The most memorable moments from the 2021 Golden Globes
78th Golden Globe Awards
Awards season has finally begun in 2021! Kicking off the start with a "virtual” approach and having far-flung nominees across the world accepting awards over Zoom, the 78th Golden Globes ceremony set the bar for the weirdest awards season ever. In a time where we’ve relied on our televisions for comfort more than ever and haven’t been inside a movie theater for a full year, we knew it was going to be a bizarre and unexpected celebration. Check out the most memorable moments from the awards show.
Best: Tina and Amy help clarify the differences between movies and TV
Things were tense heading into a Golden Globes more presaged by scandal over the HFPA’s alleged corruption and racism than usual. But Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, side-by-side in a Parent Trap-worthy split screen, kicked things off on the right note by speaking to those issues and calling for change while still delivering a measured, funny monologue. Particular joy came in their joke-filled explanation of how movies are things we refuse to watch when they’re over two hours and TV is something we choose to watch for five hours. In a year where the line between cinema and television became increasingly blurred, it was a genuinely amusing take on celebrating all forms of entertainment when we needed them most.
Worst turned best: Daniel Kaluuya is on mute
Daniel Kaluuya fell prey to technical difficulties and the perils of Zoom by attempting to accept his award for Best Supporting Actor while seemingly muted. We’ve all been there, but for a moment it seemed we wouldn’t get to see Kaluuya make a speech honoring his portrayal of Black Panther leader Fred Hampton in Judas and the Black Messiah. Thankfully, he got his microphone on and delivered a poignant speech about how he hopes the film will not only tell the story of how Hampton tied, but help others “grow and learn about how incredibly he lived.”
Best: Angela Bassett gets a leg up
Angela Bassett is never anything short of a fashion goddess, but she rocked her presenter look in a glam purple gown with a very high, very striking slit. Some might remember Angelina Jolie’s famous Oscar stance with her over-extended gams playing up her high-cut gown. But Angela gave better presenter leg slit than Angie ever could.
Worst: Maya Rudolph and Kenan Thompson give a fake speech
Let’s be honest, one of the biggest disappointments of having a socially distanced Globes was the prospect that we wouldn’t get to see any absolutely soused stars taking the stage after over-imbibing (see: Emma Thompson throwing her shoes, Elizabeth Taylor being a legend). So, Poehler tried to make up for it by having Maya Rudolph and Kenan Thompson accept an award as two fictional songwriters. But the moment felt like a post-Weekend Update SNL skit — tired, overlong, and tacked on last minute because it was all they had.
Best: Norman Lear accepts the Carol Burnett Award
One would think being a TV legend at the age of 99, Norman Lear might’ve received every award under the sun by now. But the Carol Burnett Award for outstanding contributions to television on or off screen is relatively new. Burnett herself was the first recipient in 2019. But the award might as well be called the Norman Lear Award for his incredible legacy that revolutionized the television landscape. The Globes offered a loving retrospective of his extraordinary career. Then, Lear gave a lovely speech from his home, celebrating his big family and everyone who helped him along the way, including the award's namesake herself.
Best: It’s good to be “Black”
Everyone from presenters to winners to the members of the HFPA themselves called attention to the diversity issues plaguing the Globes and their membership, but the funniest and most pointed came via This Is Us costars Sterling K. Brown and Susan Kelechi Watson. When taking to the stage to present, they both riffed on it being good to be Black, wait, they mean back, at the Golden Globes (and in life more broadly). Come to think of it, can we get this sparkling duo to host the next awards show? And go ahead and give Watson best dressed now.
Worst: Zoom chat outros
Cutting to commercial, the show chose to cut away to nominees spread across a series of TV screens. If you've been wondering what it'd be like to have a Zoom chat with the stars, guess what? It's just like getting on Zoom with your family. Everyone talks over each other, people are accidentally muted, and there's enough awkward pauses to fill a British sitcom. These outros made the entire ceremony seem like a disjointed, slapdash mess (but we did occasionally get winning moments like nominees mocking Tracy Morgan's mispronunciation of Soul and Olivia Colman geeking out about her co-star's dog).
Best: Kids say the darndest things
Bringing the digital world to the Globes largely proved a fail, but we loved La’Ron Hines bringing one of his most popular TikTok segments to the 2021 Globes. Interviewing a slew of kids about Globes nominees, we got brilliant one-liners like “Jane Fonda is a person who walks normally.” But it went from funny to pulling at the heartstrings in its final question when Hines asked all the kids who the late Chadwick Boseman was. While they didn’t know the answer to any other question, they all resoundingly declared him the Black Panther. Wakanda forever indeed.
Best: Minari brings its message of family to its speech
The best acceptance speech of the night was not anything anyone said, but the way winning Minari writer-director Lee Isaac Chung hugged his child close throughout his win. And the way the charming little girl clung to her dad was equally heartwarming. It reflected the purity of the themes of love and family that Chung's film depicts and that he echoed in his speech. But for the record, it’s still absurd the HFPA wouldn’t allow it to be nominated for Best Picture because it’s predominantly not in English.
Best: Jane Fonda makes a call to action
After a truly spectacular and divinely edited montage of her work (and a bizarre hodgepodge of video tributes from other stars), Jane Fonda stepped onstage to accept the Cecil B. DeMille Award. It’s meant to be an homage to a star’s extraordinary body of work, but in her inimitable way Fonda made it about everyone but herself by celebrating other nominees and championing the power of stories (proving she probably watches more of the nominees' work than the HFPA themselves). She called for Hollywood to start expanding the tent so that everyone’s voices might rise. “Art has always been not just in step with history, but has led the way,” she said. “So, let’s be leaders.” Spoken by a woman who knows what that truly means.
Best: Jodie Foster's PDA
Jodie Foster has spent decades in the spotlight, nearly her whole life, in fact, since she began her career as a child star. But she has always been circumspect and (understandably) extremely private. Foster didn’t come out as gay publicly until the 2013 Globes, while accepting her Cecil B. DeMille Award, so it felt particularly fitting to see her hit another milestone on tonight’s broadcast, kissing her wife Alexandra Hedison before accepting her award for Best Supporting Actress in a Movie. It was moving and adorable and a beautiful celebration of how far Foster has come in being able to feel comfortable being herself in Hollywood. Oh, and their dog is too cute.
Best: Chadwick Boseman wins posthumously
After his untimely death from colon cancer in 2020, Chadwick Boseman’s performance in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom only felt all the more extraordinary. The Golden Globes honored his work, with his wife, Taylor, tearfully accepting on his behalf with an emotional tribute to her husband. “He would say something beautiful, something inspiring, something that would amplify that little voice inside of all of us that tells you, ‘You can,’” she said imagining what his speech might have been like, as his costar Viola Davis looked on with tears in her eyes. The moment was raw and vulnerable, a fitting tribute to a star gone far too soon.
Best: Chloé Zhao makes history
Chloé Zhao became the first Asian woman and only the second woman in history to win the Golden Globe for Best Director. This is really a shameful “worst” for the HFPA in that it’s taken this long to award another woman behind the camera. Barbra Streisand was the only previous winner for her work on Yentl in 1984. During her acceptance speech, Zhao spoke movingly of compassion breaking down barriers and the real “nomads” who made up the heart of the film. We hope it won’t be another almost 40 years before a woman wins this award again.