The Hollywood Foreign Press Association is gearing up to hand out its annual Golden Globe Awards this weekend, and we’re getting ready for the ceremony by looking back at some previous winners. And some of our findings have us straight-up confounded.
Our confusion has come for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, we simply forget one of the winning shows or movies ever existed. In other instances, we’ve been surprised that the awardees were involved with the project the HFPA recognized them for. And every once in a while, we just didn’t understand how a particular winning work ever earned any recognition because it seems too terrible to merit it.
We congratulate all of the winners and nominees, to be clear. But we don’t always understand. Here are 15 Golden Globe-winning movies and TV shows that got our puzzlers going.
15. Sherlock Holmes – Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Director Guy Ritchie’s updated version of the classic Victorian detective is super stylish and entertaining, but we weren’t really lining up to shower it with accolades. In fact, it was more notable to us as a return to form for Ritchie, whose earlier brilliance with films like Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch gave way to a slump with duds like Swept Away. And we really enjoyed composer Hans Zimmer’s weird, jaunty score.
But neither Ritchie nor Zimmer won the Globe for Sherlock Holmes; that recognition went to Iron Man himself, Robert Downey Jr., who beat out Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Stuhlbarg, Daniel Day-Lewis, and Matt Damon for the prize. And again, we liked his performance well enough, uncanny English accent aside, but we completely forgot that it was an award-winning role.
Downey didn’t receive an Oscar nomination – although Zimmer did because that score really is incredible. But everyone knew that Jeff Bridges was going to win for Crazy Heart, anyway, so it probably didn’t matter.
14. Nurse Betty – Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical Or Comedy
Nurse Betty is one of those movies that we forgot ever existed, even though it doesn’t have anything significantly wrong with it. Renée Zellweger plays a soap opera-obsessed housewife who suffers a psychotic break after she sees two hitmen (Morgan Freeman and Chris Rock) murder her drug-dealing, bemulleted husband (Aaron Eckhart). In her fugue, she believes she’s a character on her favorite TV show, and she heads to Los Angeles to reunite with her “former fiancé,” a fictional surgeon from the same program.
It’s a weird, dark comedy, and it’s completely watchable. For us, however, it was just one of those films that started to leave our brains as soon as the credits rolled.
It was significant for Zellweger, however, who snagged a Globe for her work as the title character. This was the first in her impressive run of recognition for both this award and the Oscar; between 2001 and 2007, she received nine nominations and four wins: three Golden Globes for Betty, Chicago, and Cold Mountain, and an Academy Award for the latter. Her later work in the more dramatic roles has just overshadowed this weird, quirky role that started her streak.
13. Crocodile Dundee – Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical Or Comedy
We’re living in a post-Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles world, so it’s easy to forget that first film in the series was a massive worldwide hit that grossed over $300 million worldwide on a modest budget. And we certainly don’t blame the HFPA for showing it some love in the form of a Best Actor award for star Paul Hogan. Or maybe they were just nervous about not giving it to him after that scene in the otherwise wacky comedy movie in which he stabs a crocodile in the brain.
The Aussie beat Jeff Daniels, Danny DeVito, Jack Lemmon, and Matthew Broderick for the prize. And if we were just looking at a list of the nominees, we’d probably assume that Broderick would win for his career-defining role in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, a movie so beloved and influential that last year’s Deadpool plays direct homage to it in a post-credits scene.
12. Beauty and the Beast – Best Actor – TV Series Drama
We know we need to clarify here, because we can think of four projects right now called Beauty and the Beast. But obviously we don’t mean the upcoming live-action adaptation because it’s not out yet, nor are we talking about Disney’s 1991 animated feature that inspired it. Sure, the latter film won three Golden Globes, but that’s not surprising because it is downright magical.
And luckily, we don’t mean The CW’s bizarre TV series that recently ended its four season run and is about “an ex-soldier who goes into hiding from the secret government organization that turned him into a mechanically charged beast,” according to its description on IMDb. But maybe it was completely awesome, and we just missed out, but we were too busy watching The Flash and Arrow to clear some room for it in our schedule.
No, the winner we’re talking about here is the original, 1987 romantic drama that starred The Terminator‘s Linda Hamilton until she left the show due to a pregnancy, and villains unceremoniously killed off her character with a lethal dose of morphine. Ron Perlman scored a Globe for his portrayal of Vincent, the elegant, sewer-dwelling cat-man, and while we think he deserves every award in the world, we’d just kind of forgotten that it was him under that glorious mane.
11. The Woman in Red – Best Original Song – Motion Picture
Sometimes, an original song’s legacy far outlives that of the film it appears in, and that’s definitely true for this mostly forgettable picture that 2016 casualty Gene Wilder wrote, directed, and starred in.
