Golden Globe Awards: Big Night for ‘La La Land,’ ‘The Crown,’ ‘Atlanta’ – Variety

La La Land,” an ode to Los Angeles,  is dominating Sunday’s Golden Globes, winning a record-tying six statues including best director and best screenplay for Damien Chazelle, as well as musical or comedy acting honors for Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone.

The story of two young lovers scored a leading seven Golden Globe nominations and is an unexpected commercial and critical success. Studios don’t make many musicals these days, and “La La Land” arrives without the benefit of being based on a well-known Broadway show. It’s an original work of art. With that in mind, Chazelle gave a shout out to Lionsgate, the film’s distributor, for “taking the chance, taking the gamble.”

“La La Land’s” other initial victories were for its score and for the song “City of Stars,” the film’s moody anthem.

When it came to television, Globe voters awarded newcomers FX’s “Atlanta” and Netflix’s “The Crown” as the best comedy and best drama, respectively. Both shows are in their inaugural season.

The Globes haven’t been the focal point for Hollywood’s diversity crisis. That’s fallen to the Academy Awards, which have been slammed on social media for failing to honor actors of color for the past two years. But the 2017 edition of the Globes has been notable for honoring shows that deal with race in America. “Atlanta” focuses on cousins navigating the rap scene, and also earned a best actor in a comedy statue for creator and star Donald Glover.

“I really want to thank Atlanta and all the, like, black folks in Atlanta,” Glover said during the first of two victory speeches. “Just for being alive.”

“Atlanta’s” victory wasn’t the only time race took center stage. “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story,” a look at how the football star’s murder trial divided the city of Los Angeles around racial lines, nabbed best TV movie or miniseries.

“American justice is anything but blind when race, gender and celebrity are involved,” said producer Nina Jacobson in her victory speech, going on to note that those issues remain relevant twenty years after the Simpson trial.

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Best actress in a TV comedy winner Tracee Ellis Ross (“Black-ish”) used her time at the microphone to address Hollywood’s poor track record with creating shows and films for people of color.

“This is for all of the women, women of color, and colorful people, whose stories, ideas, thoughts are not always considered worthy and valid and important,” said Ellis Ross. “I want you to know I see you, we see you.”

Even “Zootopia,” the best animated feature winner, waded into the issue of bigotry and intolerance. The film focuses on an animal city where certain species are discriminated against. Co-director Byron P. Howard said “Zootopia’s” message is “about embracing diversity even when there are people in the world who want to divide us by using fear.”

As expected, Viola Davis picked up a best supporting actress award for her work as the wife of an egotistical garbage man in “Fences.” She beat out the likes of Michelle Williams (“Manchester by the Sea”) and Naomie Harris (“Moonlight”), and dedicated her award to her father, a worker on a race track with a fifth-grade education. “Fences” is adapted from August Wilson’s prize-winning play of the same name. Davis thanked Paramount and producer Scott Rudin for bringing such a challenging project to life in a business dominated by superhero films.

“It doesn’t scream money maker, but it does scream art,” she said.

If Davis’ victory seemed preordained, Sunday was also a night of upsets and surprises. Aaron Taylor-Johnson won the first Golden Globe Award on Sunday, picking up a best supporting actor statue for his work as a criminal psychopath in “Nocturnal Animals.” Taylor-Johnson beat out the heavily favored Mahershala Ali, who has earned plaudits for his work as a sympathetic drug dealer in “Moonlight.” The English actor wasn’t even expected to pick up a nomination. “Nocturnal Animals” stepped into some controversy before nominations were even announced. Globe voters were told to give back Tom Ford perfume that was sent out to hawk the film because it went over the dollar limit for gifts they are allowed to receive.

Taylor-Johnson’s win wasn’t the only early upset. Billy Bob Thornton also picked up a best TV actor in a drama statue for his performance as an unconventional lawyer in the Amazon series “Goliath.” In his speech, Thornton quipped that he had a longstanding rivalry with Bob Odenkirk, a fellow nominee for “Better Call Saul,” that dated back to their work with Van Johnson in the 1940s.

