78th Golden Globes kicks off awards season with socially distanced audience, technical difficulties

Netflix’s powerhouse royal drama “The Crown” emerged as the biggest winner of the night.

by Jack Hargrove | 3/4/21 2:09am

by Elizabeth Janowski / The Dartmouth Senior Staff

On Sunday, the 78th Golden Globe Awards began the strangest awards season in recent memory. The ceremony was held mostly virtually, with half taking place in New York and half in Los Angeles. Instead of the usual array of celebrities, the in-person audience was made up entirely of socially distanced first responders and essential workers, while the nominees all teleconferenced in. 

The ceremony was simultaneously hosted by Golden Globe regulars Tina Fey in New York and Amy Poehler in Los Angeles, who returned as hosts for the first time since their three-year-in-a-row hosting stint from 2013 to 2015. Their style was markedly different from Ricky Gervais’ at last year’s ceremony, whose acerbic and confrontational style made headlines. While Fey and Poehler did criticize the Hollywood Foreign Press Association — the non-profit organization whose members cast ballots for the awards — for their overall lack of diversity, the duo were much more amicable in general.

The virtual aspects of the ceremony naturally resulted in some technical difficulties and awkward moments. The most notable occurred early on, when Daniel Kaluuya gave the first half of his acceptance speech for Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture on mute. Every acceptance speech was given virtually, and while no other had a technical issue as serious, it still resulted in an uncomfortable atmosphere. However, the Golden Globes did the best they could have given the circumstances.

Moving on to the actual awards, the biggest winner of the night was “The Crown,” winning Best Television Series – Drama, as well as three other awards. “The Queen’s Gambit” and “Schitt’s Creek” came in with the second-most awards for television series, winning two apiece. For films, “Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm,” “Soul” and “Nomadland'' each won two awards, with “Nomadland” winning Best Motion Picture – Drama. Overall, though, no one film or show clearly dominated. Here are some of the winners of the night’s major awards:


Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy: “Schitt’s Creek”

After receiving a whopping 15 nominations and sweeping all four major acting categories in last year’s Primetime Emmy Awards, “Schitt’s Creek” entered one of the final awards shows of its run in top form. While the other shows nominated in the category were also strong contenders, particularly Apple TV’s “Ted Lasso” and HBO Max’s “The Flight Attendant,” “Schitt’s Creek” was certainly the favorite to win given its performance at the Emmys, as well as the fact that it just aired its final season.

Best Television Series – Drama: “The Crown”

This year’s category for best television drama had an impressive selection of nominees. These included Netflix’s “Ozark,” led by Jason Bateman, Disney+’s Star Wars spin-off “The Mandalorian” and Netflix’s “Ratched,” a prequel to “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” Ultimately, however, it was unsurprisingly the fourth season of Netflix’s powerhouse royal drama “The Crown” that took the award. Despite receiving some criticism for historical inaccuracies, impressive acting performances propelled “The Crown” to victory.

Best Actor in a Television Series – Drama: Josh O’Connor in “The Crown”

The field for best actor in a television drama was packed with talent, including Jason Bateman in “Ozark,” Bob Odenkirk in “Better Call Saul” and the legendary Al Pacino in “Hunters.” However, it was Josh O’Connor’s turn as Charles, Prince of Wales in “The Crown” that took the award. The acting in “The Crown” is its greatest asset, and O’Connor’s performance was among the best in the latest season.

Best Actress in a Television Series – Drama: Emma Corrin in “The Crown”

Speaking of the stellar acting in “The Crown,” two of the five nominees for the category of best actress in a television drama were from the show: Olivia Colman for her role as Queen Elizabeth II and Emma Corrin for her role as Diana, Princess of Wales. Corrin ultimately won the award, beating out Jodie Comer of “Killing Eve,” Laura Linney of “Ozark” and Sarah Paulson of “Ratched.”


Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy: “Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm”

One of the most heavily publicized movies of 2020, “Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm,” won the award for best comedy or musical film. As the long-awaited sequel to the 2006 film “Borat,” complete with the appearance of Rudy Giuliani in one of its gags, it makes sense that this film was a favorite heading into the awards. The rest of the field was relatively weak; its closest competitor was “Palm Springs,” a great comedy starring Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti. However, the other three nominated films — including Disney+’s live stage recording of the Broadway musical “Hamilton” and “Music,” the controversial film produced by singer-songwriter Sia — were weaker, giving the win handily to “Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm.”

Best Motion Picture – Drama: “Nomadland”

“Nomadland,” directed by Chloé Zhao, took home the most prestigious award of the night. While not a box office success, “Nomadland” received critical acclaim and has been most frequently listed on film critics’ top movie lists for 2020. Frances McDormand’s beautiful performance as Fern, a woman who travels the American west, as well as Zhao’s expert direction made this win well-deserved, beating out other great films like “Mank,” “The Trial of the Chicago 7” and “The Father.” Zhao also won the award for Best Director.

Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy: Sacha Baron Cohen in “Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm”

In addition to winning the best comedy film section above, Sacha Baron Cohen won the award for best actor in a comedy film for his role of the titular Borat Sagdiyev in “Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm.” Given the format of the film, Cohen’s acting performance was quite different from the other actors nominated in the category; while he was playing a character, most of the other people in the film were unwitting non-actors. Other notable nominees in the category were Andy Samberg for his performance as Nyles in “Palm Springs” and Lin Manuel-Miranda as Alexander Hamilton in  “Hamilton.”

Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama: Chadwick Boseman in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”

To no one’s surprise, Chadwick Boseman posthumously won the award for best actor in a dramatic film for his role as Levee Green in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” While there were other great performances in contention, including Gary Oldman as Herman Mankiewicz in “Mank” and Anthony Hopkins as Anthony in “The Father,” Boseman’s sudden death from cancer at just 43 in August, combined with his incredible performance, made his victory in the category all but guaranteed.

Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama: Andra Day in “The United States vs. Billie Holiday”

Andra Day won the award for best actress in a dramatic film for her role as singer Billie Holiday in the biopic “The United States vs. Billie Holiday.” While the film received mixed reviews for its writing and direction, Day’s performance was near-universally acclaimed. Day faced fierce competition from Frances McDormand’s role as Fern in “Nomadland” and Viola Davis as Ma Rainey in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” but ultimately Day came out on top.