By David Fear and Phoebe Reilly
There’s are many reasons we tune in every year to watch the Golden Globes: the huge celebrity presence, the ability to gauge what will win big for the rest of the awards season, the red carpet fashions. Mostly, however, we watch because every year, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) throw what is essentially the “Drunk Oscars.” (Judges would have also accepted the “Inebriated Emmys.”) The 72nd annual ceremony was no exception, giving viewers the chance to watch movie and TV stars act a little more loose-lipped and a little less formally than they might at other awards shows. (By the way, can we give it up for Tina Fey and Amy Poehler — hands down the best hosts the Globes have ever had the privilege of allowing to grace their stage? These ladies crack us up and class up the joint something fierce.)
Here are the best and worst moments from last night’s broadcast — from scathing Bill Cosby jokes to heartfelt speeches to Kevin Hart shamelessly plugging his new movie. We’ll see you next year, Golden Globes.
BEST: Tina and Amy’s Monologue
For the past few years, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler’s opening monologue have not just been the highlight of the Golden Globes; it’s been the best part of the awards season overall, in which famous people and industry pomposity get zinged by comic snipers instead of Borscht Belt comedians. Since the duo had said this is the last year they will host the Globes, expectations ran high as to their final introduction — and if it did not quote reach the heights of their previous roasts, their attack this year still did not disappoint. “Welcome, you bunch of despicable, spoiled, minimally talented brats,” Fey opened with, and it kept going from there — they landed blows about the many accomplishments of Amal Alamuddin (a.k.a. George Clooney’s wife) before grousing that he was the one getting the Lifetime Achievement award, Wes Anderson arriving on a “bicycle made of vintage tuba parts” and, noting Steve Carell’s Foxcatcher make-up, that it took Fey three hours to prepare for her part as “human woman.” The best, however, was saved for last: a lacerating Bill Cosby riff in which they took turns impersonating the comedian describing how he “gave the PILLS to the PEOPLE.” We will miss you more than you know, Tina and Amy.
BEST: Margaret Cho Taking a Selfie with Meryl Streep
We assumed there would be some Interview jokes, and indeed, Tina Fey made a dig early on by noting that this year’s ceremony was celebrating “all the movies that North Korea was okay with.” But then came Margaret Cho’s “Cho Young Jah” — the “newest member of the HPFA” and a reminder that long before Randall Park, the comedienne was impersonating Kim Jung-un as a tyrannical manchild. When asked who she wanted to take a photo with, Cho pointed to Streep — and got Michael Keaton to take a picture of them on her phone. It was no Ellen celebrity selfie blitz, but it got big laughs nonetheless.
WORST: Benedict Cumberbatch ‘Winning’ a Presentation Slot
We’re willing to forgive Fey, Poehler and Benedict Cumberbatch just about anything, and not just because he’s so dreamy (though ‘fess up, you know he is). But that “whoever raises their hand first gets to present with Jennifer Aniston” gag felt forced from the get go, and we felt bad that the Imitation Game actor had to suffer through that awkward stage banter and the Friends star getting huffy about him stepping on her lines.
BEST: Billy Bob Thornton’s Brevity
You can’t fault awards-show attendees for wanting/needing to acknowledge the complicated, un-red-carpeted world beyond the walls of the Beverly Hilton — but you can sometimes hear their speechifying as a whole lotta sanctimonious hooey. Bless Thornton for summarizing thusly: “These days you can say anything in the world and get in trouble.” He could be talking about Charlie Hebdo, or he could be talking about the frisson of internet outrage that greets almost everything that happens anywhere. Hell, he could be talking about Angelina Jolie. But this speech was mercifully brief and oddly forceful.
BEST: Prince, Being Prince
It’s a scientifically proven fact that the mere presence of Prince at any place — an awards show, Saturday Night Live, your cousin’s bar mitzvah — makes it roughly 250-percent better, and that was certainly true at the Golden Globes. Strutting out onto the stage with either a silver cane or the world’s most expensive selfie stick to present the award for Best Original Song, the musical genius sent a wave of electricity throughout the crowd. Famous jaws dropped and movie-star eyes bugged out; both Louis C.K. and Channing Tatum starting loudly whistling. With that psychedelic afro and straight outta Paisley Park get-up, Prince let everybody know that royalty was in the house by doing nothing more than being Prince.
