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Golden Globe Awards: ‘La La Land’ Breaks Record in Politically-Charged Show

La La Land” dominated Sunday’s Golden Globes, winning a record-breaking seven statues including best musical or comedy. The ode to Los Angeles and vintage musicals also won best screenplay and director honors for Damien Chazelle, the 31-year old director who dared to make an un-ironic throwback to the films of Vincente Minnelli and Jacques Demy, as well as picking up acting statues for Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone in the musical or comedy category.

When it came to television, Globe voters spread the love among newcomers. “Atlanta,” an FX series about aspiring rappers, and The Crown,” a Netflix historical drama about the British monarchy,  captured the best comedy and best drama statues, respectively. Both shows are in their inaugural season.

La La Land,” a valentine to Tinseltown and the artists who go west proved to be a panacea for a time when Hollywood finds itself out of step with a rising political conservatism in the country. “La La Land” broke the previous high-water mark of six wins hit by “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and “Midnight Express.”

In the best drama film category, “Moonlight,” a low-budget coming-of-age story about a sexually confused boy in the Miami ghetto, beat out heavy hitters such as “Manchester by the Sea” and “Hacksaw Ridge.”

“Moonlight” director Barry Jenkins said backstage that being able to set the film in his hometown of Miami “meant the world to me.” He added: “It can be a cliche to say that a city is a character in a film. But it really was in this film.” He credited A24 with distributing the film in 20 territories and added: “They believed in our voice so much that they literally opened a new lane in their businesses ….It was a beautiful process.”

The evening was filled with politics — from the films and shows that were honored to the speeches themselves, many of which took issue with President-elect Donald Trump.

The Golden Globes are an essential stop during Hollywood’s months-long awards season odyssey. “La La Land” used the evening to solidify its position as an Oscar front-runner. But the Globes differ from the Oscars in several important ways. The awards show rewards work on both the big and small screen, and segregates drama films from musicals and comedies.

Related Content Golden Globes Winners: Updated List

Casey Affleck picked up a best actor in a drama award for his work as a grieving janitor in “Manchester by the Sea.” He has received nearly every film acting honor so far this year. Not so Isabelle Huppert, who nabbed a best actress in a drama award for “Elle,” the story of a woman who exacts revenge on an assailant. A visibly shocked Huppert picked up the award over the heavily favored Natalie Portman for “Jackie.”

The Globes haven’t been the focal point for Hollywood’s diversity crisis. That’s fallen to the Academy Awards, which have been slammed for failing to honor actors of color for the past two years. But the 2017 edition of the Globes was notable for honoring shows and films that deal with race in America. In addition to “Moonlight,” which is directed by, written by, and stars black artists, television awards went to “Atlanta” and “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story,” which won best limited series. “American Crime Story” looks at the football star’s murder trial and the way it divided the city of Los Angeles around racial lines. “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 20 years after the Simpson trial.

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,” she said. “I want you to know I see you, we see you.”

“Atlanta” creator and star Donald Glover, who also earned a best actor in a TV comedy award, had a similar message. “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.”

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 race track worker 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.

“Fences” isn’t the only film that faced steep commercial odds. 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” won in every category in which it was nominated. Its other victories were for its score and for the song “City of Stars,” the film’s moody anthem. Stone said that the film was for dreamers who remained resilient in the wake of obstacles. “Hope and creativity are two of the most important things in the world and that’s what this movie is about,” she said.

If Davis’ and Affleck’s  victories seemed preordained, Sunday was also a night overflowing with upsets. In addition to Huppert’s surprising win, Aaron Taylor-Johnson picked up a best supporting actor statue for his work as a criminal psychopath in “Nocturnal Animals.” He beat out Mahershala Ali, who had been expected to to be recognized for his work as a sympathetic drug dealer in “Moonlight.” Taylor-Johnson wasn’t even expected to pick up a nomination at the Globes and many Oscar oddsmakers expect him to be snubbed by Academy members. “Nocturnal Animals” stepped into some controversy before nominations were even announced. Globe voters were reportedly told to give back some of the Tom Ford perfume they received because it went over the allowed dollar limit for gifts.

Taylor-Johnson was in good company when it came to upsets. 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.” Were there a category for the most bizarre speech, Thornton would have likely won that too. Sporting sunglasses, he jokingly rambled that he had a longstanding feud 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.

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 less than 100 journalists with overseas media outlets. 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.”

Yet from the start, it seemed like “La La Land’s” night. Host Jimmy Fallon got the show going with a nod to the film’s opening number, which has dancers leaping over cars in the midst of a highway jam. The sketch followed Fallon as he hoofed and sang through bumper-to-bumper limousine traffic alongside stars such as Nicole Kidman, Amy Adams, Ryan Reynolds, Kit Harrington  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 (just ask the late Elizabeth Taylor who seemed to be in her cups while presenting a best drama statue) .

The aftershocks from Trump’s unexpected White House victory hung over the Beverly Hilton Hotel, where the show is broadcast. Hollywood had put its financial heft behind Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, with many stars hitting the campaign trail on her behalf. Fallon’s opening monologue was peppered with several election zingers that played well in a room filled with progressives. 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 jibes 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,” emceed the evening in a bit of corporate synergy (the network airs the awards show broadcast). He followed 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 drew less blood, injecting more music into the show and allowing the celebrities in the audience to be in on the joke instead of being the butt of it.

