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Inside the 2023 Golden Globes Ceremony, Guests Find the Old Rituals and a New Game

From Ke Hey Huan's emotional speech to the bleeped obscenities to celebrities in the bathroom, it was almost — but not quite — the same old Globes.

Colin Farrell, Martin McDonagh, Barry Keoghan, Kerry Condon, Graham Broadbent, and Brendan Gleeson

Colin Farrell, Martin McDonagh, Barry Keoghan, Kerry Condon, Graham Broadbent, and Brendan Gleeson, winners of Best Picture – Musical/Comedy for “The Banshees of Inisherin,” pose at the 80th Annual Golden Globe Awards

Amy Sussman/Getty Images

This was a comeback year in every sense for the Golden Globes Awards. It’s the show’s first year after an enforced break, and it’s been ages since the Globes were just that other awards show that was less legit but more fun — and not the tainted product of a scandal-magnet Hollywood Foreign Press Association that included its absence of diversity, the mishandling of Brendan Fraser’s groping allegation, and much more. The matter of who its members would select to receive Golden Globes almost seemed like an afterthought.

However, minutes after dinner was served inside the Beverly Hilton’s International Ballroom, the show seemed to fall back into its old habits: Attendees who weren’t cleared for the red carpet stared in envy at those who were, a privilege marked by the tiny, chic Moët bottle with a rose-colored spout that they received at the end of the spectacle.

“Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” filmmaker Rian Johnson and the supporting cast of HBO Max’s “Hacks” stepped inside as dinner was served, but there were murmurs questioning if the room always felt so empty at this point in the festivities. Heidi Klum, sipping her red-carpet champagne, turned away from the half-empty bar room and seemed to be transfixed by a monitor showing the red-carpet feed. Maybe talent really was skipping the Globes this year.

In the end, all of it was kind of true. Host Jerrod Carmichael captured the spirit of the night with his opening monologue: Everyone was aware of the HFPA drama, but still felt the industry “deserves evenings like these.” At that point, much of the ballroom was distracted by getting their hellos in, or figuring out how to find food. Same as it ever was.

It was “Everything Everywhere All at Once” star Ke Huy Quan’s emotional acceptance speech for Best Supporting Actor, Motion Picture that got everyone to shut up — right at the moment when Quan gestured toward his directors, the Daniels, saying “they gave me the opportunity to try again” as he held back tears. Presenter Jennifer Hudson and Best Supporting Actress, Motion Picture winner Angela Bassett (“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”) embraced on stage in coordinating gold and silver sequin dresses; Jennifer Coolidge pontificated about the anxiety produced by the prospect of presenting. It all worked for both seated guests and viewers at home, and provided a familiar reminder of what the Globes can offer.

Ke Huy Quan

Ke Huy Quan poses with the Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture award for “Everything Everywhere All at Once” at the 80th Annual Golden Globe Awards

Amy Sussman/Getty Images

So much of the evening catered to those closest to the stage: “Abbott Elementary” helmer and star Quinta Brunson twice illustrated the difficulty of running the gauntlet of table rounds to reach the stage as she accepted two awards for the ABC sitcom, including Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy. Presenters and recipients had bird’s eye views of Brad Pitt and Rihanna, but for anyone else it could be impossible to see where the big stars were seated. Everybody loves the Golden Globes bar; many skipped it as it would be too hard to get up and return within a commercial break.

The bathroom line was a reliable resource of entertainment: “Hacks” star Carl Clemons-Hopkins complimented presenter Colman Domingo’s black Dolce & Gabbana suit! Rihanna’s beau A$AP Rocky was at the sink washing his hands! Elsewhere rapper T.I. traversed the room, stopping to talk to nominees like “Top Gun: Maverick” producer David Ellison and star Jay Ellis.

This Globes also offered a new game for its attendees: Which stars really couldn’t come to the show? No excuses for Zendaya, who won Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Drama; she just wasn’t there. Best Actress, Drama winner Cate Blanchett (“TÁR”) was shooting in London, presenter Henry Golding read from the Teleprompter — but didn’t she just accept an award in Palm Springs and attend awards screenings for her film on Saturday and Sunday in LA? Regina Hall couldn’t help herself from laughing at Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Drama winner Kevin Costner (“Yellowstone”) blaming the weather in nearby Santa Barbara as the reason he did not make the trip. (To be fair, flooding meant that the 101 highway was closed, as was the Santa Barbara airport.)

Tony Kushner, Seth Rogen, Judd Hirsch, Gabriel LaBelle, Steven Spielberg, Michelle Williams, Paul Dano, and Kristie Macosko Krieger

Tony Kushner, Seth Rogen, Judd Hirsch, Gabriel LaBelle, Steven Spielberg, Michelle Williams, Paul Dano, and Kristie Macosko Krieger, winners of Best Picture – Drama for “The Fabelmans,” pose at the 80th Annual Golden Globe Awards

Amy Sussman/Getty Images

What this year’s show didn’t have were its multiple studio- and network-sponsored afterparties within the Hilton. Instead, the hotel hosted one pared-down soiree presented by Billboard. Winners like “Babylon” composer Justin Hurwitz and “Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story” star Evan Peters headed straight to the line that would let them get their statues engraved, but within an hour most big stars left the building. Some moved on to impromptu celebrations like a small reception at Tommy’s Beverly Hills for Best Motion Picture – Drama winner “The Fabelmans.” Though stars of the film like Michelle Williams, Seth Rogen, Judd Hirsch, and Gabriel Labelle all stopped by to grab a White Negroni or snack on macarons, it was Harvey Guíllen and Salma Hayek-Pinault, voice actors in fellow Universal Pictures release “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish,” who closed the party.

In the process of saving face, the HFPA did an OK job: It showcased what the Golden Globes can offer, from nabbing rising star Carmichael to host to inviting influencers that stars would actually appreciate seeing, like Amelia Dimoldenberg, host of the viral interview series “Chicken Shop Date.” It annoyed some winners by trying to play them off-stage, but the crowd inside loved their defiant reactions.

Is all forgiven? No. At this writing, the jury (and the ratings) are out as everyone considers the entertainment, financial, and promotional value of the Globes. As the evening’s wisest presenter Natasha Lyonne said last night: “Since time facilitates death, it’s wisest to keep her beat.”

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