Much like everything else over the last year, the 78th annual Golden Globe Awards took on a mostly virtual format. The show was everything you’d expect from 2021: It was awkward, uncomfortable and filled with a lot of people who wanted it to be over from the beginning.
Nevertheless, the incomparable Tina Fey and Amy Poehler hosted the ceremony, with Fey tuning in from the Rainbow Room in New York City and Poehler reporting from the Beverly Hilton. Despite their distance, their opening monologue didn’t miss a beat. They bantered back and forth like they were standing on the same stage.
Celebrities, on the other hand, tuned in from home. Fey and Poehler’s respective audiences were instead filled with first responders and other essential workers, as a way to honor them for their work during the pandemic. Kind of.
“We are so grateful for the work that you do, and that you’re here, so the celebrities can stay safely at home,” Fey joked. Most of the monologue was composed of jokes like this one — jokes that aren’t really jokes at all, jokes that make viewers think a little more deeply about these shows and the industry.
And that was just the beginning. Fey and Poehler also criticized the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the group who nominates and awards Golden Globes, for having no Black members.
Poehler also recognized “great directors nominated tonight,” listing Chloé Zhao, Regina King, Emerald Fennell, “and two other people but we’re out of time!” she joked, intentionally omitting the two white male nominees, David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin. Later in the night, Zhao made history as the first woman of color to win the Golden Globe Award for Best Director.
The prior year’s ongoing conversations around diversity, inclusion and equity clearly inspired much of the night’s discourse, and rightfully so. As a viewer, I think the virtual format highlighted a lot of the inequities in the television and film industry. An example of this was the off-carpet award show outfits.
Without an in-person ceremony, stars were left to show off their red carpet looks from their living rooms. No formal event apparently means no formal dress code, as Jason Sudeikis hopped on the broadcast in a tie-dye sweatshirt with unkempt hair, while many Hollywood starlets such as Anya Taylor-Joy were shown in videos being touched up for the glorified Zoom call by an entire at-home glam squad.
Siri show me the different expectations for male and female presentation in Hollywood pic.twitter.com/WUae2NtJeM
— Rebecca Keegan (@ThatRebecca) March 1, 2021
Although some male stars took the opportunity to dress to the nines (Leslie Odom Jr.’s outfit was my personal favorite), Sudeikis, Jeff Daniels and others showed up for the ceremony looking more aptly dressed for the year we’ve spent locked inside. Vanity Fair even praised these men for “capturing the surreality” of the night.
I, on the other hand, think it is indicative of that impossible standard we hold female celebrities to. Should Jeff Daniels be “[breaking] the internet,” as Vanity Fair reported, for showing up dressed like he’s headed to a neighborhood barbecue? Probably not. The notion of not going with the tradition can be admirable, but let’s not pretend a woman doing the same would be so widely praised.
All of that aside, the at-home red carpet had some fantastic moments as well. Black designer Claude Kameni dressed Viola Davis in an incredible, colorful, one-shouldered mermaid gown — her brand’s first Golden Globes look.
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January Jones and Kiernan Shipka took the virtual ceremony as an opportunity to rewear their outfits from the 68th Golden Globes in 2011, when they were co-stars on Mad Men.
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While I’m glad this Golden Globes was geared more toward thinking critically about the institutions that praise some artists’ work over others, we can’t just stop there. As Poehler and Fey suggested in their opening monologue, the HFPA needs to make a change. With award show season continuing, I hope we keep seeing criticism of these organizations, which will hopefully bring about positive change in the coming years.