Host Ricky Gervais speaks onstage during the 77th Annual Golden Globe Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 5, 2020 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Paul Drinkwater/NBCUniversal Media, LLC via Getty Images)
Host Ricky Gervais speaks onstage during the 77th Annual Golden Globe Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 5, 2020 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Paul Drinkwater/NBCUniversal Media, LLC via Getty Images)
By Bonnie Stiernberg / January 6, 2020 11:12 am

With the country on the brink of war and an entire continent on fire, the 77th Annual Golden Globes faced an interesting challenge: Would they come off as trivial in light of current events or provide a welcome distraction?

The answer, interestingly enough, was neither. Plenty of the evening’s presenters and winners took advantage of their platform to address the Australian bushfires (Cate Blanchett, Joaquin Phoenix and Russell Crowe, who did not attend due to the fires but sent a message saying, “Make no mistake, the tragedy unfolding in Australia is climate-change based”), the president’s threats against Iran (Patricia Arquette) and abortion rights (Michelle Williams).

Of course, it wasn’t all doom and gloom. Tom Hanks delivered a funny, emotional speech accepting the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award, Brad Pitt joked that he “would have shared the raft” with Leonardo DiCaprio in a not-particularly-timely Titanic joke and Succession‘s Kieran Culkin got the show’s fabled kiss from daddy.

In case you missed it, these were the evening’s main takeaways.

Ricky Gervais is insufferable

Ricky Gervais has always marketed himself as an edgy loose cannon, and NBC has always been eager to do the same (“What will he say next? Tune in to find out!“), but these days, everything about his schtick feels tired and out of step with the times. Oh, you’re tired of “this PC culture”? Wow, how original.

In previous years, his impudent biting-of-the-hand-that-feeds-him was entertaining, but in what he has insisted is his “final” time hosting the Globes, he just seemed over it entirely, swinging at low-hanging fruit like Felicity Huffman’s jail sentence and Cats.

His plea for winners to avoid politics felt particularly smug and dickish given everything going on in the world. “So if you do win an award tonight, don’t use it as a platform to make a political speech,” he told the crowd. “You’re in no position to lecture the public, about anything. You know nothing about the real world. Most of you spent less time in school than Greta Thunberg. So, if you win, come up, accept your little award, thank your agent and your god, and fuck off.”

You know you’re bombing when Tom Hanks, the nicest man in Hollywood, becomes a meme for openly grimacing during your set.

Gervais did have a few good lines, like a well-deserved dig over Leonardo DiCaprio’s refusal to date a woman over the age of 25. “The Irishman was amazing. Long, but amazing,” he said. “It wasn’t the only epic movie. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, nearly three hours long. Leonardo DiCaprio attended the premiere, and by the end, his date was too old for him. Even Prince Andrew’s like, ‘Come on, Leo, mate. You’re nearly 50, son.'”

But ultimately, he was shown up by Sacha Baron Cohen, who said, “The hero of this next movie is a naive, misguided child who spreads Nazi propaganda and only has imaginary friends. His name is Mark Zuckerberg” when introducing the Jojo Rabbit clip package.

What should have been a big night for Netflix…wasn’t

Netflix earned more nominations than any other platform or studio with 34 total (17 for its TV shows and 17 in the film categories), but while it was poised for a huge night on Sunday, the streaming service wound up taking home just two Golden Globes. (Olivia Colman won Best Actress in a Drama Series for The Crown, and Laura Dern took home Best Supporting Actress for her role as a divorce lawyer in Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story.)

Marriage Story‘s failure to earn more awards was surprising, but perhaps the biggest shocker of the night was Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman — expected to solidify Netflix’s reputation as a legitimate film studio — getting completely shut out of the awards.

HBO won the night on the TV side, with four awards total (two for Succession, including the much-coveted Best Drama Series award and a Best Actor trophy for Brian Cox, and two for Chernobyl). On the film side, traditional studios were most successful, as Universal’s dark horse 1917 managed to take home Best Motion Picture, Drama and Sony’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood won Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy.

A night of upsets

With Netflix’s contenders doing unexpectedly poorly, the Golden Globes featured plenty of upsets in some of the major categories. Awkwafina became the first Asian-American woman to take home Best Actress at the Golden Globes, winning in the Musical or Comedy for her role in The Farewell. She is only the sixth woman of Asian descent to be nominated in the category in the 77-year history of the awards show.

A surprised Taron Egerton beat out favorites like Leonardo DiCaprio (Once Upon A Time in Hollywood), Daniel Craig (Knives Out) and Eddie Murphy (Dolemite Is My Name) to win Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy for his portrayal of Elton John in Rocketman, while Missing Link topped heavy-hitters like Toy Story 4 and Frozen 2 in the Animated Feature category.

Ramy Youssef also pulled off an upset in the Best Actor in a Comedy Series category for Ramy, and he was a good sport about it in his acceptance speech. “Look, I know you guys haven’t seen my show,” he told the crowd. “Everyone’s like, ‘Is this an editor?’ We made a very specific show about an Arab Muslim family living in New Jersey, and this means a lot to be recognized on this level.”

The biggest surprises of the night, however, came in the form of two big wins for 1917, the World War I drama that doesn’t even go into wide release until next week. Sam Mendes beat out favorites like Noah Baumbach, Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino for his work on the film, which also managed to snag the evening’s biggest award, Best Motion Picture, Drama. Adjust your Oscar ballots accordingly.