Hollywood has shrugged off allegations of sexual harassment, racial discrimination and corruption still hanging over the newly reformed Hollywood Foreign Press Association to celebrate the return to TV of the Golden Globes, after two years.
The Irish black comedy, The Banshees of Inisherin, won three awards – including Best Comedy Film, Best Comedy Actor for Colin Farrell and Best Screenplay for director Martin McDonagh. The Best Director prize went to Steven Spielberg for his semi-autobiographical The Fabelmans, which was named the Best Drama Film.
Other acting awards went to Austin Butler for his portrayal of the eponymous star Elvis, Cate Blanchett in the drama Tár, Michelle Yeoh for her turn in the fantasy comedy Everything Everywhere All At Once. Her co-star, Ke Huy Quan, was named the best supporting actor, while the best supporting actress prize went to Angela Bassett for playing Black Panther’s mother in Wakanda Forever.
In the TV categories, the drama awards went to House of the Dragon, Euphoria’s Zendaya and Kevin Costner for Yellowstone. The comedy honours went to Abbot Elementary, its creator Quinta Brunson and Jeremy Allen White for The Bear. The TV supporting actor prizes went to Abbot Elementary’s Tyler James Williams and Ozark’s Julia Garner.
In the TV movie or mini-series categories, the winners including The White Lotus, Amanda Seyfried, Evan Peters, Jennifer Coolidge and Paul Walter Hauser.
With the NBC network cutting its contract to televise the Golden Globes ceremony to a single year, almost as much interest is being paid in the industry to what’s going on behind the scenes as what happened on stage.
What had been the second biggest awards ceremony after the Oscars was brought to its knees two years ago by the revelation that despite voting members coming from all corners of the globe – from Egypt, Bangladesh and the Philippines to India, Turkey and Japan – none was black.
After the HFPA admitted six black members and announced a range of changes to its management – including being bought by a firm that also controls the main trade press – most film studios, TV networks, publicists and stars now appear ready to associate themselves with a rehabilitated organisation, although the extent to which it has been rehabilitated remains in question.
In interviews, the HFPA president Helen Hoehne has highlighted a new hotline to report misbehaviour as one its main reforms, but What’s Worth Seeing understands that alleged malpractice formally reported through the hotline has not been investigated. Hoehne has also said the organisation has expelled a handful of members who have breached its rules, but in an outstanding legal case against the HFPA, a judge at the Los Angeles Superior Court said the evidence he had seen suggested it was the HFPA itself which had breached its own rules in the handling of one of those cases.
Other reforms include paying the existing HFPA members, who’ve previously been accused of accepting bribes from film companies and publicists, $75,000 a year to vote for the next five years – in exchange for handing control of the Golden Globes brand to Eldridge Industries – and bringing in about a hundred more international film journalists to join the voting pool, although they are not paid, as they don’t own a stake in the brand.
To ensure that the industry could see its reforms up on screen, the HFPA hired the comedian Jerrod Carmichael to host – he announced that he was only there because he was black; the awards presenters included the black stars Billy Porter, Letitia Wright, Jennifer Hudson, Regina Hall, Colman Domingo and Tracy Morgan; and the lifetime achievement Cecil B DeMille award went to Eddie Murphy.
Board members might also have been relieved to see a large number of black stars among the winners, including Black Panther’s Angela Bassett, Zendaya for Euphoria and Abbot Elementary’s Tyler James Williams and Quinta Brunson. Other winners, increasing the diversity of this year’s alumni, included the Malaysian Michelle Yeoh, Vietnamese Ke Huy Quan and Naatu Naatu, the song from the Indian film, RRR, which beat songs from the likes of Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga.
The organisers also managed to avoid the potential embarrassment of awards going to outspoken HFPA critics; Tom Cruise – who handed back his three Golden Globes after the scandal broke – was nominated for producing Top Gun: Maverick, but that film was beaten by The Fabelmans – while Best Drama Actor went to Elvis’ Austin Butler, rather than The Whale’s Brendan Fraser, whose claims of being groped by a former HFPA President, Phil Berk, were dismissed as a joke, prompting him to boycott the ceremony, saying his mother didn’t raise a hypocrite.
Against the background of two years of controversy, the organisers will most likely be pleased by the turnout and the lack of controversy on the night, given that it was touch-and-go how much support the ceremony would have, with the final set of presenters not being announced until the day before.
With speculation that more stars might stay away, their return to share the limelight with members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association could have something to with the new ownership structure of the Globes; now part of Eldridge Industries, which also has interests in the main trade press, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter and Deadline, to continuing getting positive coverage, stars and studios won’t want to get on the wrong side of the man at the top, the Chelsea owner Todd Boehly; as an early indication of his no-nonsense approach to his recent purchase, the controversial Hollywood blogger Sharon Waxman, who’s written articles critical of Mr Boehly, announced just before the awards ceremony that she’d been disinvited. And it seems that she wasn’t alone – other journalists, even one from the Hollywood Reporter itself, have said they were banned from attending in person – citing their membership of a rival awards body, the Critics Choice Association.