Best Motion Picture – Drama:
“Hacksaw Ridge”
“Hell or High Water”
“Lion”
“Manchester by the Sea”
“Moonlight” (WINNER)

Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy:
“20th Century Women”
“Deadpool”
“La La Land” (WINNER)
“Florence Foster Jenkins”
“Sing Street”

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama:
Casey Affleck – “Manchester by the Sea” (WINNER)
Joel Edgerton – “Loving”
Andrew Garfield – “Hacksaw Ridge”
Viggo Mortensen –  “Captain Fantastic”
Denzel Washington – “Fences”

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama:
Amy Adams – “Arrival”
Jessica Chastain – “Miss Sloane”
Isabelle Huppert – “Elle” (WINNER)
Ruth Negga – “Loving”
Natalie Portman – “Jackie”

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy:
Colin Farrell – “The Lobster”
Ryan Gosling – “La La Land” (WINNER)
Hugh Grant – “Florence Foster Jenkins”
Jonah Hill – “War Dogs”
Ryan Reynolds – “Deadpool”

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy:
Annette Bening – “20th Century Women”
Lily Collins – “Rules Don’t Apply”
Hailee Steinfeld – “The Edge of Seventeen”
Emma Stone – “La La Land” (WINNER)
Meryl Streep – “Florence Foster Jenkins”

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture:
Aaron Taylor-Johnson – “Nocturnal Animals” (WINNER)
Mahershala Ali – “Moonlight”
Jeff Bridges – “Hell or High Water”
Simon Helberg – “Florence Foster Jenkins”
Dev Patel – “Lion”

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture:
Viola Davis – “Fences” (WINNER)
Naomie Harris – “Moonlight”
Nicole Kidman – “Lion”
Octavia Spencer – “Hidden Figures”
Michelle Williams – “Manchester by the Sea”

Best Director – Motion Picture:
Damien Chazelle – “La La Land” (WINNER)
Tom Ford – “Nocturnal Animals”
Mel Gibson – “Hacksaw Ridge”
Barry Jenkins – “Moonlight”
Kenneth Lonergan – “Manchester by the Sea”

Best Screenplay:
“La La Land” (WINNER)
“Nocturnal Animals”
“Moonlight”
“Manchester by the Sea”
“Hell or High Water”

Best Motion Picture – Foreign Language:
“Divines” – France
“Elle” – France (WINNER)
“Neruda” – Chile
“The Salesman” – Iran/France
“Toni Erdmann” – Germany

Best Motion Picture – Animated:
“Kubo and the Two Strings”
“Moana”
“My Life as a Zucchini”
“Sing”
“Zootopia” (WINNER)

Best Original Song – Motion Picture:
“Can’t Stop the Feeling” – “Trolls”
“City of Stars” – “La La Land” (WINNER)
“Faith” – “Sing”
“Gold” – “Gold”
“How Far I’ll Go” – “Moana”

Best Original Score – Motion Picture:
Nicholas Britell– “Moonlight”
Justin Hurwitz – “La La Land” (WINNER)
Johann Johannsson – “Arrival”
Dustin O’Halloran, Hauschka – “Lion”
Hans Zimmer, Pharrell Williams, Benjamin Wallfisch – “Hidden Figures”

Best Television Series – Drama:
“The Crown” (WINNER)
“Game of Thrones”
“Stranger Things”
“This Is Us”
“Westworld”

Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy:
“Atlanta” (WINNER)
“Black-ish”
“Mozart in the Jungle”
“Transparent”
“Veep”

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Drama:
Billy Bob Thornton – “Goliath” (WINNER)
Rami Malek – “Mr. Robot”
Bob Odenkirk – “Better Call Saul”
Matthew Rhys – “The Americans”
Liev Schreiber – “Ray Donovan”

Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Drama:
Caitriona Balfe – “Outlander”
Claire Foy – “The Crown” (WINNER)
Keri Russell – “The Americans”
Winona Ryder – “Stranger Things”
Evan Rachel Wood – “Westworld”

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy:
Anthony Anderson – “Black-ish”
Gael García Bernal – “Mozart in the Jungle”
Donald Glover – “Atlanta” (WINNER)
Nick Nolte – “Graves”
Jeffrey Tambor – “Transparent”

Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy:
Rachel Bloom – “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”
Julia Louis-Dreyfus – “Veep”
Sarah Jessica Parker – “Divorce”
Issa Rae – “Insecure”
Gina Rodriguez – “Jane the Virgin”
Tracee Ellis Ross – “Black-ish” (WINNER)

Best Television Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television:
“American Crime”
“The Dresser”
“The Night Manager”
“The Night Of”
“The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story” (WINNER)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television:
Riz Ahmed – “The Night Of”
Bryan Cranston – “All The Way”
Tom Hiddleston – “The Night Manager” (WINNER)
John Turturro – “The Night Of”
Courtney B. Vance – “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story”

Best Performance by an Actress in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television:
Felicity Huffman – “American Crime”
Riley Keough – “The Girlfriend Experience”
Sarah Paulson – “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story” (WINNER)
Charlotte Rampling – “London Spy”
Thandie Newton – “Westworld”

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television:
Olivia Colman – “The Night Manager” (WINNER)
Lena Headey – “Game Of Thrones”
Chrissy Metz – “This Is Us”
Mandy Moore – “This Is Us”
Kerry Washington – “Confirmation”

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television:
Sterling K. Brown – “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story”
Hugh Laurie – “The Night Manager” (WINNER)
John Lithgow – “The Crown”
Christian Slater – “Mr. Robot”
John Travolta – “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story”

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