If you want a single clip to encapsulate the Golden Globe Awards—an event you may or may not have known occurred—on Tuesday night, look no further than Regina Hall accepting the award for best television actor—drama series on the behalf of Kevin Costner.
While several of the nominees were in the audience, Costner, who won for Yellowstone, wasn’t. And so Hall started what we’d come to expect from no-shows. But Hall, upon seeing what the teleprompter wanted her to say, couldn’t keep it together.
“Kevin Costner, he so wanted to—” she starts to say before she starts laughing. “I always like how they write this. It’s like, ‘He so much wanted to be’—no, I’m sure he did. He so much—I mean, and if he won, I know he really would. But you won!”
Hall explains that Costner was sheltering in place because of relentless storms that recently hit southern California (including where Costner was in Santa Barbara). Despite the seriousness of the storms, the crowd couldn’t stop laughing, with Hall’s efforts showcasing the ludicrousy of it all. Costner wasn’t the first person not there to accept their award—Zendaya, Cate Blanchett, and Amanda Seyfried also weren’t there—but instead of having the presenters accept the awards, they also offered explanations for why they weren’t at the Golden Globes on a Tuesday. Blanchett and Zendays had filming obligations, but we were told that Seyfried was “deep in the process of creating a new musical and could not be here.” This largely resulted in people wanting to know just what musical Seyfried was working on or if that meant a third Mamma Mia! movie was in the works.
Those explanations may have been true, and Costner and Zendaya were among those who later posted acceptance speeches online. But the specific reasons cited also seemed, whether intended or not, like the Golden Globes trying to demonstrate that these particular winners had valid reasons not to attend and were not, in fact, boycotting the ceremony and the organization behind it (the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, or the HFPA) for a variety of reasons.
In the end, far more people showed up than didn’t. But the HFPA’s scandals—both those explicitly mentioned and the ones that weren’t—hung over the ceremony, showcasing both why people tune in and why the show is no longer necessary.
In 2021, just before that year’s Golden Globes ceremony, a Los Angeles Times investigation into the HFPA revealed years of corruption (already openly joked about in host monologues from people like Ricky Gervais), shady dealings, members being bestowed lavish gifts by studios and networks in return for nominations, and the fact that the small organization had no Black members. In the weeks following that initial report, people like Shonda Rhimes and Ava DuVernay spoke out about the organization’s tendency to ignore or reject promotional events for Black-led projects, while Scarlett Johansson called the HFPA out for the sexist questions she’s received from members that “bordered on sexual harassment.”
As a result, NBC (which had the broadcast rights to the Golden Globes) didn’t air a ceremony in 2022. Efforts to diversify and expand the HFPA was met with skepticism, although it was enough for NBC to bring the ceremony back for one more year, and on a Tuesday instead. Some, including Brendan Fraser—who says that a former HFPA president (who was eventually ousted for a racist email) sexually assaulted him in 2003—vowed to boycott the Golden Globes.
Host Jerrod Carmichael addressed some of the HFPA’s controversies, most notably the organization’s lack of Black members, in his opening monologue. He said he was picked because he was Black, revealed how much he was being paid to host ($500,000), and that he wasn’t interested in being lectured about how the HFPA tried to diversify; in fact, he assumed the HFPA didn’t do anything to change its membership. He was more interested in celebrating the people in the room.
Not every joke Carmichael made worked. Many of the touchstones of the Golden Globes—overly long and sentimental speeches, drunken rambling—were still there: Several people mentioned that they were drunk on stage, while The White Lotus creator Mike White, who complained about all of the food being gone by the time he arrived when he accepted his award, called out everyone who said no to him. And there were some truly touching moments, such as Ke Huy Quan and Michelle Yeoh winning awards for Everything Everywhere All At Once or Colin Farrell’s utterly charming acceptance speech for The Banshees of Inisherin. And Ryan Murphy’s speech highlighting many of the queer and trans actors he’s worked with throughout his career showed the power speeches could have.
And it also gave us the most biting joke of the night: Carmichael, taking the staged, made a joke about Tom Cruise—who famously said he’d return his three Golden Globes to the HFPA after the 2021 reports emerged and who wasn’t in attendance Tuesday night—and offered to exchange those returned awards for “the safe return of Shelly Miscavige” (the wife of Scientology leader David Miscavige who hasn’t been seen in public since 2007). Carmichael then introduced two stars of Top Gun: Maverick to the stage. (But the show was all too willing to ignore other controversies.)
Are the Golden Globes still necessary? Awards pundits are the first to highlight that the HFPA doesn’t have any membership crossover with other voting bodies like the Oscars and doesn’t always predict future Oscar winners, but a great acceptance speech can help a campaign. But it’s far from the last time we’ll get to see people make affecting speeches between now and March. The free booze that’s so often touted as a highlight? Another televised ceremony could hypothetically take up that mantle, giving the people in attendance and the viewers that experience without all of the baggage the HFPA brings.
As far as ratings? They were down with an average of 5.36 million viewers; CBS’s FBI lineup had more viewers. And in a few years, it’s possible we’re no longer watching these ceremonies on broadcast networks: Earlier Wednesday, Netflix announced that it would stream the 2023 SAG Awards on YouTube and, starting in 2024, it would broadcast it live on its platform.
Sure, the 2023 Golden Globes might have been a better ceremony than we could’ve hoped for. But between its Tuesday debut to how little the people involved seemed to respect it, its limitations were on full display.