The Woman in Red is about an ostensibly happily married man named Teddy who spends the entire movie obsessed with and stalking a beautiful woman (Weird Science‘s Kelly Le Brock) after an errant gust of wind Monroes her dress over her head, and he sees her underwear. He goes on to do everything necessary to get close to her while avoiding the advances of another woman whom he accidentally declares his affection for and, you know, his wife. It all sounds terrifying, but this is a comedy.
We don’t know what else to say about the movie other than that it’s gross and has a Golden Globe to its credit thanks to Stevie Wonder’s “I Just Called to Say I Love You,” which also won an Oscar because it’s that good. Wonder beat Paul McCartney (“No More Lonely Nights”), Kenny Loggins (“Footloose”), Ray Parker Jr. (“Ghostbusters”), Phil Collins (“Against All Odds”), and freaking Prince (“When Doves Cry”) for this accolade, so he definitely deserves some credit. We’re just sorry that the film his song came packaged with was such garbage.
10. Home Improvement – Best Actor – Television Series Musical or Comedy
We can’t say that Home Improvement is a bad show; we were pretty fond of it when we were kids because we are just that old. But even at the time, we were a little surprised that it picked up a win.
Tim Allen grunted his way to a Globe over the likes of Kelsey Grammar (Frasier), Jerry Seinfeld (Seinfeld), and Garry Shandling (The Larry Sanders Show), all of whom created work that is still listed among the greatest TV ever produced. It was weird then, and it’s weird now, especially since Allen has gone on to arguably better work in the Toy Story series before returning to TV with Last Man Standing, which continues his increasingly archaic battle-of-the-sexes routine.
We don’t want to make this entire entry about how little we appreciate the bulk of Tim Allen’s work, so we’ll just leave it at pointing out that Home Improvement didn’t even have the best theme song of the shows nominated in this category.
9. Twin Peaks – Best Drama, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress
We’re excited that Twin Peaks is returning this year for a limited run on Showtime after its prophesied 25(-ish)-year break, and we can’t wait to catch up with the oddball town and its weird residents and maybe get some real closure about the series’ so-far unresolved cliffhanger.
Despite only airing 30 episodes over two seasons, Twin Peaks is one of the most beloved TV shows ever, and it boasts one of the most devoted and involved fanbases since Star Trek. It’s the quintessential cult classic, and that status has actually overshadowed the fact that it was remarkably well received when it first aired.
The first season was, anyway; viewership dropped off after it wrapped up its central mystery of the murder of Laura Palmer, and subsequent plot lines weren’t nearly as engaging. It was a tough act to follow, and if you’re going to move on from a mystery that includes demonic possession, parallel dimensions of pure evil, and a dancing dwarf who used to be a shoe salesman’s arm, you’re going to have to do better than a dull love triangle and a campaign to save an admittedly adorable weasel. Only the most diehard of fans stuck around, and it even took a grassroots effort to convince ABC to air the final six episodes at all.
Its brevity makes it easy to regard Twin Peaks as one of those shows that uncaring network heads took out because they just didn’t get it, man. At the beginning, it received wide critical acclaim and fistfuls of award nominations and wins. At the 1991 ceremony, it took home three Golden Globes for Best Drama, Best Actor (Kyle MacLachlan), and Best Supporting Actress (Piper Laurie). It absolutely deserved these accolades … for the first season, anyway. That second one is a very tough sell in the middle.
8. Nip/Tuck – Best Drama – Television Series
Creator Ryan Murphy’s plastic-surgery melodrama, like the Crocodile Dundee series, started out strong before it crashed harder than we thought possible. But its Globe win for Best Drama Series came after its excellent second season, so we understand that, at least.
It just gets hard to remember the better times after subsequent years took a cannula to all of that goodwill and sucked it out like so much butt fat. The third season includes a ludicrous plot thread about a serial face-slasher (a plastic surgeon’s natural enemy, surely) who turns out to be the most obvious suspect they could have picked, and everything gets trashier and more embarrassing from there. It destroys moderate and interesting character development because drama, and the least sympathetic character, who is responsible for at least one murder and both hate and sex crimes, sees neither repercussions nor redemption. He just keeps being the worst until the show ends.
7. Tommy – Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
The film adaptation of rock band The Who’s pivotal album is another of those projects that seems way too cult-ish to have earned mainstream attention. And we aren’t just saying that because one of its major plot points is the title character’s creation of a huge cult.
Remember also that this is just a super weird movie that contains an iron maiden designed to administer massive amounts of psychotropic drugs and a scene in which Ann-Margaret cavorts gratuitously in torrents of champagne, baked beans, and liquid chocolate. You know what, though? Now that we watch that scene again, we want to give her an award just for going through with that nonsense and selling it like any other sequence in a normal movie.
The HFPA agreed, apparently, and it gave her the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical. She beat Barbra Streisand, Liza Minnelli, Julie Christie, and Goldie Hawn, who probably took some consolation in the knowledge that their roles didn’t require a number of showers roughly equivalent to a car wash after each take.
