Green Book has added a golden page to its awards season success story.
Director Peter Farrelly’s 1960s-set historical biopic — which follows pianist Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) and his bodyguard Tony Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen) as the former tours the Deep South — triumphed at Sunday’s Golden Globe Awards, as the Hollywood Foreign Press Association named it the Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy of 2018 over stiff competition from Adam McKay’s Dick Cheney satire Vice, Jon M. Chu’s game-changing romantic comedy Crazy Rich Asians, and Yorgos Lanthimos’ period piece The Favourite.
After thanking his collaborators, Farrelly wanted to say something about the themes of Green Book. Orchestral music started to play him off stage, but like Regina King had earlier in the night, Farrelly successfully held them off until he finished saying his piece.
“Green Book is the story of a road trip Don Shirley and Tony Vallelonga took in the pre-civil rights era of the 1960s. Shirley was a great man and an underappreciated genius who couldn’t play the kind of music he wanted to play simply because of the color of his skin. Yet he went on to create his own genre of music, a sound so beautiful that it still resonates today,” Farrelly said.
“Tony Vallelonga came from an immigrant family in the Bronx and a culture that didn’t value diversity or individuality, yet in that trip with Dr. Shirley, he grew and evolved more than most families do over several generations,” he continued. “This story, when I heard it, gave me hope, and I wanted to share that hope with you. We’re still living in divided times, maybe more so than ever. That’s who this movie is for. It’s for everybody! If Don Shirley and Tony Vallelonga could find common ground, we all can! All we have to do is talk and not judge people by their differences, but look for what we have in common, and we have a lot in common. We all want the same thing. We want love, we want happiness, we want to be treated equally, and that’s not such a bad thing. Thank you very much. I appreciate it.”
Since 2010, the musical or comedy category has produced eight consecutive winners that have gone on to either win or be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture, though only one — Michel Hazanavicius’ 2011 film The Artist — triumphed in both categories. Last year, Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird took the honor ahead of scoring five total Oscar nominations.
Green Book, which also took home Golden Globes for Best Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor for Ali, stormed the Oscar race in September after winning the Toronto International Film Festival’s prestigious People’s Choice Award — an honor that has gone to nine eventual best picture winners or nominees across the last 10 years.
The films three Golden Globe wins reignited some of the controversies surrounding the film, which has been criticized for perpetuating the “white savior” trope that furthers racial stereotypes. “We were quite aware of that trope before we ever started shooting,” Farrelly previously told EW. “We had long discussions with Mahershala and Viggo, and with [executive producer] Octavia [Spencer] and Kwame Parker, my line producer. We wanted to avoid it, and personally, I think we did. I don’t think we fall into any of those tropes. It’s about two guys who were complete opposites and found a common ground, and it’s not one guy saving the other. It’s both saving each other and pulling each other into some place where they could bond and form a lifetime friendship.”
Mortensen also garnered controversy after using the N-word during a post-screening Q&A. He apologized for the remark, saying in a statement to EW, “In making the point that many people casually used the ‘N’ word at the time in which the movie story takes place, in 1962, I used the full word. Although my intention was to speak strongly against racism, I have no right to even imagine the hurt that is caused by hearing that word in any context, especially from a white man. I do not use the word in private or in public. I am very sorry that I did use the full word last night, and will not utter it again.”
- Peter Farrelly on Green Book‘s Golden Globe noms, criticism: ‘I’m glad there’s a discussion about race’
- Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen reveal how their real-life friendship led to Green Book
- Green Book team on why the film’s ‘feel-good’ label ‘makes it sound squeakier-clean than it is’
- TIFF People’s Choice Award launches Green Book into the Oscar race