The ever-idiosyncratic 90 entertainment reporters who comprise the Hollywood Foreign Press never fail to surprise. The entertaining show itself was hosted by the musically oriented Jimmy Fallon, who predictably leaned into inevitable big winner “La La Land” throughout the night.
The seven-award sweep for musical “La La Land” sets a Globe record and only adds to its Oscar momentum. Academy voters are filling in their ballots now, which are due January 13, but the Globes are not predictive. Remember, there is no overlap with some 6,000 Academy voters. (The Globes ignored “Spotlight” last year.) The PGA nominations on January 10 and SAG Awards on January 29 will be more revealing.
Photo by Rob Latour/REX/Shutterstock
The winners’ speeches could have some impact on their fates. Viola Davis got plenty of Globe screen time: Not only did she gracefully win Supporting Actress for “Fences,” but she paid tribute to Cecil B. DeMille winner and “Doubt” costar Meryl Streep, who is competing for Best Actress in “Florence Foster Jenkins.”
The tribute film clips only boost the Oscar perennial’s chances at a nomination, as did her powerful speech defending three vilified groups these days, she said: foreigners, Hollywood, and the press. “Hollywood is crawling with foreigners,” she said. “Take them all out, and you’ll end up watching football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts.” She concluded, “We’re going to need journalists going forward.”
The directors of Best Animation winner “Zootopia” and “Elle” director Paul Verhoeven, winner of Best Foreign Film, also made overtly political comments. “Zootopia” director Byron Howard said Disney backed the filmmakers’ aim to entertain “kids as well as adults, embracing diversity even when there are those in the world who want to divide us by using fear.” Backstage, he added that “by looking at animals we learned a lot about humans.” During filming as “the world around us began to explode,” said Howard, the filmmakers just doubled down on their message.
Backstage, Verhoeven said that the U.S. president and his potential cabinet appointments are “scary,” because it “could easily go in directions that ultimately will end in war and destruction. I am scared of this presidency.” “Atlanta” Actor winner Donald Glover was blunter in his assessment: “What’s happening now is bullshit.”
Best Film, Comedy/Musical was destined to go to “La La Land;” nobody else had a chance. Best Director also went to Damien Chazelle, along with Best Screenplay; drama candidates “Manchester By the Sea” and “Moonlight” presumably split the votes. Chazelle, who revived the Hollywood musical and then some, gives “La La Land” a sweeping, ambitious feel.
Will the same thing happen at the Oscars? The Academy will use a preferential ballot for Best Picture, which rewards the most passionate number one, two, and three votes. But light-hearted romance”La La Land” could have an advantage in other categories if multiple dramas split the votes.
Best Comedy/Musical Actress went as expected to “La La Land” singer-dancer-actress Emma Stone, beating out potential Oscar contenders Annette Bening (“20th Century Women”) as well as Streep’s tin-eared opera singer “Florence Foster Jenkins.” In many ways, both Annette Bening and Meryl Streep have richer — and funnier — roles, but reinvented musical “La La Land” sucked up all the air in the room.
Best Comedy/Musical Actor went, as expected, to Ryan Gosling, who thanked not only his director and costar Emma Stone but the mother of his children for supporting him during “one of the best experiences I ever had on a film,” singing, dancing, and playing jazz piano. The other Globe-nominated character performances couldn’t compete with this dazzling movie star at the height of his allure.
Best Score inevitably went to composer Justin Hurwitz, Damien Chazelle’s college chum for “La La Land.” Backstage, Chazelle said watching his buddy win was the high point of the night for him, reminding that it took six years of “no” to make the film.
Best Original Song: In the usual Globe universe, pop star Justin Timberlake would have easily won for his “Trolls” song. But “City of Stars” from “La La Land” took the win, with hot young Broadway lyricists Benj Pasek and Justin Paul joining Hurwitz. The Oscar win will depend on whether “La La Land” gets two nominations for “Audition” as well as “City of Stars.” In that case, they could split the vote and send the win to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “How Far I’ll Go” from “Moana.”
The expected winners:
Best Film, Drama, went to Barry Jenkins’ coming-of-age triptych “Moonlight,” in a close race with “Manchester By the Sea,” even though expected Supporting Actor winner Mahershala Ali lost to Aaron Taylor-Johnson for his intense serial killer in “Nocturnal Animals,” one of the big upsets of the night.
Although Kenneth Lonergan did not win Best Director or Screenplay, his “Manchester By the Sea’ star Casey Affleck did win Best Drama Actor: the awards continue to roll in for his performance as a tortured Boston janitor, who carries a deep wound that will never be healed. He is the frontrunner for the Oscar; only charismatic Denzel Washington, who goes big with ex-baseball player garbageman Troy Maxson in August Wilson’s “Fences,” has a shot at catching up with him, as “Fences” rides a box office surge.
Best Supporting Actress went inevitably to “Fences” Tony-winner Viola Davis, who straddles theater, film, and television. Before she switched categories, Michelle Williams was leading the pack, but now feels a distant second, partly because Davis, a six-time Globe nominee, has such a showy dramatic role. In her graceful acceptance speech, Davis cited her father who was born in 1936 and didn’t learn to read until he was 15 and had a story that deserved to be told, she said. “And August Wilson told it.”
Best Animated Film went to Disney frontrunner “Zootopia.” Its strong diversity narrative, which only became more resonant over the five years it took to reach the audiences who embraced the film worldwide, will also play well with Oscar voters.
Best Drama Actress, revealing the wide open Oscar field, went to French actress Isabelle Huppert for “Elle.” While Natalie Portman won Dramatic Actress at the Critics Choice Awards against her rival Emma Stone for her portrayal of grieving Jacqueline Kennedy, Portman did not take the Globe — even without Stone competing against her. The foreign correspondents went with one of their own, who is long overdue.
Best Foreign Language Film also went to Dutch director Paul Verhoeven’s “Elle,” over “Toni Erdmann,” Maren Ade’s three-hour father-daughter comedy. Verhoeven took the opportunity to praise Huppert, who “did not invite you to sympathize with the character,” he said, “so I thank the HFPA for being so open-minded.” And he thanked Huppert for “your talent, audacity and authenticity.”
“Elle” isn’t shortlisted for the Oscar, but these wins helps Huppert’s bid for a Best Actress nomination.
Best Supporting Actor was expected to go to “Moonlight” star Mahershala Ali. Partly because this was a breakout year for the star of Netflix series “House of Cards” and “Luke Cage” as well as Fox’s “Hidden Figures,” there was a sense of inevitability about winning awards for this moving pivotal role in “Moonlight,” as the drug dealer who nurtures a bullied young boy. Jeff Bridges for “Hell or High Water” would not have been a huge surprise.
But did anyone predict Aaron Taylor-Johnson, who chews up the scenery as the bad guy in Tom Ford’s “Nocturnal Animals”? This is an example of how much the HFPA can diverge from other groups. Oscar voters are still catching up with their screeners, so more may check out the movie. But I will be surprised if Taylor-Johnson lands an Oscar nomination. SAG nominees who don’t get Globe nominations are more likely to get an Oscar nod than vice versa.
Afterward, winners and losers alike repaired to a swirl of parties at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, from Weinstein Co./Netflix and Fox, which threw viewing parties, to HBO, NBC/Universal/Focus, and Amazon, which boasted rocking performances from Questlove.