Most awkward awards show ever?
The best, worst, and most shocking moments from a chaotic Golden Globes
Pundits were bracing for chaos at the 2021 Golden Globes, and the show certainly delivered.
While last year's Emmys largely avoided devolving into a disaster despite being largely virtual due to the pandemic, the Golden Globes were a different story. Sunday's telecast, which already seemed fated to be deeply weird, was plagued by technical difficulties and strange choices in presentation — not to mention some seriously wild picks.
Still, the show wasn't without its highlights. From the good to the bad to the just plain shocking, here are highlights and lowlights from the 2021 Golden Globes.
Fey and Poehler's bicoastal monologue
It was the first, and hopefully last, Golden Globes to be hosted from two locations at once, with Tina Fey in New York and Amy Poehler in California, and with essential workers making up the audience in both places. At least for their opening monologue, lining the duo up via split-screen was actually decently effective, and one could almost at times forget they weren't in the same room.
The bicoastal set-up didn't always go smoothly, though. Just look, for example, at a moment later in the evening when Fey and Poehler attempted to introduce Norman Lear by saying his name perfectly in sync ... only to awkwardly fail to line up.
The audio cuts out during literally the first speech
Things went downhill almost immediately after this opening monologue, as the very first time the show cut to a winner, Daniel Kaluuya, his audio was completely inaudible. In fact, producers very nearly bailed on Kaluuya's feed entirely, though the issues were thankfully fixed in time for him to jump in — while he was being played off.
"You're doing me dirty!" a suddenly audible Kaluuya yelled. "Am I on? Is this on? Is this on? Alright, cool."
That would turn out to be one of a number of bizarre technical issues throughout the show, with stray audio also popping up while Poehler spoke on multiple occasions, among other blunders. When Jason Sudeikis accepted his trophy, his speech started with, "Do I talk now?" And a speech by Dan Levy opened with, "Is this … are we on?"
The Hollywood Reporter's Daniel Fienberg slammed the broadcast for being "utterly inept, production-wise," while the Reporter's Rebecca Ford noted, "Turns out it's very hard to produce a virtual awards show and the Emmys just made it look easy?"
The bizarre Zoom walls
What made matters worse was the show's baffling choice to, before commercial breaks, pan to shots of the remote nominees on screens just sitting around in their respective locations, doing their best to fill the incredibly uncomfortable amount of time the camera spent on them with insufferable Zoom banter.
At certain points, it wasn't even totally clear whether the nominees were aware they were on TV at all — as when Catherine O'Hara was seen in a live shot looking down at her phone and texting.
And the Golden Globe goes to … Sal?
The 2021 Golden Globes' entire feel might be best summed up by the original score presentation, in which Tracy Morgan declared the "Golden Globe goes to … Sal!" — he meant Pixar's Soul — an announcement immediately followed by a pre-recorded acceptance speech, the audio of which awkwardly faded in and overlapped with Morgan attempting to correct himself.
The HFPA's 'half-hearted mea culpa'
The group behind the Golden Globes, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, was under heavy fire heading into the show for not having a single Black member, a topic for which it was frequently roasted — including when Sacha Baron Cohen thanked the "all-white Hollywood Foreign Press."
Members of the HFPA tried to address the controversy early on, coming on stage to acknowledge "we have our own work to do" while promising a "more inclusive future." But this vague, less-than-50 second statement was quickly slammed by critics, with Gold Derby's Daniel Montgomery dismissing it as a "half-hearted mea culpa," and Time's Up saying it pointed to "a fundamental lack of understanding of the depth of the problems at hand."
Norman Lear and Jane Fonda's speeches
Two of the night's best speeches came from Norman Lear and Jane Fonda, with the former accepting the Carol Burnett Award and paying tribute to the trophy's namesake with her famous ear tug.
Fonda, while accepting the Cecil B. DeMille Award, called for greater diversity in the industry, saying, "Let's all of us make an effort to expand that tent so that everyone rises and everyone's story has a chance to be seen and heard." And unlike the HFPA members, it didn't sound like a message she'd been dragged on stage to deliver.
Pike, Foster, and Day surprise
Nomadland and Borat Subsequent Moviefilm's top film wins weren't unexpected, but the Globes still delivered three major shockers.
One was Rosamund Pike's best actress in a musical or comedy win for I Care a Lot. She surprisingly beat the heavy favorite, Borat's Maria Bakalova, a stunning outcome that The Washington Post's Steven Zeitchik said offered a "perfect example of how weird this season can/will get." Andra Day became only the second Black winner for best drama actress, a major surprise in a race widely seen as being down to Frances McDormand, Viola Davis, and Carey Mulligan.
And then there was Jodie Foster, who shockingly won supporting actress for The Mauritanian, even though numerous experts ranked her least likely to win in that category of all five nominees. Of course, it was all worth it to see Foster accept the award remotely while wearing pajamas and petting a dog.
Chadwick Boseman's widow delivers a heartbreaking speech
There couldn't have been a dry eye in the viewing audience when Chadwick Boseman's widow, Taylor Simone Ledward, delivered an unforgettable speech accepting his posthumous Golden Globe for Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, the final movie he completed prior to his death.
"He would thank God," she said. "He would thank his parents. He would thank his ancestors for their guidance and their sacrifices. ... I don't have his words, but we have to take all the moments to celebrate those we love, so thank you HFPA for this opportunity to do exactly that."
Chloé Zhao makes history
It may not have been a surprise, but it was still hugely satisfying to see Nomadland's Chloé Zhao make history as the first Asian woman to win the best director Globe, and only the second woman ever. Later, she got to accept another prize for Nomadland, the first Best Motion Picture — Drama winner directed by a woman.
"Nomadland at its core for me is a pilgrimage through grief and healing," Zhao said. "So for everyone who has gone through this difficult and beautiful journey at some point in their lives, this is for you. We don't say goodbye. We say see you down the road."
Lee Isaac Chung celebrates Minari's win with his daughter
Minari controversially couldn't compete for Best Motion Picture — Drama, but it did get honored with Best Foreign Language Film. At that point, we got one of the show's most heartwarming moments, as director Lee Isaac Chung was warmly embraced by his comically cute daughter during his acceptance speech.
"She's the reason I made this film," he said.
It's the kind of sweet, intimate moment we might just miss once the show gets back to normal — whenever that may be.