Essays · Movies

The Golden Globes Were Pretty Weird This Year

The good and the bad of the show that heavily honored ‘Green Book’ but also Alfonso Cuarón.
Bohemian Rhapsody X
Twentieth Century Fox
By  · Published on January 7th, 2019

The Golden Globe Awards can be an unequivocally contentious affair. The ceremony, which kicks off the new year with a good dose of awards season discourse and Film Twitter’s spiciest, most aggressive hot takes, can be as controversial as it is a general crowd pleaser (just take a look at the Original Song category).

However, this year’s Golden Globes did play out in a considerably odd fashion, with some of its biggest winners seemingly coming out of left field. That said, predictability still manages to snake its way through the snubs and surprises. And there are definitely celebratory moments throughout the Globes, even if we’re also left scratching our heads at times.

Roma reigned

Let’s start this off easy. Alfonso Cuarón‘s deeply personal feature Roma has marked a fairytale return for the filmmaker after the stunning ambition of Gravity five years ago. Firstly, Cuarón took home the honor of Best Foreign Language film. I’m definitely pleased with the result, even if Hirokazu Kore-eda‘s Shoplifters, in particular, would have been a worthy winner, too.

Meanwhile, Cuarón himself has always felt like the clear frontrunner in the Best Director category in my eyes. Of course, there has been some competition with well-promoted fan favorites like Bradley Cooper‘s A Star is Born, but consider Roma‘s conscientious craftsmanship and undeniable personal depth. Whether Cooper pulls an upset further down the line in awards season is anyone’s guess, but this marks an auspicious start for Cuarón.

The Bohemian Rhapsody and Green Book situation

On one hand, Bohemian Rhapsody and Green Book were indeed celebrated for the best part of their respective narratives: their lead performances. Rami Malek won the Globe for Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama thanks to his chameleonic turn as Queen frontman Freddie Mercury. Mahershala Ali‘s sharp, empathetic portrayal of Don Shirley netted him the Best Supporting Actor nod.

Still, awarding Green Book Best Screenplay and Best Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy, thus making it the most decorated feature of the night, is a confusing thing to behold. For one thing, in both categories, it won over the bawdy and vibrant Yorgos Lanthimos feature The Favourite, a film that’s a truly entertaining exercise of off-the-wall filmmaking. Apart from Green Book‘s issues with fidelity (resulting in Ali himself apologizing to the Shirley family directly), the film is relatively tame.

By that same token, Bohemian Rhapsody, already long-tainted with problems behind-the-scenes — especially regarding its ex-director Bryan Singer — has itself been criticized for its inaccurate portrayal of aspects of Mercury’s life, notably his sexuality. Or rather, a lack thereof in its treatment of it, despite the film being about one of the most important queer icons in history.

Obviously, picking biographical dramas apart for strict historicism will always be a slippery endeavor when Hollywood often takes huge liberties with their source material. Nevertheless, the layers of dispute engulfing both biopics, coupled with their middling returns as pretty generic movies overall, didn’t give either movie an edge in the awards race. Until the Globes.

Actorly achievements, upsets and all

The actor wins are more or less easier to be on board with, across the big and small screen alike. Another one of Christian Bale‘s intense transformations has been awarded something? I’ll get behind that. Glenn Close, Olivia Colman, and Regina King make up a trifecta of poise and brilliance in their respective Best Actress categories.

Sandra Oh is back on the Globes stage 13 years after winning Best Supporting Actress for Grey’s Anatomy. This time, her buzzworthy role in Killing Eve has rightfully earned her a Best Actress trophy. Darren Criss and Rachel Brosnahan delivered more recent Emmy repeats at the ceremony for The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, respectively (though the latter is for a newer season than the Emmys’ honored her for).

That said, Matthew Rhys surprisingly lost out to Richard Madden for the UK underdog series BodyguardThe Americans did win Best Drama, at least. Similarly, King’s nomination for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film for Seven Seconds did not come to fruition. Neither did the nominations for Barry crew.

Instead, The Kominsky Method, a relatively fresh Netflix series, broke onto the scene in a big way, winning Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy and Best Actor – Television Series Musical or Comedy for its star, Michael Douglas.

But one question burns with the fire of a thousand suns: where was the Sharp Objects love? Patricia Clarkson played one of the most infuriating and fascinating women on TV, but what about Amy Adams? In the same way that nominating Arrival at the Oscars a couple of years ago without acknowledging Adams’ performance makes no sense, Sharp Objects works exceptionally well because she is the magnetic, messy center of the entire mystery.

I’ll include Jarett Wieselman’s excellent commentary on the matter for good measure:

But superheroes still win

Obviously, Black PantherFSR’s movie of the year! — being unduly snubbed in basically every category that it was nominated in is not what I’m talking about. Rather, it’s now much easier to be stoked over Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse‘s Oscar chances now that Sony has broken through a strong list of nominees and won Best Animated Feature Film. Pushing past the Pixar and Disney juggernauts Incredibles 2 and Ralph Breaks the Internet, as well as more fringe but definitely laudable fan favorites Mirai and Isle of Dogs is no mean feat.

Special mentions

Music is all that’s left to mull over, and it’s actually also a mixed bag. Justin Hurwitz‘s Best Original Score win for First Man is worth celebrating, given how much of his music informs the implicit storytelling of Damien Chazelle’s Neil Armstrong film to such a poignant degree. But on the flip side, I’ve heard “Shallow” from A Star Is Born enough times (extensively in malls, on commutes…) to discern that it’s really not as memorable as “All the Stars” from Black Panther. And if we’re going super commercial with the Original Song win, then the latter would have been a more appropriate choice to take home the Globe.

In closing, we leave you with this…

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Sheryl Oh often finds herself fascinated (and let's be real, a little obsessed) with actors and their onscreen accomplishments, developing Film School Rejects' Filmographies column as a passion project. She's not very good at Twitter but find her at @sherhorowitz anyway. (She/Her)