The Golden Globes 2019 kicked off awards season with some big surprises and some very weird wins. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association is an oft-mocked organization who have managed to insert themselves into the Oscar conversation through sheer will and good timing alone. A group with around 90 members, all of whom are journalists and photographers who report on the entertainment industry for non-American media, the HFPA are widely derided for their hunger for fame and questionable decisions. Their Golden Globe Awards, founded in 1944, were created in part to offer an alternative to the Oscars that was voted on by press and not the industry, much like the various critics circle awards given out around this time of year. Because it happens at the beginning of the year, the show is generally considered the official beginning of awards season, but the veracity of these awards has consistently been questioned over the years. Remember when The Tourist got nominated for Best Musical/Comedy in 2011 alongside Burlesque? No awards board is above nominating films of suspect quality - the Oscars do it all the time - but it's the HFPA who have the biggest reputation for being beholden to trends and celebrity.
However, it's still considered a big deal to win a Golden Globe and it can help cement a movie's journey to the Academy Awards by creating the right narrative. This year’s ceremony, which took place last night, is a prime example of that. But it was also a night of surprises and, to put it bluntly, weird choices.
A lot of expected wins didn’t happen - see: almost everything A Star is Born was nominated for - and ones that did raised more than a few eyebrows. The Golden Globes are known for making more esoteric choices than the Oscars, who historically love to play it safe, and the results can be both delightful and utterly infuriating. Here are the Golden Globe wins that surprised us the most in a very weird year.
- This Page: Golden Globes 2019 Film Award Surprises
- Page 2: Golden Globes 2019 TV Award Surprises
Rami Malek and Bohemian Rhapsody Win Big
Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody overcame middling reviews, controversy over its depiction of Freddie Mercury and the impossible to ignore elephant in the room that is Bryan Singer to win not only Best Drama but the Best Actor award for Rami Malek. Bradley Cooper had been the favorite to win the award going into the night but Malek had built up a lot of industry goodwill for his acclaimed performance and there’s nothing awards season loves more than a biopic.
This proved to be the most controversial win of the night as critics by and large had major problems with the movie, from its questionable quality on a basic film-making level to the treatment of Mercury itself at the hands of surviving band members and Queen estate holders Brian May and Roger Taylor. Yet none of that seemed to matter to the HFPA; or audiences for that matter, as Bohemian Rhapsody overtook Deadpool 2 to become the eighth highest grossing movie of the year.
Oscar voting just opened up and this publicity certainly won’t hurt Bohemian Rhapsody's chances, but there’s only so far they can carry this campaign while ignoring the all too real issue of multiple accusations of sexual assault against Singer, who was fired from the film for unprofessional on-set behavior. Only one year on from the striking Golden Globes ceremony where #TimesUp took front and center, this win was a bitter pill to swallow for many and a stark reminder of the work that needs to be done before systemic change can take root.
Glenn Close Beats Lady Gaga For Best Actress
Glenn Close entered the Oscars race early last Summer with The Wife, an indie drama based on the novel by Meg Wolitzer that received respectable reviews overall but garnered instant acclaim for its lead. While Close has been active on the awards season trailer and has a handful of critics wins to her name, she had mostly fallen out of the Oscars conversation. Most experts had predicted that she would lose in the category of Best Actress in a Drama to Lady Gaga, whose work in A Star is Born has been one of the most talked about elements of awards season for several months now. Close had already won two Golden Globes in the past and the HFPA love nothing more than anointing fresh new talent, so Gaga’s win seemed inevitable.
But then it wasn’t. Much to the surprise of everyone in the room – including Close herself – she won the award and gave one if the night’s most heartfelt speeches. The win puts Close back in contention for the Oscar, although her main competition is now the other Best Actress winner of the night, Olivia Colman from The Favourite.
Green Book Becomes An Oscar Frontrunner
Green Book was always going to be a big Oscar player from the moment it opened at the Toronto International Film Festival to rapturous reviews and took him the much-coveted audience award. However, the film has also had to deal with controversies surrounding the veracity of its supposedly true story, particularly after the family of one of the subjects, jazz pianist Don Shirley, refuted many of those claims and condemned its portrayal of him.
Much like the backlash over race didn’t seem to hurt Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri at the Golden Globes, none of that seemed to effect Green Book, which took home three awards, including Best Comedy/Musical and Best Screenplay. Other films like Vice and The Favourite seemed more likely as winners but Peter Farrelly’s movie had the upper advantage.
However, the question now is whether it can carry that hype to the Oscars or if the Three Billboards situation will repeat itself. Whatever the case, the controversies aren’t going away any time soon and the film-makers must grapple with the realities of their situation.
Only One Award for A Star is Born
One of the downsides of awards season is that it’s very easy to spend months at a time making assumptions. It doesn’t take much to find yourself swept up in a convenient narrative, like believing certain films or actors will win everything because that’s just the way it goes. Of all the films that are currently part of the Oscars conversation, A Star is Born is easily the one that’s swallowed up the most oxygen in the room. It is impossible to avoid chat about it or insistence that Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut will dominate every ceremony it attends.
Yet it only took home one award at the Globes, despite being nominated for five and seeming like the exact kind of film the HFPA love to award. Bradley Cooper went home empty-handed. Lady Gaga did not win Best Actress in a Drama as so many had predicted. Ultimately, the one award it took home went to Best Song for "Shallow", so at least Gaga got one statue out of the evening.
It’s tough to assert that this means A Star is Born won’t do well at the Oscars. There’s a vast difference between the 90 or so voters of the HFPA and the thousands of members of the Academy. But what this does do is put a puncture in that seemingly invincible image of A Star is Born as the juggernaut of the season.