From Natalie Portman and Debra Messing throwing some serious shade to Oprah sparking rumors of a presidential bid, it was an awards show with teeth.
Meryl Streep, activist Ai-jen Poo, actor Natalie Portman, activist Rosa Clemente, actors Michelle Williams, America Ferrera, Jessica Chastain, Amy Poehler and activist Saru Jayaraman [Photo: Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for InStyle]
Way before the first acceptance speech was awkwardly rushed through, it was clear that this year’s Golden Globes would not be typical award show fare. During a pre-show red carpet interview with E!, Debra Messing called out the network itself for posturing as “woke” while paying female correspondents far less than their male counterparts, and Meryl Streep walked the red carpet with Ai-Jen Poo, the executive director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance.
This year’s Golden Globes ceremony began with host Seth Meyers trying to goad Oprah Winfrey into running for president and peaked with an Oprah speech that made Twitter earnestly debate her potential candidacy. In between, there were a series of speeches, ad-libs, and other moments that hinted at how Hollywood’s landscape might be shifting after the fall of Harvey Weinstein.
Sure, some of it sounded a little fluffy–Nicole Kidman saying “Wow, the power of women” after merely contemplating the cast of Big Little Lies–absolutely no men spoke out about the #MeToo Movement or Time’s Up initiative, beyond wearing the chicly mandatory pins, and there were noticeably few wins for people of color. But the tone of the show, veering between steady calm, jubilant celebration, and righteous anger, was dictated by and dedicated to women; male host be damned.
Here are the moments that stood out the most:
Oprah Speaks Up About Speaking Up
The emotional highpoint of the evening was Oprah Winfrey’s gut-punch of an acceptance speech for the Cecil B. DeMille award. Weaving together the story of her own rise, the #MeToo Movement, and the tragic story of Recy Taylor,
a woman silenced by powerful men, Oprah nimbly tied together the night’s themes and sent an important message directly to young women watching at home.
Natalie Portman’s Mighty Shade
Ron Howard: "We are honored … to be here to present the award for best director."
Presenting for the Best Director category, just after Oprah left the stage, Natalie Portman went rogue and created perhaps the most shocking moment of the night. “Here are the all-male nominees,” she said just before reading off a string of names, not one of whom lacked a Y chromosome. The message about how few women are recognized at award shows for directing would resonate any year, but in a year when Greta Gerwig was snubbed for Lady Bird, despite that film winning Best Picture, Musical or Comedy, it felt extra appropriate. Natalie Portman made good on Debra Messing’s promise from before the show began: Tonight we’re saying everything. Compounding the drama of the moment, the very next person on stage after Guillermo del Toro won for The Shape of Water was Greta Gerwig, introducing Lady Bird.
Lest Natalie Portman’s point was lost on anyone, late in the show Barbra Streisand confirmed that time is also up on ignoring women film directors. She stressed the need for change by stating the fact that no woman had won in this category since she herself took top directing honors for Yentl a full 34 years ago.
Seth Meyers Sets It Off
Not since The Vagina Monologues has a monologue been more about women. Meyers opened the night with jokes about how scared the men of Hollywood have been the last three months, how Oprah should be president, and how not-exactly-heartbroken everyone in the room will be when Harvey Weinstein dies. He also subcontracted several punchlines out to some famous friends of the female, gay, or POC variety, in a segment called Jokes Seth Can’t Tell. Talk about reading the room.
Elisabeth Moss Quotes Margaret Atwood
After winning an award for her performance in The Handmaid’s Tale, a performance that already earned her an Emmy, Elisabeth Moss quoted from the author of the show’s source material: Margaret Atwood. “We were the people who were not in the papers,” she recited. “We lived in the blank white spaces at the edge of print. It gave us more freedom. We lived in the gaps between the stories.” She then went on to praise the author for fighting against intolerance and injustice, connecting her fight to the fight women face today–a fight Moss seems confident is being won now.
Jessica Chastain “Jokes” About Pay Inequality
Chastain has been one of the more outspoken members of Hollywood’s elite to advocate for wage equality, so it wasn’t surprising that she did so with her time on stage, presenting the Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy Award. That did not make it any less a delight, though. “I’m so happy to announce that the winner of this category will also receive the 23% of her salary that went missing in the wage gap,” she said. “It’s not a problem as we saved so much money kicking people out of Hollywood this year.”
Laura Dern Leads the Way
On a more serious note, Laura Dern–who was everywhere in 2017–used her acceptance speech for Big Little Lies to pinpoint one of the generational problems that allowed the culture of sexual predation to thrive. “Many of us were taught not to tattle,” she said. “It was a culture of silencing and that was normalized. I urge all of us to not only support survivors and bystanders who are brave enough to tell their truth, but to promote restorative justice. May we also, please, protect and employ them. May we teach our children that speaking out without the fear of retribution is our culture’s new North Star.” In a night filled with outstanding speeches on this topic, Dern’s still stood out.
Salma Hayek Call-and-Response
When introducing Three Billboards Outside of Ebbings, Missouri, presenter Salma Hayek connected the plot to the Time’s Up initiative, in a playful moment of call-and-response. The gesture was made more powerful, though, by the fact that Hayek recently wrote a searing essay about her personal experience with Harvey Weinstein.
Frances McDormand Takes a Shot
Nobody in Hollywood has less time for bullshit than Frances McDormand. At any moment during the telecast, you could catch her either visibly bored in her seat or shoving away a cameraman pushing in to get her reaction during costar Sam Rockwell’s acceptance speech. Watching her throughout the show was also a warmup for when she actually took the stage, though, winning an award for her role in Three Billboards. Beyond promising to do tequila shots with all the other nominees in her category, she also took a shot at the American electorate–by applauding the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for “not being afraid to elect a female president.” (Meher Tatna is president of the HFPA.) It was an appropriate capper to a night when the elephant-in-the-room president stayed largely outside the room, for once, leaving everyone to talk about women instead.