If an awards ceremony happens and nobody attends, did it really ever happen at all? And if it does, will anyone care?
That’s what the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) is about to find out after hosting the 79th Annual Golden Globes ceremony on Sunday, January 9, in a private ceremony held at the Beverly Hilton. A far cry from the glitzy, televised ceremonies of old, HFPA opted to not live-stream the event, instead choosing to announce this year’s film and TV winners to the public via their website and social media accounts.
As far as specifics regarding the TV accolades, suffice it to say that if you watched the 2021 Emmy Awards and are familiar with TV at all, you’ll be wholly unsurprised by half of the night’s victors. And then history was made. (We’ll get to that later.)
The organization’s choice to leave the limelight wasn’t exactly self-imposed, after a year full of alleged improprieties, including accusations of self-dealing, racism, and exclusionary practices led NBC to announce that it would neither host nor air the 2022 Golden Globes ceremony. So the HFPA opted for a decidedly less glamorous event this year, open to only a few invited guests and focusing primarily on the organization’s philanthropic efforts — a clear mea culpa for perceived bad behavior, as well as a convenient choice, given there would be no cameras or celebrities to fuel the event.
But back to those winners. Let’s start with some of the more obvious choices.
When last it was eligible to compete at the Golden Globes (in 2020, for its stellar second season), HBO’s “Succession” fared quite well, winning the top prize for drama series, as well as seeing Brian Cox take home the award for Lead Actor in a Drama Series. On Sunday, the show again won both categories, but with Jeremy Strong taking top honors in Lead Actor. But that’s not all. The HFPA was so hyped about the third season of “Succession” that Sarah Snook won for Supporting Actress. Not surprising, but not too shabby for a series that only scored a single nomination for its first season with a nod for Kieran Culkin in Supporting Actor, an honor he’s managed every season thus far. Justice for Roman Roy!
Meanwhile, in the “Hey, did you watch the Emmys” section of the evening, Emmy-winner Jason Sudeikis again won the Golden Globe for Lead Actor in a Comedy Series for his work on Apple TV+’s “Ted Lasso,” though the prize recognizes his performance for the show’s second season, whereas his recent Emmy win was for the first. Conversely, in Comedy Series on Sunday night, the first season of HBO Max’s “Hacks” edged out “Ted Lasso” Season 2. At the Emmys, Season 1 of “Ted Lasso” bested Season 1 of “Hacks” for Comedy Series, further proof that the Emmy calendar makes no sense.
Regardless, “Hacks” star Jean Smart was victorious in Lead Actress in a Comedy, while her “Mare of Easttown” castmate Kate Winslet won Lead Actress in a Limited Series for the HBO project.
The remaining four winners are something of a curious batch, with two suggesting what upcoming awards might trend toward and two others that seem to imagine what might have been, if things had shaken out differently.
The night began with a significant win for Netflix’s smash hit “Squid Game” as O Yeong-su triumphed in Supporting Actor over Billy Crudup and Mark Duplass of Apple TV+’s “The Morning Show,” recent “Ted Lasso” Emmy-winner Brett Goldstein, and the aforementioned Culkin.
Michael Keaton also nabbed a bit of heat, winning Lead Actor in a Limited Series, for his work in Hulu’s “Dopesick,” an early Emmy favorite in multiple categories.
While the trajectories of “Squid Game” and “Dopesick” remain to be seen, the announcement of nominees for both the Screen Actors Guild Awards and the Writers Guild Awards on January 12 and 13, respectively, should shed more light on the matter.
Finally, there were two bittersweet wins that arose from this year’s Golden Globe Awards, first for Amazon Prime Video’s “The Underground Railroad” in Limited Series. Barry Jenkins’ masterpiece got a fraction of the attention it deserved from the Emmy Awards and seeing it recognized, no matter how specious the awarding body might be, is heartening.
Likewise, Michaela Jaé Rodriguez’s triumph in Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her impeccable work on FX’s “Pose” is a lovely occurrence, and so well-deserved. The first transgender performer to garner an Emmy nomination in a major acting category expanded her legacy, becoming the first trans Golden Globe winner.
Wonderful moments all, yet it’s hard to shake a nagging feeling that was percolating long before the accusations against the HFPA were levied.
That sounds glib, yes, but it’s so much more than that, I swear.
Why did you just read a piece about whom a handful of journalists, plagued with controversy, put in “time out” by NBC, decided to give trophies to? It wasn’t on TV. There was no red carpet. No fancy dresses. No haute couture masks. No celebrities exchanging air hugs and elbow bumps. No candid camera shots of stars who’ve clearly had too much wine and not enough cheese while waiting for the awards to be distributed.
Clearly, you don’t care about the Golden Globes as entertainment. Do you care about the HFPA as an awards-giving body? Should you? Experts will tell you about the correlation between the Golden Globes and the Oscars, but correlation isn’t causation. Oscar season would be fine without the Golden Globes and Emmy season is already wholly indifferent.
Understand that I write this as someone with a pure and unreasonable love of awards shows. But I don’t want awards for awards sake. The Golden Globes are a money-making operation. Profitable to NBC. Profitable to the HFPA. And while the HFPA will tell you all about their charitable works, they’re a little squeamish talking about how money was distributed within its own ranks.
Do you think that the HFPA has cleaned up its act in a year? Accusations of racism, sexism, unscrupulous financial dealings, untoward perks for certain TV and films vying for favor, are they all righted? Does it matter?
It’s maddening that Rodriguez’s accomplishment feels muddied by the shadow of malfeasance that clings to the HFPA. Is an honor awarded by an allegedly corrupt organization still an honor? Should it be?