6. Three’s Company – Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress
Three’s Company is one of those shows that seems ridiculous and quaint when we look back on it. Sure, it was from a far simpler time in which all that was necessary for comedy to happen was for one character to pretend that he was gay. And somehow, that and a seemingly infinite supply of misunderstandings carried the series for eight seasons.
But the Golden Globes award performances and not premises, so it racked up four nominations and two wins across its run. Co-star Norman Fell nabbed a Globe for Best Supporting Actor in 1979, beating three different actors from Taxi, and John Ritter beat Dabney Coleman, Ted Danson, Bob Newhart, and Robert Guillaume in the Best Actor category at the 1984 ceremony.
5. Avatar – Best Drama, Best Director
Director James Cameron’s Avatar is a technological marvel that represents huge advances in both fantastical settings and filming in 3-D. And that’s about it.
Its plot is routine and unremarkable, the conflict is obvious (and revolves around a substance with the patently silly name “unobtanium”), and the climactic final battle includes a moment in which a giant mech suit pulls an equally giant knife. We’re going out of our way to point out its narrative failings and dumb moments because it’s important to note that the Golden Globes has exactly zero technical categories. Despite that, Avatar won two awards: Best Director and Best Drama. In the latter category, Avatar beat out that year’s Oscar winner for Best Picture, The Hurt Locker, so things were confusing all over.
Avatar isn’t a terrible movie, but it was definitely not the best movie. Of course, that was also the ceremony that had The Hangover winning Best Comedy, so maybe the Hollywood Foreign Press was just off that year.
4. The Martian – Best Musical Or Comedy, Best Actor
We love The Martian, and it deserves all of the credit and recognition it’s received. All, we think, except for one: the Golden Globe for Best Comedy or Musical.
It is a funny movie, sure. It contains many jokes, and Matt Damon is at his most charming and relatable. It even has an unintended gag that has Sean Bean, who played Boromir in Peter Jackson’s first Middle-earth trilogy, explaining a Lord of the Rings reference. But none of this makes The Martian a comedy any more than the presence of music makes it a musical. It’s more about the main character’s desperate struggle to survive alone on Mars than it is about making the audience laugh.
So as much as we genuinely enjoy and appreciate The Martian, we call shenanigans here. It’s possible that its producers exerted some influence to avoid their film having to go up against awards juggernaut The Revenant in the Drama category, but we’re just speculating there. Some similar accusations arose in 2011, when spy thriller The Tourist received a Musical/Comedy nomination. But it didn’t work then, so now we never have to talk about The Tourist again.
3. Borat – Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical Or Comedy
We couldn’t quite make it through Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan because it eventually exceeded even the tolerance for super-awkward humor that we’d developed over years of watching Seinfeld and both the U.K. and American versions of The Office. But apparently, the Hollywood Foreign Press has stronger wills than ours because not only can we assume that its members finished Borat, but the group enjoyed it so much that it gave Sacha Baron Cohen the award for Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical.
We understand the win; Borat is an audacious and ambitious film, and it was a nice change to have a mockumentary come out that didn’t have Christopher Guest’s name on it. Audiences and critics alike love it, and our pick in this case comes more from a willful mental scrubbing than any absence of merit. We’re happy to just let it exist.
2. Entourage – Best Supporting Actor
At the 2005 Primetime Emmys, legendary group Earth, Wind, and Fire sang a TV-themed rendition of their hit song “September,” and they devoted a whole verse to it: “Entourage is so overrated/Jeremy Piven should be sedated/HBO’s got a lot of crappy shows.” That’s the only thing we remember about the 2005 Emmys because we couldn’t understand why the group would agree to ruin a perfectly good song, even if at Entourage‘s expense. Oh, we also remember that Everybody Loves Raymond‘s Brad Garrett beat Jeremy Piven in the Supporting Actor category, which is good news because that really would have been some egg on Earth, Wind, and Fire’s face.
Still, Entourage garnered 14 Golden Globe nominations, which is an incredible number for a series that nobody will admit to enjoying. And Piven actually won in 2008, so take that, Brad Garrett, with your three Emmys. And your SAG Award.
1. 60 Minutes – Best Television Drama
While the Globes typically recognize fictional works, the Hollywood Foreign Press has previously awarded the Best Television Drama award to a news program. They’ve only done that once, however. And then it seems they refused to do so ever again.
CBS’ 60 Minutes has been on continuously since 1968. In that time, it has won scores of accolades, including almost 80 Emmys, 11 Peabodys, and the 1978 Golden Globe for Best Drama Series. Reportedly, creator Don Hewitt rejected that last nomination, presumably because it didn’t do his serious journalism project any favors to be recognized as superior to the Mary Tyler Moore Show spin-off Lou Grant. Or maybe he just really wanted Battlestar Galactica to win.
Whatever the reason for Hewitt’s refusal to recognize their value, the Globes have ignored 60 Minutes and its peers ever since. And we’re fine with that because it left the field open for all of those other shows we’ve been making fun of this entire time.
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