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The Biggest Moments of the 2021 Golden Globes: Controversy Dominates, Chadwick Boseman Honored

Hosts, presenters, and award recipients all had something to say about the Golden Globes controversy; meanwhile, Chloé Zhao becomes second woman to win best director, and Andra Day's win shocks the winner herself.

by and | February 28, 2021 | Comments

The most anticipated topic for Sunday night’s Golden Globe awards  had to be how the Hollywood Foreign Press Association would address criticism about how it chooses winners and its membership roster. In a bicoastal broadcast that saw Tina Fey hosting from the Rainbow Room in Manhattan and Amy Poehler hosting from the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, the organization faced the music with its hosts, members, and even some award presenters and recipients referencing various points in the controversy.

First came criticism after the organization decided that Minari, the American film with mostly Korean dialogue, would compete in the “foreign” category; then came the noticeable snubbing of multiple projects featuring Black creatives and casts on nominations morning. And then, just a week out from the ceremony, the L.A. Times dropped a bombshell investigation into the makeup (zero Black journalists are members) and ethics of the 87-member group. (You can read the full piece here.) As the week went on, there were calls for guilds and media outlets to boycott the ceremony – and expectations rose that winners and presenters on the night would use the opportunity to call for reforms in the HFPA, and beyond. And… those expectations were met.

(See the full list of winners here.)

Read on to learn about the big wins and more of the best moments of the night.


Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, Jane Fonda, Address the Elephant in the Room

With the revelation that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association has not had a Black member in 20 years, and industry criticism of the organization mounting, it was announced before the show that the HFPA would address its membership controversy live during the show. And hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler were quick to address go there, directly taking on the “European weirdos” behind the Globes. Acknowledging that all “awards shows are stupid,” Fey and Poehler nonetheless reiterated that even with stupid things, inclusivity is important, and ended their opening urging the HFPA to do better, signing off: “Here’s to changing it.”

Later in the show, members of the HFPA took to the stage to acknowledge the organization has work to do, and that “we must have Black journalists in our organization.” And while accepting her Cecil B. DeMille award, Jane Fonda also said it was time Hollywood took a hard look at itself, including the groups that decide awards, and who was given access and opportunity. “Let’s all of us make an effort to expand that tent,” Fonda said, “so that everyone rises and everyone’s story has a chance to be seen and heard.”


Daniel Kaluuya’s Mic Mishap, Followed by a  Moving Tribute to Fred Hampton

Daniel Kaluuya’s win for Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture for his portrayal of Black Panther Chicago Chapter President Fred Hampton in Judas and the Black Messiah was no surprise – he’s an odds-on favorite to sail through awards season right through to Oscar night. What was shocking was an audio mishap that meant we – at first – could not hear Kaluuya give his acceptance speech, leaving confused presenter Laura Dern to congratulate Kaluuya again and start to move the show along. Thankfully, the issue was fixed and Kaluuya was able to give his acceptance speech, kicking off by saying “you’re doin’ me dirty” before paying tribute to his director, Shaka King, co-stars, and to Hampton himself. “He taught me about myself and made me grow as a man,” Kaluuya said.


John Boyega Breaks the Closed Captioning

Boyega’s powerful performance in Steve McQueen’s “Red, White and Blue” episode of Small Axe garnered the Star Wars alum the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor – Television. The British actor revealed that below his white jacket and shirt, he was wearing track pants and trainers. He said a few thank yous, and the rest of his speech was delivered in such a heavy accent that he broke the closed captioning, which just said, “Test, test, test…”


Bill Murray Being Bill Murray

He may not have won his category – Best Supporting Actor – but Bill Murray did win hearts on social media with his incredibly vibrant Hawaiian shirt and martini. (And by looking genuinely happy with Daniel Kaluuya’s win.)


The Kids Honor Chadwick Boseman

TikTok star La’Ron Hines delivered a tear-jerking moment in a pre-filmed segment that saw him asking preschool kids about the Golden Globes. None of the kids knew who Lin-Manuel Miranda was, nor how many people were in the Chicago 7, but in the closing section of the bit, all knew exactly who Chadwick Boseman was. “The Black Panther!” several answered enthusiastically, while one youngster simply said: “Chadwick Boseman is the good guy.”


Rosamund Pike, Jodie Foster Boost Oscar Chances With Shock Wins

Rosamund Pike

(Photo by Christopher Polk/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

Looking very Villanelle, Rosamund Pike was as shocked as most that she took out the Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy over frontrunner Maria Bakalova from Borat Subsequent MovieFilm. (We weren’t so shocked ourselves, we picked her in our predictions). The actress has been picking up steam this awards season for her turn as a dastardly legal guardian in the pitch-black comedy I Care A Lot and this latest win could see her nudge into the Oscar nominations when they are announced this March.

A little later in the evening, Jodie Foster surprised the pundits – and herself and guests downstairs – by winning Best Supporting Actress in A Motion Picture over more favored contenders Amanda Seyfried and Olivia Colman. The win just upped her chances for an Oscar nod for portrayal of a lawyer fighting for the freedom of a prisoner held without charge at Guantánamo Bay in true story, The Mauritanian.


Taylor Simone Ledward Accepts Best Actor on Behalf of Husband Chadwick Boseman


In the night’s most moving moment, Chadwick Boseman’s wife Taylor Simone Ledward accepted the late star’s award for Best Actor in A Motion Picture – Drama for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Fighting back tears, Ledward began by saying, “He would thank God. He would thank his parents. He would thank his ancestors for their guidance and their sacrifices.” She went on to say: “He would say something beautiful, something inspiring, something that would amplify that little voice inside all of us that tells you you can.”


Chloé Zhao Becomes Second Woman to Win Best Director

Chloé Zhao took home the award for Best Director for Nomadland and broke a number of records in the process: She became the first woman of Asian descent to win the award, and the first woman to win the award since Barbra Steeisand won for Yentl. That was in 1984. Accepting her award, Zhao paid tribute to the nomads of her film, and said, “Compassion is the breakdown of barriers between us.”


Norman Lear Makes Us Do Math in His Acceptance of the Carol Burnett Award


One of the best speeches of the night goes to 98-year-old Norman Lear. Called the most progressive producer in TV history, Lear thanked all of his past creative partners ― “They were all major parts of the life and career that brought me to this moment” ― and writers. His thank you to his family of five daughters, one son ― aged 26-74 ― and four grandchildren required us to do some math. “At close to 99, I’ve never lived alone, and I’ve never laughed alone, and that has as much to do with my being here today as anything else I know,” Lear said.


Jason Sudeikis Gives the Windiest Speech


The Golden Globe for Best Television Actor – Musical/Comedy Series goes to: Jason Sudeikis in a hoodie. The moment was actually less about Sudeikis’ “windy” speech than about his fellow nominee Don Cheadle giving him hand signals to wrap it up, which Tina Fey later noted had become a meme.


Andra Day’s Shocking — But Deserved — Win for Best Actress


In a field of titans – Viola Davis! Frances McDormand! – and when few had her as even an outside chance, singer-turned-actress Andra Day took home Best Actress In A Motion Picture – Drama for The United States Vs. Billie Holiday. Watch out for Day to move firmly into the Oscars race, now; with this win she picks up momentum for a heartbreaking portrayal of the titular jazz legend in Lee Daniels’ film.

Thumbnail photo by: Christopher Polk/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

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