The 2018 Golden Globes merged an awards show with activism

Talk show host Oprah Winfrey gave a poignant speech that drew from history and her own childhood when accepting the Cecil B. DeMille award. Photo from YouTube.

Prior to the 75th Golden Globes on Sunday, the awards show was already making headlines and sparking controversy and speculation. Many wondered whether actors and actresses  would address #MeToo, a national movement aimed at exposing fostering dialogue about sexual misconduct, misogyny and a number of other societal issues. The evening ultimately witnessed celebrities balancing social activism with celebration of each other’s work.

The night began with the red carpet, which saw celebrities using their platforms to raise awareness about sexual harassment and gender inequality by wearing black and discussing #MeToo when interviewed by reporters.

By wearing black, actors aimed to stand in solidarity with victims of sexual misconduct. Beyond standing in solidarity, a number of celebrities in attendance, including actresses Eva Longoria and Reese Witherspoon, led the charge to combat systemic sexism in Hollywood and across all industries by launching Time’s Up, a legal defense fund to help low-income women seeking justice for sexual harassment and assault in the workplace.  Other actresses like Michelle Williams and Emma Watson invited activists as their guests on the red carpet to further raise awareness about those who are fighting for equality.

Late night comedian and Golden Globes host Seth Meyers promised to address the issue of systemic sexual harassment prior to the awards show, while also celebrating achievements in Hollywood throughout the past year. Meyers’ ability to frame politics into intelligent and insightful jokes energized the night. “Good evening, women and remaining gentlemen,” Meyers said in his opening monologue. “It’s 2018. Marijuana is finally allowed and sexual harassment finally isn’t.”

As the night progressed, the ceremony saw crucial victories for diversity and social progress. Actor Sterling K. Brown made history by becoming the first black actor to win the award for Best Actor – Television Series Drama for his work in This is Us. Aziz Ansari also became the first Asian male actor to win the Golden Globe for Best Actor – Television Series Musical or Comedy for his performance in the Netflix series Master of None. Elisabeth Moss took home the award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series-Drama for her performance in The Handmaid’s Tale, a Hulu original series about a dystopian society with legal restrictions on women’s rights.

Other surprising wins included James Franco as Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical category, beating Daniel Kaluuya, whose performance in the horror-comedy Get Out was one of the most talked about of the year. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, a controversial movie due to its critical portrayal of law enforcement, took home the coveted award for Best Picture – Drama. Despite high expectations for Steven Spielberg’s The Post, the film flopped at the Golden Globes, drawing comments about the irony of a Press Association ignoring a film about the press in a climate that has presented new challenges to the journalism profession.

Some snubs of the night included Jordan Peele’s Get Out, which offered widely discussed commentary about modern race relations, and James Ivory‘s stunning adaption of Call Me by Your Name in the category for Best Screenplay – Motion Picture. Additionally, although Lady Bird brought home the award for Best Picture – Comedy or Musical, many expected director Greta Gerwig to be nominated for Best Director for her debut film.  

Nonetheless, the evening saw plenty of widely predicted outcomes, too. Nicole Kidman won the award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television for her work in “Big Little Lies,” while her co-star, Alexander Skarsgård, won the award Best Performance by an Actor in the same category. Another predictable winner of the evening was Pixar’s Coco, which won the award for Best Animated Feature, but a shadow loomed over the film’s victory due to the multiple sexual assault allegations against Pixar co-founder John Lasseter.

The highlight of the evening was a surprisingly emotional speech given by Oprah Winfrey, who became the first black woman to receive the Cecil B. de Mille award. Winfrey dedicated her speech to discussing the oppression and historic accomplishments of black women, thanking the press and giving a nod to the #MeToo movement.

The 75th Golden Globes was an evening of historic firsts for diversity and women in the industry. Throughout the night, actresses used their platforms as presenters to continue shining light on women’s issues in Hollywood and advocating for change. Notable absences of the night included the outspoken actress and activist Rose McGowan, who expressed her disdain for the Golden Globes all-black fashion statement and what she called the “Hollywood fakery” of the night. Asia Argento, who was featured heavily in the New Yorker story that exposed years of sxual misconduct allegations against Hollywood executive Harvey Weinstein, wasn’t invited to the show and neither was Rosanna Arquette, another prominent Weinstein accuser.

But notably, while the entire awards show focused on the theme of female empowerment, no women were nominated for Best Director, a hypocrisy actress Natalie Portman did not shy away from calling out. “Here are the all-male nominees,” she said as she presented the category. Actress Barbra Streisand also joked about her status as the only woman to win the award of Best Director at the Golden Globes back in 1984, nearly 30 years ago.