WORST: Katie Holmes and Seth Meyers on Breakfast Buffets
Never mind that it was somewhat of an odd pairing to begin with: the former Dawson’s Creek star and the funnyman host of Late Night With Seth Meyers. But stuck with a painfully flat joke about non-winners getting a gift certificate to the breakfast buffet at the Beverly Hilton, Holmes and Meyers tried to gamely sell the gag before announcing the Best Supporting Actor in a Mini-Series award and ended up flatlining. Granted, almost nobody could have made that crack about Daniel Day-Lewis trying to redeem the offer work, but the duo’s desperation by the end would have made Jack Lemmon’s character in Glengarry Glen Ross cringe.
BEST: Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig Riffing on ‘Famous Lines’
“Kids, I really — I gotta get back to my planet” is hands down the best Taboo clue for E.T. that will ever exist. If Poehler and Fey are indeed out, let’s nominate The Skeleton Twins stars in their stead, because you have to leave this stuff to the professionals, and these two together are pure synchronicity. Their extended double act when presenting the Best Screenplay Award left us wanting more. Even when they fall apart, they keep it together. “Guys, relax,” as Jack in Titanic (basically) said, and we do.
BEST: Ricky Gervais Brings the Heat
With his drink in hand, Gervais managed a joke at Hollywood’s expense without actually delivering it — an impressive feat, really, but somehow on the former Golden Globes host’s tongue, even a faux swipe at Katie Holmes carries with it a real zing. It’s only a shame that Quvenzhané Wallis’s name was intentionally mispronounced, because she doesn’t get to hear it said correctly enough. Hopefully, she feels the Adele Dazeem callback was worth it. Come back, Ricky, all is forgiven.
WORST: Jeremy Renner Commenting on Jennifer Lopez’s ‘Golden Globes’
Presumably, you noticed Jennifer Lopez’s boobs. So did your mom, so did your local barista, so did everyone with a pair of eyes. But did Renner need to call them out like a common street harasser? In the middle of presenting an award? (Can we please just issue a moratorium on the whole Golden Globes jokes regarding the female anatomy already?) The guy already has some issues breaking with his Method-brand of intensity, and this comment didn’t keep a safe enough distance from creepy to be actually funny.
BEST: Wes Anderson Ribbing the HFPA
Rocking a lovely checkered shirt and bowtie combination, Wes Anderson started his acceptance speech for Best Director for a Motion Picture, Comedy (for The Grand Budapest Hotel) for mentioning who he wasn’t going to thank: his cast, his crew, his early supporters James L. Brooks and Polly Platt. “Instead, I’m going to focus on the membership of the Hollywood Foreign Press,” he drolly declared, before whipping out a long series of foreign-sounding names, each of which could have been the moniker of a Wes Anderson character. It was odd and irreverent, unsentimental and sublimely witty — in other words, exactly what you would want a Wes Anderson acceptance speech to be.
WORST: That Pandering Charlie Hebdo Reference
You could see loads of celebrities sporting Charlie Hebdo pins on the red carpet, and we’re sure that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association president (and per Poehler, “tall Dutch drink of water”) Theo Kingma felt a need to address the tragedy. But after making a DOA attempt at joking that nobody knew who he was, Kingma then said that the HFPA would stand united against anyone who’d repress free speech, be it in North Korea “or Paris.” The audience rose to their feet, but the sentiment rang false; it truly felt like someone playing to the crowd rather than trying to make a statement, making it one of the more awkward — and exploitative — moments of the evening.
BEST: Michael Keaton’s Speech
It’s one of the great comeback stories of 2014: Michael Keaton, reminding folks of what they’d been missing, with his lead performance in the poison pen to blockbuster movies known as Birdman. As the Globes differentiate between comedic and dramatic performances — thus sparing the actor from having to go up against the awards-season juggernaut that is The Theory of Everything‘s Eddie Redmayne — it wasn’t a surprise that Keaton nabbed the Best Actor in a Comedy role. What was a little surprising, however, was how passionate and moving his speech was, from his praise of Alejandro Inarritu (“There isn’t an actor or actress who won’t show up [to your next film]”) to tearfully thanking his “best friend,” his son. But it was his simple, straightforward declaration of who he is — “My name is Michael John Douglas, I’m from Forest Grove, Pennsylvania” — that just nailed us. For a second, our cynicism about awards season went completely M.I.A.
