Hawaiian Shirts, Technical Difficulties, And Apologies: Winners And Losers From The 2021 Golden Globes

The Golden Globes are my favorite award show, typically. It’s not because the ceremony is, like, good, or an accurate representation of artistic excellence in any way. I like the Golden Globes because the whole thing is a mess. Awards are given out almost willy-nilly, people are often quite drunk, and there’s a cloud of corruption and grift hanging over the whole affair. All award shows are silly, but the Globes is the one that makes no attempt to hide it, which I appreciate on some level. My general stance on award shows is as follows: “there’s no good reason to do any of this, but if we’re committed to doing it, we might as well try to do it right.” There’s a flip side to that coin though, and it goes like this: “if we’re not going to do it right, let’s at least try to be hilarious about it.” That’s why I usually enjoy the Globes. Because I love chaos and anarchy.

It’s also why I was secretly kind of excited about this year’s ceremony. I figured this would all be like the Chaos Emmys from 2020 but more and bigger and messier and I could delight in the glow of the raging flames. I am sad to report this did not happen. I did not enjoy any of it. Well, almost any of it. We’ll get into it shortly. Now, actually. No need to drag this out any further.

Presenting the Winners and Losers from the 2021 Golden Globes.

WINNER — England, generally

Really just a fantastic night for England. The show started out with two consecutive wins by British actors — Daniel Kaluuya and John Boyega — and continued apace throughout the night. The Crown and its stars won a slew of awards, Anya Taylor-Joy won, Sacha Baron Cohen won for Borat, Rosamund Pike won, etc. Just a tremendous showing throughout the evening for the Queen’s subjects. Heck, even when Jason Sudeikis won for Ted Lasso, he was Zooming into the ceremony live from across the pond — in a hoodie, at like 2:15 AM local time — because he was over there working on season two.

Say what you will about the bi-coastal ceremony, with Tina Fey helming the New York half and Amy Poehler filming the Los Angeles half, but they could have saved themselves a lot of trouble by just doing everything live from London. They could have let Paddington host and hand out CGI trophies to the winners. Animated bears cannot catch or spread viruses to the best of my knowledge. This idea keeps getting better the more I type about it. Lord in heaven knows I do not want to do another Pandemic Awards Show next year, but if we absolutely have to, this is an option.

LOSER — The human spirit

Maybe this was just me and the filter through which I was viewing it all, but I got a very distinct whiff of “I don’t really want to be doing this again” from many of the people involved. Not that they didn’t try. Bless their souls, they did try. Everyone is doing the best they can. But there was a weariness about it all, a feeling that, like, we’re still doing this, that I couldn’t escape. It didn’t help that the show was littered with technical difficulties — Laura Dern had to put her damn glasses on and apologize for a glitch during the first presentation — even though there should, in theory, be an agreed-upon way to handle things by now.

What I’m saying is that it was a messy and chaotic affair, but not in the good and fun way I was hoping for. I wanted to see more “Jennifer Aniston putting out a stubborn trash can blaze with a fire extinguisher” and less “uh, somebody forgot to put the lights on Tiffany Haddish.” We’re all exhausted. I think that’s the takeaway from all of it.

WINNER — Nomadland

During a night filled with weak apologies and half-hearted promises to do better in the area of inclusion (the nice thing here is that it’s tough to do worse!), it was kind of cool to see the Best Director Award go to Chloé Zhao for Nomadland.

To be clear, I do not say that to imply she was in any way undeserving or that they gave her the award to atone for other sins. Nomadland has white-hot buzz because everyone who has seen it has been kind of blown away by it, and it’s one of the favorites for the upcoming Oscars for a whole bunch of very good reasons. All I mean by any of this is that it was cool to see the award go to someone who does not look exactly like Aaron Sorkin, including Aaron Sorkin, on a night when the whole point was that the entire Hollywood Foreign Press Association needs to work harder to not look like a collection of Aaron Sorkins. And she gave a pretty dope speech about compassion. I dig all of it.

LOSER — Whichever intergalactic hero Ryan Murphy has imprisoned in the space prison he apparently Zoomed in from

The most interesting part of the night for me, more so than any of the winners or speeches or jokes, was looking at people’s webcam backgrounds. Some people went minimalist, which I appreciated and will discuss in a moment, and some people went way, way all-out. Regina King and Anya Taylor-Joy got red carpet ready in their living rooms. Daniel Levy grabbed every yellow piece of clothing he owns. The woman who won Best Song accepted from in front of a grand piano, which I appreciated for how straightforward it was.

