The red carpet at the 75th Golden Globes could have been a fashionable relative to 2017’s Women’s March. The path was overrun by women’s rights advocates and film and TV actresses, all wearing monochrome black Sunday night at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles.
As celebrities strode past interviewers on the red carpet, there were fewer questions than usual about dress designers and more comments about gender equality and racial justice. The nearly uniform palette was a symbolic statement organized to support Time’s Up, a campaign to diversify the executive ranks of entertainment and other industries.
As Globes nominee Claire Foy (“The Crown”) put it, “It’s not a fashion statement. It’s a solidarity statement.”
That was a strategy followed by black-clad emcee Seth Meyers. Taking aim at male misbehavior in Hollywood, the talk-show host greeted the audience with “Good evening ladies and remaining gentlemen.
“For the male stars in the room this will be the first time in months that it won’t be terrifying to hear your name read out loud.”
Kevin Spacey, Woody Allen and movie mogul Harvey Weinstein all were the targets of energetically thrown punchlines. Making reference to Guillermo del Toro’s best-picture nominee “The Shape of Water,” he said, “When I first heard about a film where a woman falls in love with a hideous monster, I thought it was a Woody Allen movie.”
But the performance of the evening came from Oprah Winfrey. Accepting the Cecil B. DeMille award for lifetime achievement, she took nine minutes to condemn the ongoing problem of sexual harassment. She told the story of Recy Taylor, a victim of sexual assault by a group of white men in Alabama in 1944. “She lived, as we all have lived, too many years in a culture broken by brutally powerful men. For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dared to speak their truth to the power of these men. But their time is up. Their time is up,” she said as the audience rose to deliver a standing ovation.
Whatever else it was, 2017 was a surprisingly good year for high quality, awards-worthy movies. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, an internationally diverse group of 89 members, combed through the players for Sunday’s 75th Golden Globes ceremony. It was a copious list. Last year offered eccentric little genre-defying masterpieces in Craig Gillespie’s “I, Tonya” and Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Phantom Thread.” It gave us solid historical dramas in Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk,” Joe Wright’s “Darkest Hour,” and Steven Spielberg’s “The Post” (opening locally on Friday.)
Gary Oldman, a best-actor winner for “Darkest Hour,” said the role of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill reminded him that “words and action can change the world, and boy oh boy does it need some changing.”
The year also brought remarkable breakthroughs for young writer/directors, like Jordan Peele’s racially charged horror comedy “Get Out” and Greta Gerwig’s charming character study “Lady Bird,” which won for best film comedy while Saoirse Ronan took the award for best actress.
International filmmakers dominated the evening’s top prizes with surreal views of the United States. Martin McDonagh’s “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” won for best drama and best screenplay, and acting awards went to its star, Frances McDormand, and supporting player Sam Rockwell.
McDormand avoided an overt statement about “my politics” but praised the HFPA, saying “they managed to elect a female president...just sayin’,” she said with a smile.
With four wins, the film surpassed Guillermo del Toro’s “The Shape of Water,” an awards season juggernaut since it won the Venice Film Festival’s top prize in September, fueling Oscars buzz. The Globes honored “Shape” with seven nominations, but it won only two, for its director and musical score.
Most of the early speeches dealt less with intolerance and injustice than giving thanks to a rolodex full of industry top brass. But not all acceptance speeches evaded the elephant in the room. Elizabeth Moss, who won the Globe for best actress in a TV series for “The Handmaid’s Tale,” quoted Margaret Atwood, whose novel about women acting out against their male controllers inspired the show. Those characters, Moss said, were “brave enough to speak out against intolerance and injustice and to fight for equality and freedom in this world.”
“Handmaid’s Tale” also won the prize for best TV drama.
HBO’s “Big Little Lies” — a female-led project from Reese Witherspoon’s production company — won the award for best miniseries, and acting prizes for Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern and Alexander Skarsgård.
Allison Janney sounded a feminist note as she accepted the prize for best supporting actress in a movie for “I, Tonya,” which tells the story of disgraced Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding. Janney called it “a story about class, a story about a woman who was not embraced for her individuality, a story about truth, the perception of truth in the media and the truths we all tell ourselves when we wake up in the bed every morning.”
For all the talk of equity, one element was strikingly missing Sunday. There were only five actors of color among the 30 contenders in the film categories, and only four — including best comedy winner Aziz Ansari — among the 40 TV nominees.