Golden Globes: Surprises, Snubs, and Takeaways

Florence Pugh, Cillian Murphy, Emily Blunt, Christopher Nolan, Emma Thomas, Robert Downey Jr., Charles Roven, Matt Damon, and Ludwig Göransson accept the award for Best Motion Picture – Drama for Oppenheimer at the 81st Golden Globe Awards. Photo by Christopher Polk/Golden Globes 2024/Golden Globes 2024 via Getty Images

Last night’s Golden Globes kicked off awards season, as well as a new vibe for the oft-embattled awards body. While things didn’t quite go off without a hitch, the Globes brought unexpected winners, big milestones (with Lily Gladstone becoming the first Native American to win a Best Actress award) and plenty to sift through for awards season and pop culture junkies. Below are the biggest takeaways from the show, from potential Oscar frontrunners to an especially thankless hosting gig.

Cillian Murphy and Robert Downey Jr. pose in the press room during the 81st Annual Golden Globe Awards at The Beverly Hilton on January 07, 2024 in Beverly Hills, California. Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

Oppenheimer is the new Best Picture favorite

Oppenheimer had the largest haul of any movie last night, taking home five awards—including Best Picture, Drama. While other frontrunners emerged (The Holdovers, Poor Things, and a key surprise win for Anatomy of a Fall), Oppenheimer claimed the show from beginning to end. 

Robert Downey Jr. livened up the proceedings with his speech after he won Best Supporting Actor, thanking the Globes for acknowledging him as the “most improved” of his fellow nominees. When Christopher Nolan won for Best Director, he began his speech by mentioning that the last time he was on stage for the Globes it was to accept an award on behalf of the late Heath Ledger for his work in The Dark Knight. As a director with a reputation for emotionally detached movies, it was a heartfelt, human moment. Cillian Murphy’s speech following his win for Best Actor, Drama showed a new side to the notoriously private actor too. Though he largely avoided pre-show red carpet interviews, an unbuttoned Murphy first asked if he had lipstick all over his nose (he did) before cheering his two decades of collaboration with Nolan. There’s clearly more for him to celebrate, as Oppenheimer becomes a major awards frontrunner with these wins.

Matthew Macfadyen, Sarah Snook, and Kieran Culkin at the 81st Golden Globe Awards. Photo by John Salangsang/Golden Globes 2024/Golden Globes 2024 via Getty Images

A near Succession sweep

The beloved satirical series raked in almost every award for a drama series last night, winning four out of five of the categories it was nominated for, including the Golden Globe for Best Drama Series. Kieran Culkin, Sarah Snook, and Matthew Macfadyen also took home awards for their outstanding work in the HBO show’s final season. The only category Succession missed out on was Best Supporting Actress, with Elizabeth Debicki’s performance in The Crown winning out over J. Smith-Cameron. With the Emmys coming up next week, could this be a preview of the winners we’ll be seeing?

Lee Sung Jin, Ali Wong, and Steven Yeun at the viewing party for the 81st Golden Globe Awards. Photo by Tommaso Boddi/Golden Globes 2024/Golden Globes 2024 via Getty Images

The Bear and Beef win big

Beyond Succession, the other television winners had some big hauls too. Beef swept the limited series categories, with Ali Wong, Steven Yeun, and the show itself winning. The Bear collected in the comedy categories as well, keeping series like Barry, Ted Lasso, and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel from winning in their respective final seasons. Jeremy Allen White and Ayo Edebiri each won Globes for their work on the Chicago-set series, cementing their ascents to stardom. Again, there could very well be a repeat of these proceedings at next week’s long-delayed Emmys.

Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig at the 81st Golden Globe Awards. Photo by Christopher Polk/Golden Globes 2024/Golden Globes 2024 via Getty Images

Perfectly paired presenters

The Globes are known for being the “fun” awards show, and the presenters were more than game. From Keri Russell and Ray Romano’s delightful bit about the uselessness of honesty in Hollywood to Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig’s inadvertent dance break, the presenters leaned into the show’s inherent silliness. Special shoutout to Andra Day and Jon Batiste’s impromptu Super Mario Bros. a capella performance and the peak cringe comedy that was America Ferrera earnestly presenting alongside Kevin Costner, who may or may not have actually seen Barbie.

Host Jo Koy onstage at the 81st Golden Globe Awards. Photo by Rich Polk/Golden Globes 2024/Golden Globes 2024 via Getty Images

Jo Koy’s middling monologue

It’s a good thing that so many presenters brought some fun, because comedian and host Jo Koy did not. His monologue was generic, taking broad swings at the run time of Oppenheimer and making some jabs about genitalia in Saltburn and the lack thereof in Barbie. But when jokes clearly weren’t landing in the room, Koy all but abandoned ship. It’s one thing to bomb and own the awkwardness, it’s another thing entirely to act like it’s not your fault. Defensive deflections like “I got the gig 10 days ago, you want a perfect monologue?” and insisting that all of the jokes that didn’t land were written by someone else isn’t a good look. When he mumbled out a joke about nominee Taylor Swift being on camera at NFL games only to strangely apologize directly after, it was the nail in the coffin of an already dead-on-arrival hosting job. Koy essentially disappeared later in the evening, so at least his performance was short.

America Ferrera, Greta Gerwig, and Margot Robbie at the 81st Golden Globe Awards. Photo by Michael Buckner/Golden Globes 2024/Golden Globes 2024 via Getty Images

Barbie misses out on major wins

While Greta Gerwig’s fantastically plastic movie didn’t go home empty-handed, its haul was lighter than  expected. Billie Eilish and Finneas won Best Original Song for the pitch perfect “What Was I Made For?” and Barbie is the inaugural winner of the Cinematic and Box Office Achievement Award, but the film didn’t win anywhere else. It’s clearly an awards season with some exceptionally qualified comedies, as the likes of The Holdovers, May December, Poor Things, and American Fiction are all stiff competition, but given Barbie’s cultural dominance, a few more wins seemed likely.

That said, Barbie’s win for Cinematic and Box Office Achievement did yield one of the night’s better speeches. While the award itself remains a bit suspect (did Barbie just win because it made the most money?), powerhouse producer Margot Robbie accepted the trophy and gave some great perspective to the proceedings. She thanked “everyone who dressed up and went to the greatest place on earth: the movie theaters,” adding that the award “celebrates movie fans” above all else. “We made [Barbie] with love, and thank you for loving it back,” she told audience members, both in the room and watching on TV. Even if it didn’t score the biggest awards, it can’t be denied that Barbie made perhaps the biggest impact of any movie last year, and Robbie and co. were glad to celebrate that.

81st Golden Globes: The Biggest Winners, Surprise Snubs, and Takeaways

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