Celebrity

Sandra Oh, calls for change and the upsets that made the Golden Globes memorable

You could say the Golden Globes returned to form for its 2019 edition, offering up a night of surprises — from heartfelt to head-scratching.

This year, it was back to (show) business right from the start, with a red carpet awash in a riot of rainbow colours, a sea of sparkle and sartorial choices that ran the gamut from Old Hollywood to fierce fashion.

It was a marked difference from last year’s gala. As the first major awards show following the Harvey Weinstein revelations and the #MeToo movement, last year’s show featured many sombre, black-garbed celebs — an anomaly for the typically rollicking, well-lubricated ceremony held annually at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

Equality, diversity and inclusion remained a theme for another year, something many of the night’s winners nodded to in their acceptance speeches. (Think Regina King pledging to have at least half of the staff on her next projects be women.)

But the star-studded evening struck a lighter tone overall this year. So how did the Hollywood Foreign Press Association fare as it returned to its more celebratory traditions? And what were the night’s most memorable, meme-worthy and jaw-dropping moments?

Oh Canada!

Revealing backstage that she leaned on improv training she did in Canada for her Globes hosting gig Sunday night, Sandra Oh was among the highlights of the night. Sure, she and co-host Andy Sandberg had some awkward jokes and a tepid mock roast of nominees.

But the past Globes winner (2006 for Grey’s Anatomy) fared better with more pointed bits, including an acknowledgement of Crazy Rich Asians that took a dig at Hollywood’s whitewashing habit and a lovingly delivered skewering of A Star is Born‘s Lady Gaga.

Sandra Oh co-hosted the show with actor and comedian Andy Samberg. (Mike Blake/Reuters)

She also shared a surprisingly emotional moment about her decision to accept the historic hosting gig — Oh is the first performer of Asian heritage and the first Canadian to serve as MC.

I said yes to the fear of being on this stage tonight because I wanted to be here to look out into this audience and witness this moment of change. I’m not fooling myself. Next year could be different. It probably will be, but right now, this moment is real,” she said, looking out into an audience filled with a slate of nominees more diverse than in years past.

“Trust me: this is real, because I see you. And I see you. All of these faces of change. And now so will everyone else.”

Later, Oh gave one of the night’s most touching acceptances speeches upon winning best actress in a dramatic series for her lead role in Killing Eve. From her reaction at seeing her father’s standing ovation (“Oh Daddy!”) to thanking her parents in Korean as well as English, the Canadian star surely had countless viewers reaching for a tissue.

Cultural call-outs

Oh wasn’t alone in shouting out her family and culture. Fellow winners Darren Criss (The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story) and filmmaker Alfonso Cuaron (Roma) also discussed representation and the influence of family and loved ones while accepting awards onstage.

Darren Criss strikes a pose with his award for his work in The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story. (Mario Anzuoni/Reuters)

“This has been a marvellous year for representation in Hollywood and I’m enormously proud to be a teeny tiny part of that as the son of a firecracker Filipino woman from Cebu that dreamed of coming to this country,” Criss declared as he dedicated his best actor in a limited series win to his mother. 

“Mom, I know you’re watching this. You’re hugely responsible for most of the good things in my life.”

For his part, best film director winner Cuaron said that, in reality, his universally lauded drama Roma “was directed by [his childhood nanny] Libo, my mother, my family and maybe more importantly… this very complex lab that shaped and created me. Muchas gracias, Mexico.”

Earlier, Cuaron had also thanked his family and Mexico for “the specific colours that made me who I am” in accepting Roma‘s win for best foreign-language film.

Netherworld name-check

Perhaps one of the more unusual thank-yous of the evening? It came from Christian Bale, who name-checked the devil as an inspiration to play Dick Cheney in Vice.

Calls for change

If Beale Street Could Talk‘s Regina King brought the show back to some of Hollywood’s long-running issues, directing part of her acceptance speech to all those who gripe about celebrities getting up “on our soapboxes” during award shows.

“The reason why we do this is because we understand our microphones are big and we’re speaking up for everyone,” the best supporting film actress winner declared before pledging that every project she produces henceforth will have a workforce that is 50 per cent female.

“I challenge anyone out there who is in a position of power — not just in our industry, in all industries — I challenge you to challenge yourself and do the same.”

Regina King, seen in this image from NBC, said she is going to boost the number of women working on her productions – and she urged others to strive for change, too. (Paul Drinkwater/NBC/Associated Press)

Female empowerment was also a theme for Glenn Close, visibly emotional and in shock upon winning best actress in a drama film for The Wife. At first quipping that the title of the film may have been why “it took 14 years to get made,” the screen veteran continued with a bittersweet personal anecdote that led into a rallying call.

“I’m thinking of my mom, who really sublimated herself to my father her whole life. And in her 80s, she said ‘I feel I haven’t accomplished anything’ …We have to find personal fulfilment. We have to follow dreams. We have to say ‘I can do that’ and ‘I should be allowed to do that.'”

Producer Brad Simpson, onstage to accept the best limited series Golden Globe for The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story, delivered another artistic call to arms — speaking specifically about the need to stand up for underrepresented voices.  

“As artists we must fight back by representing those who are not represented and by providing a space for people who are new voices, who tell stories that haven’t been told. As human beings we should resist in the streets, resist in the ballot box and practice love and empathy in our everyday lives,” he declared.  

Wakanda Forever

For many online, a shout-out to box office giant and cultural phenomenon Black Panther was an evening highlight.

However, after the film was among those snubbed, the tide turned.

Upset for Bohemian Rhapsody

For a film that struggled with production issues, garnered mixed reviews (with its star the lone exception) and was blasted by some for straight-washing its story, Bohemian Rhapsody‘s double win (best drama film, best actor in a drama film) and near-TKO of the much more heralded A Star is Born was perhaps the night’s biggest jaw-dropper.

Bohemian Rhapsody‘s surprising triumph at the Globes did come with a welcome bit of Canadiana in the form of Mike Myers, who turns up in a cameo and also offered an introduction to the film.

“This experience of Queen, for me personally, is a continuing series of minds being blown,” Myers declared backstage. “I’m just thrilled to be part of it.”

Carol Burnett’s sweet speech

Finally, what would an award show be without a tribute (or two!). While the beloved Jeff Bridges stayed true to form with a meandering, Dude-worthy speech, small screen legend Carol Burnett offered a bit of sweet nostalgia.

The 85-year-old’s humility — she professed being “gobsmacked” at having a new TV-themed lifetime achievement award named after her — stood in stark contrast to her innumerable accolades, including being the first woman to host a TV variety sketch show, winning more than two dozen Emmys and the title of most decorated television contender ever in Golden Globe history, according to presenter Steve Carell.

Though she sometimes catches herself wishing to be young so she could do it all over again, Burnett said she realizes that today’s producers would never finance a show like her namesake series, with its 28-piece live orchestra, 12 dancers and 65 costumes a week. The Carol Burnett Show ran for 11 seasons.

“So here’s to reruns and YouTube,” she quipped.

“I’m just happy that our show happened when it did and I can look back and say once more, ‘I’m so glad we had this time together,”‘ she said, repeating the line from her show’s theme song, giving her trademark ear-tug and bringing a wistful look to many in the audience.

Carol Burnett, who was honoured for her years of work, said she’s ‘happy that our show happened when it did.’ (Mario Anzuoni/Reuters)




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