In addition to nabbing the best TV drama award, “The Crown” won a a best actress in a TV drama statue for Claire Foy’s performance as Queen Elizabeth II. Foy added to the evening’s political flavor.

“I think the world could do with a few more women at the center of it,” she said.

The Golden Globes are an essential stop during Hollywood’s months-long awards season odyssey. On the film front, “La La Land”  is hoping to emerge as the Oscar front-runner.  Other top contenders include “Moonlight,” a coming-of-age drama about an African-American boy struggling with his sexuality, and “Manchester by the Sea,” a tragedy that unfolds in a blue collar community.

“American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson” had the most nominations among television contenders, with five nods. There are also a number of newcomers in contention. “The Crown,” “Stranger Things,” “This Is Us,” and “Westworld” are all in their first seasons and are all up for best TV drama.

Though the Globes have become a ratings juggernaut in their own right, they are not seen as a predictor of future Oscar glory. Unlike the Screen Actors, Directors, or Producers guild awards, the voting bodies have no overlap. The Globes are voted on by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a group of roughly 100 journalists with overseas connections. In contrast, the Oscars are voted on by thousands of actors, directors, cinematographers, editors, and other craftspeople. In the past, Globe winners have not always gone on to win best picture. Last year’s best drama winner, “The Revenant,” for instance, lost out on the top Academy Award to “Spotlight.”

Host Jimmy Fallon got the show going with a nod to “La La Land’s” opening number. It had the comedian stuck in bumper-to-bumper limousine traffic, and enabled nominees and stars such as Nicole Kidman, Amy Adams, Ryan Reynolds, and Kit Harrington to sing and dance alongside Storm Troopers and the kids from “Stranger Things.”

“Welcome to the Golden Globes,” he said, before noting, “Already the teleprompter’s down.”

The technical glitch was an apt way to kick off the evening. After all, the Globes are louder, looser, and boozier than the Oscars. Champagne flows freely during the ceremony, which can lead to celebrity fails and must-see television. The awards show rewards work on both the big and small screen, and segregates drama films from musicals and comedies.  It also does not recognize below-the-line work, such as editing or cinematography.

This year’s show unfolds in the aftermath of a divisive presidential race that saw Republican Donald Trump beat out Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee that Hollywood overwhelmingly favored, for the White House. Fallon’s opening monologue was peppered with several election zingers. He compared Trump to King Joffrey, the mad monarch from “Game of Thrones,” and said that the Globes was one of the last places in America where the popular vote still mattered, a reference to how Clinton’s popular vote win was meaningless in comparison to Trump’s electoral college victory.

The Trump gibes weren’t limited to Fallon. Meryl Streep, the winner of the Cecil B. DeMille award for career achievement, slammed Trump for having an “instinct to humiliate,” citing the president-elect’s mocking of a disabled reporter.

“Disrespect invites disrespect,” she said. “Violence incites violence. When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.”

Best supporting actor in a limited series or TV movie victor Hugh Laurie (“The Night Manager”), echoed Streep’s comments, joking that it would be the last Golden Globes broadcast because Hollywood, foreign and press were verboten in Trump’s America.  “To some Republicans even the word association is sketchy,” he joked. With a nod to his arms dealer character in “The Night Manager” he went on to say “I accept this award on behalf of psychopathic billionaires everywhere.”

It was a good night for “The Night Manager,” a sleek adaptation of John Le Carre’s thriller. In addition to Lauire, Olivia Colman nabbed a best supporting actress in a TV movie or limited series award and Tom Hiddleston picked up a best actor statue.

Fallon, host of NBC’s “The Tonight Show,” is emceeing the evening in a bit of corporate synergy (the network airs the awards show broadcast). He follows in the footsteps of Amy Poehler and Tina Fey, as well as Ricky Gervais, all of whom made headlines with acid quips that came at the expense of the A-listers in the audience. Fallon is expected to draw less blood. He has made “The Tonight Show” a safe space for celebrities, allowing them to participate in sketches, such as “Slow Jam the News,” that enable them to be in on the joke instead of being the butt of it.

More to come…




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