WORST: ‘The Affair’ Winning Best TV Drama
Congratulations are in order to Showtime, who’s new he said/she said handwringer The Affair (featuring alumni from The Wire, Luther and Dawson’s Creek) took home the coveted Best TV Series, Drama award. But while we applaud the unpredictability factor here, the fact that a shaky-at-best show that relies way too heavily on its dual-perspective gimmick ended up beating HBO’s stellar pop-fantasy Game of Thrones (after a genuinely great season) and what’s arguably the strongest drama on network TV today — The Good Wife — seems, by most any viewpoint, a WTF headscratcher.
BEST: George Clooney Accepting the Cecil B. DeMille Award
A thin excuse to reunite Nurse Carol Hathaway and Dr. Doug Ross if ever there was one! (Kidding, of course.) Everybody loves Clooney, and the Michael Clayton star has done a great job of convincing everybody that he loves them, too. This tribute even earned a slight smile from grumpiest-man-of-the-evening Bill Murray, who was probably just thankful that the montage committee included Clooney’s most important scene ever: Doug rescuing that little boy from the flooded culvert. Nobody doesn’t remember that. Appointment television — it used to be a thing.
WORST: Kevin Hart Plugging His New Movie
Look, we know that this event serves double duty as a chance to give out awards for the previous year’s prestige pics and TV shows, and for stars to advertise their upcoming gigs. But there was something about Kevin Hart’s faux-disingenuous plugging of his movie The Wedding Ringer, and how hard he laughed at said false promotion (“My movie comes out Friday…[but] that’s not why I’m not here”), that just felt kind of showbiz hucksterish to a fault. He was trying to make light of the fact that yes, this is also a great big platform for pitching coming-soon-to-a-theater-near-you projects — but maybe honesty isn’t always the best policy.
BEST: ‘Transparent’ Wins Best Comedy and Actor
Jill Soloway’s brilliant series about a a trans woman struggling to live her gender publicly for the first time is important, yes, but all the more so because the writer-director has managed to avoid all the dutiful earnestness you’d expect given its subject. In Soloway’s clever and capable hands, Maura Pfefferman (played by Jeffrey Tambor) turns out to have a stronger grasp on her identity than the rest of her messy, mixed-up family. Both Transparent and Tambor deserved to win, but the fact that they did was a most exciting surprise — with Soloway thanking her own “moppa” and the actor namechecking the show’s many trans cast and crew. It was arguably the biggest victory of the night.
BEST: Chris Pratt and Anna Faris: The Most Charming Couple Alive
Pratt and Faris are one of those rare celebrity couples that have you wishing your own relationship would fall apart before theirs ever does. Joking together onstage while presenting an award, they’re so damn cute, funny and down to earth that there’s a even a shred of possibility that they’re not gluten-free. Let’s hope their plans to raise an HBO baby in a CBS/NBC household work out, and that they always take the same helicopter home together.
BEST: Maggie Gyllenhaal’s ‘Actual Women’ Speech
As Nessa Stein in The Honorable Woman, Gyllenhaal was regal and articulate, vulnerable and intelligent — all qualities that the actress herself possesses. It’s why she was able to deftly amend any feminist statements that might have sounded like mere lip service by clarifying that this year was not about women’s triumphalism, but the triumph of, as she says, “actual women.” It was an appreciated distinction, and an all-around wonderful speech.
BEST: ‘Boyhood’ Takes Best Motion Picture, Drama
It’s certainly not at the expense of the other nominated films that we say this — but Boyhood was such a unique endeavor, achieving its poignancy in part because it captured the passage of 12 years time. Linklater has shown us such humanity over the years in indie-leaning films like Dazed and Confused and the Before trilogy that it was rewarding to see this genuine labor of love take home the top award. Fans of the filmmaker have long championed his idiosyncratic vision and willingness to experiment. It’s great to see the mainstream get on board as well.
WORST: Not Enough Tina Fey and Amy Poehler!
Maybe, as Poehler joked in the opening monologue, last night should have been the 72nd and final ceremony — because Tina and Amy are an impossible act to follow. So why wasn’t there more of them? It seemed like they mostly disappeared after that killer opening, and unless their Iñárritu and Linklater fantasies were coming true, it was an unacceptable gaff. (Blame Clooney, that gasbag!) You had the best hosts in the business gracing your stage one last time, Golden Globes. Why didn’t you use them more?