s upcoming second season. I really like The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and I love Rachel Brosnahan’s performance in it, but the HFPA has made it impossible not to compare this set of slightly surprising Amazon wins to past Globes embrace of Amazon sleepers and just chalk it up to, “Yes, the Globes sure love their Amazon shows.”

*** There were things that were uncomfortable. A Pixar movie won and the directors couldn’t thank John Lasseter by name. The generally inspirational presence of Kirk Douglas had people making Google suggestions involving Natalie Wood. There were often whiplash changes in tone between pointed speeches by female winners and relatively frivolous speeches by male winners that didn’t entirely undermine the message of the show, but definitely pointed to gaps between advocates and allies.

*** Somehow, Allison Janney had never won a Golden Globe. Now she has. I really feel like there’s an equilibrium that this restores that had been too long lacking. Sterling K. Brown’s win, Aziz Ansari’s victory and, of course, Oprah’s triumph were milestones of more significant sorts.

*** Tommy Wiseau.

Editor’s note: The Golden Globe Awards show is produced by Dick Clark Productions, which shares a parent company with The Hollywood Reporter.

Check out The Hollywood Reporter and Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s official aftershow, live on Twitter.

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