It was a strange night at the 81st annual Golden Globe Awards filled with historic wins, lovely speeches, and some deeply awkward jokes

Ayo Edebiri accepts her award for ‘The Bear’ at the 2024 Golden Globes. RICH POLK/GOLDEN GLOBES 2024 VIA GETTY IMAGES

The Golden Globe Awards got a new look this year. Gone is the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a weird cabal of foreign journalists who love nothing more than accepting gifts and hobnobbing/taking selfies with talent. That shadowy outfit disbanded last year in the wake of scandal. Now, the Golden Globes are owned by Dick Clark Productions (a subsidiary of Rolling Stone owner PMC), air on CBS, and have a host that makes Taylor Swift and Greta Gerwig very uncomfortable.

Yes, the 81st annual Golden Globe Awards were hosted by Jo Koy, a last-minute hire who only had a couple of weeks to prepare for the gig after a number of other comics, from Chris Rock to Ali Wong, turned down hosting offers. Still, reducing a movie like Barbie, the highest-grossing film by a female director in cinema history, to a movie “based on a plastic doll with big boobies” during your groan-worthy monologue (causing Gerwig to sigh) and taking an inartful jab at Taylor Swift’s appearances on football telecasts (cut to: Swift looking pissed) was not a good look by Koy. Plus, Barbie took home only two awards — Best Original Song for the Billie Eilish and Finneas ballad “What Was I Made For?” and the first-ever one for Cinematic and Box Office Achievement — seems pretty egregious given the film’s quality and cultural impact. Though it did give us one of the night’s cutest red carpet moments, featuring Issa Rae and the girls of Recess Therapy:

Plus, the Golden Globes ran only a few minutes over — an impressive achievement on its own. Aside from the Barbie snubs, including surprise wins in Best Screenplay for Anatomy of a Fall and Poor Things in Best Motion Picture Musical or Comedy (coupled with a Ramy/Ruffalo smooch for the ages), most of the night’s big winners were expected — The Bear and Succession won Best Television Series Musical or Comedy and Drama, respectively, while Oppenheimer took home Best Motion Picture Drama and Best Director for Christopher Nolan.

Here are the five best (and worst!) moments of this year’s Golden Globes.

BEST: Ayo Edebiri and Kieran Culkin’s Back-to-Back Speeches

For a brief few minutes, all felt right in the universe when The Bear’s Ayo Edebiri (Best Actress in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy) and Succession’s Kieran Culkin (Best Actor in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy) won Golden Globes back to back. Edebiri kicked things off with a wonderfully nervous speech thanking the team on The Bear, her fellow nominees, and then “my real family also — I love you guys, too,” as well as “all of my agents and managers’ assistants” for “answering my crazy, crazy emails,” which earned a nod of approval from Swift in the crowd. Then came Culkin, who candidly said giving the speech was “a nightmare” before urging everyone to “sit down,” in that Roman Roy sarcastic tone and burping onstage, admonishing himself for “blowing it,” and telling fellow nominee Pedro Pascal to “suck it.” It’s honest, genuine, and unrehearsed moments like these that make awards shows great.

WORST: Joy Koy’s Monologue

At the risk of repeating myself, reducing Barbie to “big boobies” and blaming your writers when certain jokes bomb is awkward and lame, no matter how you cut it. Yes, Koy only had a few weeks to prepare, having been hired on Dec. 21 after many other comics passed, and that’s not a lot of time to prep a tight 10 of material. And yes, this is a pretty tough gig, lightly roasting a room full of sensitive celebs who are (for the most part) not game. But still, the writing was tired and uninspired. It’s not hard to, say, crack some jokes about how the people in the room must be relieved for not being named in the recent Epstein documents, or about how the ceremony took place one day after the Jan. 6 insurrection, or about the ridiculousness of the recently departed Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Koy, who is half-Filipino, is one of the more famous Asian-American comics around and didn’t even have any good cracks at Beef. He’s a talented stand-up and capable of way better than this.

BEST: Lily Gladstone’s Historic Win

Gladstone, who is of Piegan Blackfeet and Nez Perce descent and grew up on a reservation in Montana, became the first Indigenous actor to win a Golden Globe in its 81-year history when she took home Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama for her devastating performance as Molly Burkhart, an Osage woman slowly poisoned to death for the headrights to her oil-rich land by her white husband (Leonardo DiCaprio), in Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon. Gladstone opened her speech by saying some words in the Blackfeet language. Then, she acknowledged the history of racism against Native actors in Hollywood, who would “speak their lines in English, and then the sound mixers would run them backward to accomplish Native languages on camera.” Finally, she dedicated her “historic” win to “every little res kid, every little urban kid, every little Native kid out there who has a dream, who is seeing themselves represented and our stories told by ourselves, in our own words, with tremendous allies and tremendous trust.”

WORST: That Taylor Swift Dig

Following the aforementioned opening monologue, Koy came out for a few more jokes before he was largely disappeared for the second half of the show, and one of them was focused on Taylor Swift, who was in the crowd as a nominee for Cinematic and Box Office Achievement for her high-grossing Eras Tour documentary. “The big difference between the Golden Globes and the NFL: on the Golden Globes, we have few camera shots of Taylor Swift,” joked Koy. The camera then cut to Swift who seemed unamused, staring blankly at the comic while taking a sip of bubbly from her flute. It’s not that Koy’s dig at Taylor Swift was out of bounds — comedians should be able to joke about anyone and everything — it’s that it was lazy, basically amounting to “Hey, they sure show her a lot during NFL games, don’t they?” Koy even apologized onstage when the joke was met with an awkward silence, which is never a good sign. Later on, Bill Hader was caught snapping selfies (presumably for his daughters) with Swift, so at least she didn’t let it ruin her evening.  

BEST: Kristen Wiig & Will Ferrell

Most of the presenters — or rather, the writing for the presenters — mailed it in tonight. How do you have Matt Damon and Ben Affleck present together and not write them a fun bit? Why did Kate Beckinsale and Don Cheadle present the award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama? Did some other folks cancel? Who paired Hunter Schafer with Justin Hartley? Why wasn’t Meghan Markle presenting with her Suits castmates? Does she not like standing ovations? Anyway, at least SNL pals Kristen Wiig and Will Ferrell ginned up an inspired, silly little bit involving a dumb song that keeps interrupting them mid-presenting. It’s not even that great of a bit conceptually, but Wiig and Ferrell’s commitment to it takes it over the finish line.

From Rolling Stone US.

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