My favorite of the people who went big was Ryan Murphy, though. He looks like he called in from the control deck of a space prison. He looks like a guy who took Baby Yoda hostage and is about to get a visit from The Mandalorian. He looks like a guy who has a laser pointed at Mount Rushmore and wants $1 billion to turn it off. He looks like a guy in a Mission: Impossible movie who calls Ethan Hunt “Mr. Hunt” and is about to get fooled with the old realistic mask ruse. He looks kind of like what you pictured when you heard that Ryan Murphy would be calling in via Zoom from his home.

I don’t know. I respect it. Good for him.

WINNER — People giving the appropriate amount of effort


But also, good for the people who went the other way. There is no way you could get me to put on a tuxedo and sit in front of my laptop in my home, so I have great admiration for the people who said “Ehhhh I’ll just leave on what I wore to the grocery store earlier.” Sudeikis, pictured above, appeared in a hoodie and a layer of stubble to accept his award, although, again, it was well after midnight London-time for him, so there would be some leeway given anyway. Not so much for some of the other nominees.


Jeff Daniels looked like he was in his guest bedroom when he was on, just radiating with “dad Zooming with his college sophomore daughter while he has popcorn cooking in the microwave downstairs” energy. I would bet an entire closet full of Izod golf shirts that he closed his laptop the instant his category was over and called it a night. I assume most people at in-person award shows want to go home after their categories anyway so, I guess, this all worked out pretty well for them. And speaking of people who absolutely did not finish watching the ceremony…


… here’s Bill Murray, outside, in a Hawaiian shirt, with a martini in hand, looking almost exactly like you picture Bill Murray looking most days. He might not have even known he was dialing into the Globes. There’s a non-zero chance he and Jeff Daniels thought they were just going to chat with each other about notable events on the PGA Tour.

To be clear, I respect this, too.

LOSER — Bits

I love Kenan Thompson and Maya Rudolph. I love Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo. I love Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. But none of the bits and jokes worked very well, something I attribute to a combination of a) a much smaller audience not providing the raucous in-house laughter and making it sound like everything was bombing in the room, and b) the aforementioned COVID fatigue, where even the more decent bits — the one with celebrities talking to doctors was okay! — just made me long for the day when we can do all of this without addressing the giant mask-wearing elephant in the room.

Again, everyone is doing the best they can. I credit them with the effort and the attempt to sell a tricky bit in a difficult situation. I’m just very tired.

WINNER — Speeches given from couches in people’s homes

All of that said, this is one thing I still find charming. People are so much more relaxed when they’re in their living rooms, and there’s a little less of the pretentiousness that can make these shows feel like self-important charades. Andra Day started crying right away and ripped her printed speech out of someone’s hand so she could read it through her tears. Chadwick Boseman’s wife, Taylor Simone Ledward, accepted his posthumous trophy and gave an emotional speech that was probably the highlight of the night. Al Pacino looked like he rushed home in a convertible with the top down and didn’t have time to look in a mirror before his category came up.

I know Pacino didn’t win. It doesn’t make sense to include him in the section about acceptance speeches. I just really wanted to mention his hair and I’m almost at the end of this recap. Had to squeeze it in somewhere. I stand by it.

LOSER — Better Call Saul

Between Rhea Seehorn getting snubbed yet again — I’M FINE, AWARDS DON’T MATTER, NO YOU’RE UPSET — and Bob Odenkirk losing in the Best Actor category, the closest Better Call Saul came to winning anything this year was when Tracy Morgan accidentally pronounced Soul as “Sal” when he was giving out the Best Animated Movie award. This will not do. Except for the thing about Tracy Morgan getting a live microphone. That should happen more often. Let him be a sideline reporter for the next Super Bowl.

WINNER — Dogs and children

The other nice thing about people appearing via technology from their homes was the notable increase in children and dogs running into the frame. The best example of this was during the preshow when Regina King’s dog — whose name is Cornbread and is a very good boy — mosied into the shot behind her and plopped down in his bed. This should be the one tradition we keep from this disaster. From now on, nominees can bring their dogs to the ceremony. Would it make the whole thing better and more enjoyable? I don’t know. Probably. But it sure as hell couldn’t make it worse.

Let’s not do any of this next year, please. Except for the dogs.