It’s also likely that many of the stars will be unaware of the ongoing legal action against the HFPA, because while Variety and The Hollywood Reporter have reported announcements of the organisation’s reforms and legal victories, they haven’t mentioned a recent finding from a judge at the LA Superior Court, rejecting the HFPA’s efforts to stop an expelled member, Husam Asi, from suing the organisation. The case brought by Asi – an Israeli Arab who often identifies as Palestinian – includes claims that the HFPA failed to investigate a number of complaints he made about board members – including being sexually harassed and facing racial discrimination.
But whether it’s fear of falling out with the trade press or a lack of awareness of the ongoing controversies involving the organisation because of a lack of reporting, much of Hollywood seems to have dipped a tentative toe back into the Golden Globes pool. It would be unlikely that Hollywood doesn’t regard the current allegations as seriously as previous ones – it was allegations of sexual harassment that brought down Harvey Weinstein and suggestions of racism that initially brought the HFPA itself to its knees. And another of the HFPA’s reforms were to in bring in a diversity consultant, so perhaps stars just gave the HFPA the benefit of the doubt and assumed it had made good on its pledges. But if stars knew about the ongoing allegations but returned anyway, it would suggest that claims of racism and sexual harassment are taken no more seriously within the wider industry than they are within the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.
So, why have Hollywood insiders flooded back to the Golden Globes? Do they not know or do they not care?Either they don’t know about the ongoing claims of a culture of sexual harassment, racism and corruption within the HFPA, because the trade press – all owned by the same group that controls the Golden Globes – doesn’t report them – or they do know but don’t care, because a moment on the red carpet is worth more to them than making a stand against sexual harassment and racial discrimination. Maybe they believe two years in the wilderness is enough punishment for the HFPA, even if it’s still facing questions? Or maybe they just don’t believe this alleged victim, but wouldn’t that suggest that Hollywood has reverted to where it was before the Me Too movement encouraged victims to be believed, in the first instance.
But with its big day out of the way for another year, the HFPA and the wider entertainment industry, have some breathing space to decide how to proceed. Was this a one-off return or will the industry decide that it needs the Golden Globes and it’s prepared to hold its nose or look away, while any controversy is brushed under the carpet? The likelihood is that everyone involved will keep a low profile for a while, and it might be that the next time the HFPA returns to the limelight, will be to give evidence in court or settle the case outside it.
After which discussion, a group of reviewers and entertainment journalists patting stars on the back might seem a little glib, but here is the full list of winners, nonetheless.
Best motion picture – drama
- WINNER: The Fabelmans
Best motion picture – musical or comedy
- WINNER: The Banshees of Inisherin
Best actress in a motion picture – drama
- WINNER: Cate Blanchett – Tár
Best actor in a motion picture – drama
- WINNER: Austin Butler – Elvis
Best actress in a motion picture – musical or comedy
- WINNER: Michelle Yeoh – Everything Everywhere All At Once
Best actor in a motion picture – musical or comedy
- WINNER: Colin Farrell – The Banshees of Inisherin
Best supporting actress in any motion picture
- WINNER: Angela Bassett – Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Best supporting actor in any motion picture
- WINNER: Ke Huy Quan – Everything Everywhere All At Once
Best director – motion picture
- WINNER: Steven Spielberg – The Fabelmans
Best screenplay – motion picture
- WINNER: Martin McDonagh – The Banshees of Inisherin
Best motion picture – animated
- WINNER: Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio
Best motion picture – non-English language
- WINNER: Argentina, 1985 – Argentina
Best original score – motion picture
- WINNER: Justin Hurwitz – Babylon
Best original song – motion picture
- WINNER: Naatu Naatu – RRR (MM Keeravani – music, Kala Bhairava, Rahul Sipligunj – lyrics)
Best TV series – drama
- WINNER: House of the Dragon
Best actress in a drama series
- WINNER: Zendaya – Euphoria
Best actor in a drama series
- WINNER: Kevin Costner – Yellowstone
Best TV series – musical or comedy
- WINNER: Abbott Elementary
Best actress in a TV series – musical or comedy
- WINNER: Quinta Brunson – Abbot Elementary
Best actor in a TV series – musical or comedy
- WINNER: Jeremy Allen White – The Bear
Best supporting actress in a musical, comedy or drama TV series
- WINNER: Julia Garner – Ozark
Best supporting actor in a musical, comedy or drama TV series
- WINNER: Tyler James Williams – Abbott Elementary
Best limited series or TV movie
- WINNER: The White Lotus
Best actress in a limited series or TV movie
- WINNER: Amanda Seyfried – The Dropout
Best actor in a limited series or TV movie
- WINNER: Evan Peters – Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story
Best supporting actress in a series, limited series or TV movie
- WINNER: Jennifer Coolidge – The White Lotus
Best supporting actor in a series, limited series or TV movie
- WINNER: Paul Walter Hauser – Black Bird